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Featured / Opinion / Virgin Islands / March 22, 2015

Edmond McDonald wrote that “When God wants an important thing done in this world or a wrong righted, he goes about it in a very singular way. He doesn’t release thunderbolts or stir up earthquakes. God simply has a tiny baby born,” perhaps of a very humble home, perhaps of a very assertive mother, or even a mother with loads of style, personality, and pizazz. “And God puts the idea or purpose into the mother’s heart. And she puts it in the baby’s mind, and then God waits. The great events of this world are not battles and elections and earthquakes and thunderbolts.”

“The great events are babies, for each child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged with humanity, but is still expecting goodwill to become personified in each human life.”

And so, God produced women, men, and each of us to shake it up positively and stir the pot by being a part of the solution and not part of the problem. As such, we are drivers of progress and makers of peace—all we need is a fighting chance. That fighting chance is evidenced in all the opportunities women have to lead from where we are.

We are here today and can stand tall with firm shoulders because of leaders like Queen Mary, and Sens. Ruby M. Rouss and Lorraine Berry who were determined to weave a woman’s perspective even deeper into the fabric of life. In fact, these leaders were visionary, and if they were alive today they would agree, to do so we have to reach out to everyone in our society, not only to women.

We have to make the case that fostering learning, growth, and development for women and girls advances global prosperity. Equally, we have to be firm in our resolve that our journey toward true mission impact includes diversity. President Barack Obama is spot on in saying, “When women succeed, America succeeds.” It is imperative that we spread the word and highlight the empirical research that shows that when women engage in and contribute to the economy, everyone wins. When women are at the leading edge of financial services, education, technology, healthcare, and politics, we influence and make a difference. When women are brokers in peace-making and peace-keeping, the world is safer and secure.

Influence cannot be dictated or imposed; it must be modeled and nurtured. Before moving back to Washington, D.C., after 13 years of living in the city before I was relocated to St. Croix to work and during my formative years at Deloitte Consulting, I learned a valuable lesson in that even if you don’t get the credit — in Washington, D.C., and anywhere for that matter — you can get an awful lot done if you don’t mind doing the work and giving other people the credit. You know what you do, and God knows what you do, and that is all that should matter. Lead from where you are. The rest will fall in place.

The second lesson, which comes from my Dad, Arnold Helenese, who is my hero, is to assign yourself. He couldn’t ever stand to see me idle and he would often ask, “Did the teacher give you homework?” If I said no, he would say, “Assign yourself!”

Deepak Chopra says it best: “There are many aspects to success. Success includes good health, energy and enthusiasm for life, fulfilling relationships, creative freedom, emotional and psychological stability, a sense of well-being, and peace of mind.” These relationships, influences, and characteristics are key.

Be assertive and don’t wait around. Don’t wait around for our managers or our friends to direct us to do what we are able to figure out for ourselves. Don’t do just as little as we can to get by. That model in this global economy will leave us penniless and unemployed.

Always give people more than they expect and do it cheerfully. Most importantly, really understand our purpose. The real dance starts when the music stops. Why do we work so hard? How is the work that we do value added? How are we helping others? How are we impacting change? Each of us—sit in a quiet space, dig deep, answer those questions, and quest to establish an ethic of solitude and substance.

The personal and professional demands on our lives won’t cease to be heavy, but hard work never killed anyone. Don’t be afraid of untying knots and failing; it’s the way we learn to do things right. Frankly, it does not matter how many times we fall down. It just matters how many times we get up — at work, at home, or wherever we may find ourselves.

As women, mothers, and responsible citizens with real lives and real needs, including the need to contribute our talents and abilities, we are given the latitude to do a good job at home, work, Wall Street, Main Street, or wherever that may be, so instigating and enabling the face-off between stay-at-home moms and work-outside-of-the-home moms is a lose-lose equation.

There is no West Indian “Bush Bath” or magic elixir to raising children, as we can find success and failures among parents who do the work of staying home with their children and among those who leave home to go to work. What makes the difference is whether parents have the competence and commitment to give children what they need for healthy development.

In this spirit, it is time for us to make peace with the past. We can begin by taking care not to belittle and sneer the roles of women as mothers and homemakers, and by not disparaging and vilifying the mothering skills of women who work outside the home. And we can take the time to thank employers for giving employees the physical, financial, and emotional support we need to raise our children.

Last lesson: Never give up. I don’t care how hard it gets, and it’s going to get very hard sometimes. An old proverb says that when you get to your wit’s end, that is where God lives. Harriet Beecher Stowe said, “When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hold on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” It always does.

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Teri Helenese
In April 1994, Ebony magazine dubbed Teri Helenese a Rising Star. In 1997, the same magazine included her on its list of the Top 25 Accomplished Women. And in 1998, she was recognized by another well-known magazine, Cosmopolitan, as a Leader to Watch. In less than two decades, Teri Helenese has met and even surpassed these expectations. Her career has spanned executive functions across the private and public sectors. In every setting—from St. Croix to Washington, D.C. and from local to global enterprise—she has made lasting, impactful change and she continues to be a rain-maker and a changer-maker today. For Helenese's full bio, go here.

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CHS Celebrates Annual Cultural Fair With Crucian Culture On Full Display

The front lawn of St. Croix's Central High School on Friday was the scene of the school's Annual Cultural Fair that showcased...

March 22, 2015