Leadership and commitment
Leleath Bailey used to love going to the Kiwanis Club’s annual convention in Massachusetts.
A self-described “people person”, she enjoyed making friends however this year she was a little hesitant.
“With the pandemic, I said I am not going,” she said.
But her daughter, Kimberley Cann, insisted and in August Ms Bailey made the trip to Leominster where she was surprised with the Outstanding Lt Governor Award.
She received it for attending every single one of the virtual workshops the Kiwanis Club has held since March 2020.
“When the pandemic struck, the New England and Bermuda districts put on educational workshops for members to attend,” she said. “They were on different topics – clubs and volunteering and that sort of thing. I attended each meeting. When I am committed to something I keep my attendance up. I did not know I was being monitored.
“When my name was called I could not believe it. It took me a little while to get up out of my seat.”
Ms Bailey first held the position of Lt Governor in 2006. She was elected again this year and hopes to run next year.
“After that won’t be able to run again,” she said.
She is responsible for the Kiwanis Club of St George and for her club, the Kiwanis Club of Hamilton.
“Previously, we had one in Somerset and I am trying to reactivate that one if we can,” she said.
Ms Bailey, who helped found Kiwanis Club leadership programmes at CedarBridge Academy and the Berkeley Institute, joined the organisation in 2002.
“I had been abroad and when I arrived at the airport the past Lt Governor, Harrison Simons, approached me and invited me to a meeting.”
One of the things she loves is the group’s hands-on nature. Their motto is “serving the children of the world”. In Bermuda, the club’s signature project is Teen Haven, the residential programme in Devonshire that offers assistance to homeless pregnant teenagers and young mothers and their children.
“We do fundraising for Teen Haven,” she said. “But we don’t just take whatever we have there and leave it. We spend time with the clients and the children. We play games with them. They enjoy that. We have meals with them.”
Ms Bailey grew up on East Shore Road, Sandys.
Her mother, Gloria Ball, worked at Triminghams for many years.
“I think I got my love for people from her,” she said.
Ms Bailey has seven brothers and sisters, all who came along after she turned 13.
After attending West End Primary School, Sandys Secondary School and the Sixth Form Centre, she worked as a secretary in the civil service for most of her career. She was also heavily involved with the Bermuda Public Services Union.
She was asked to join on her first day of work with the Public Works Department, in 1969.
“I joined really out of curiosity,” Ms Bailey said. “Mrs Betty Hunt, who worked in the Executive Council, the forerunner for the Cabinet Office, came up the steps from the second floor and handed me a membership form.
“I signed it because I felt this was something that I would like to do, not only because my rights as a worker would be protected but also it gave me a chance to help others. So I attended meetings to become conversant with the guidelines and before long I became a shop steward and worked my way up the ladder to become president from 1994 to 1998.”
She said it was a good experience largely because of the work put in by the general secretary, Eugene Blakeney.
“Being I was working as a civil servant, I could not really get involved in the political side of things. The general secretary would take that lead. I was happy to have him to work with. He brought a lot of experience to the table.
“I liked to go to different departments and meet with shop stewards. I was trying to stop grievances before they escalated.”
The position required a lot of travel around Bermuda, talking with the union’s various members.
She remembered how in 1973, the civil service went on strike following Government's refusal to implement an arbitration ruling on wages. At the end of it, the civil servants walked away with a 13.5 per cent pay increase.
“It was led by the first female president Verbena Daniels,” she said. “The chief negotiator, Simon Fraser, who was a part-time worker, fled the island in the midst of the strike leaving the president and association in the lurch, but other officers and heads of department stepped in to assist.”
Over the years Ms Bailey worked in a number of government departments. At the end of her career she was working in the Parliamentary Registry’s Office as the registration officer.
“I most enjoyed that department,” she said. “I did the registrations; I took the photographs for elections … that sort of thing.”
She was disappointed when she was forced to retire at 65 as she felt she still had a lot to give.
Her work with the Kiwanis Club kept her occupied. She was also a coach with the Mirrors programme for several years. At present she’s focused on organising the Kiwanis Club’s 50th anniversary celebrations for September 18.
“We were planning on having a banquet but with all the pandemic regulations we can’t do that. Now I am trying to figure out something we can do.”
In addition to her daughter Ms Bailey has two sons, Kevin and Anthony, six grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.
“I have two more great grandchildren on the way,” she said. “I am most proud that the Lord has allowed me to live this long that I can continue to help others as much as possible and to try to keep good health and strength to carry on for the future.”
In 2017 Ms Bailey received the Queens Certificate and Badge Honour for her service to the community.
Lifestyle profiles the island’s senior citizens every Wednesday. Contact Jessie Moniz Hardy on 278-0150 or firstname.lastname@example.org with the full name and contact details and the reason you are suggesting them