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May 13, 2016

HelpAge Belize Pays Tribute to an Icon

Jane Usher has led an extraordinary and exemplary life. Over the years she has touched so many lives through her involvement in community affairs, politics and the credit union movement. Like her iconic brother, George Price, Miss Jane, has lived her life striking a balance between her beloved family of ten children with her work and at the same time always upholding Christian values. At the age of ninety-eight, she has travelled many roads and crossed many bridges, but it is her deep sense of service to others that motivates her existence. This past weekend, HelpAge Belize paid homage to the woman who is regarded as the oldest C.E.O. who still reports to work every day. For that occasion, Duane Moody and Rick Romero produced a documentary of her life and tonight we share highlights of her story.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

For many decades the name “Miss Jane” or “Ma Jane” has been synonymous with the Holy Redeemer Credit Union. H.R.C.U. was formed seven decades ago in 1944 and Ma Jane was there from the onset. It’s a unique financial institution that allows the grassroots to accumulate savings, while providing insurance securities for its borrowers. Miss Jane is a pioneer in the credit union movement; she started as a clerk then became the treasurer before moving up as C.E.O. in 1956 at age thirty-nine.

 

Jane Usher, Awardee

Jane Usher

“When the credit union idea came and because we helped so many people with education, with illnesses and so on that now we are an institution. The whole movement is an institution now. I remember that when I was told by the Bishop of Belize that I had to take over the credit union, I couldn’t even make out a deposit slip because the person they left in charge wasn’t able to continue. And I just stayed there and worked and work and I was happy to have made the first million, then I made the second million and the third million. And don’t ask me how many million we are now, but I am still there. The credit union family…we are a credit union family; thousand of us all working together with the same thing—the almighty dollar—to see how we can stretch it and how we can multiple it. Some will multiple, some will stretch.”

 

Duane Moody

“How is that different from, because the credit union prides itself of being different from other financial institutions?”

 

Jane Usher

“Because I own it, he own it and all of us own it. We noh own the bank, we only work with the bank. But in the credit union, you work, you own that. You are a member-owner of the movement.”

 

It’s with that passion that Ma Jane won over the hearts of the people of the Pickstock constituency back in 1979, before passing the baton to her brother, the father of the nation George Cadle Price. But her role in the economic independence and the thriving credit union movement of the country did not go unnoticed. Ma Jane was appointed Deputy Minister of Health, Housing, Cooperatives and Credit Unions. She later served as a member of the Opposition in the House of Representatives from 1984 to 1989 and then President of the Senate from 1989 to 1993.

 

Leni Jo Usher

Leni Jo Usher, Daughter

“The same time this great People United Party movement was being born and so mom was always a part of that. She’s the one who sewed the first Belizean flag. Nobody knows that; she’s the best of Belize.”

 

Elizabeth Zabaneh, Daughter

Elizabeth Zabaneh

“In 19, I guess it must have been ’78, ’79, I think Uncle George maybe invited her to join the political movement and she did just that long with Madam Liz and she became a very influential person in the government. I think people loved her and like she said it was service, always the people first.”

 

Jane Usher

“I just felt—I may be conceited—but I just felt that we were going down. When I say we, I mean the People’s United Party was going down. Why? I don’t know. But I felt that if I got in there, that we may be able to scrape up and that is exactly what we did; we just scraped in.”

 

Ma Jane’s drive has placed her among a distinguished group. Aside from having an entire boulevard named after her, she has been recognized regionally and internationally: she was honored by the Queen of England, she won the Distinguished Service Award from the Jamaican Cooperative Credit Union League and the Golden Eagle Award from the Belize Credit Unions League for her service to the credit union movement. Most recently, in August of 2013, Galen University awarded Ma Jane with an honorary doctorate. Dr. Jane Usher is H.R.C.U.’s Executive Treasurer and, arguably, the longest running C.E.O. in the country. Over the weekend, Dr. Jane was honored yet again; this time, by HelpAge Belize at its Fundraising Dinner and Citizen Recognition Gala.

 

Ivorine Bulwer

Ivorine Bulwer, Executive Director, HelpAge Belize

“HelpAge wants to send a message that every individual, every person should be valued. Society, there is a policy as it relates to people retiring between the ages of fifty-five and sixty-five. But retirement does not mean that productivity discontinues. We are trying to send a message that older persons should also be valued. They had and they continue and they should be viewed as persons who can make immeasurable contribution to our society. And hence Miss Jane was singled out because here is a woman who is ninety0-eight years young and will be ninety-nine September fifth and she still goes to the Holy Redeemer Credit Union Office.”

 

A mother, a great great grandmother, an aunt, a friend, a counselor, an advisor, a mentor, a role model to thousands of persons – Ma Jane will forever be loved by the many lives she has touched.

 

Francis Usher, Son

Francis Usher

“A kind person, a loving person, but I stern disciplinarian; she never spared the rod with us and in our days, children never had no rights. You listened, you obeyed and I think we grow up better for that and I will always be thankful to her for that.”

 

Marion Joseph

Marion Joseph, Son

“If I wanted to use possibly three words that people should remember Miss Jane is possibly Faith, Hope and Love!”

 

Leni Jo Usher

‘A force to content with, a life to emulate and a woman to love. Love, love, love…that’s what she’s been about. Love.”

 

Duane Moody

“How do you want people to remember you?”

 

Jane Usher

“As Miss Jane, the old miserable person that she is. No I think that they will remember me for what I really did in life. Besides the credit union movement, the people that I’ve helped, the people that have come to me for help and things like that. They will always remember me man.”

 

With her lifework dedicated to the credit union movement, Ma Jane says that her legacy will live forever in her children—biological and otherwise. Duane Moody for News Five.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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2 Responses for “HelpAge Belize Pays Tribute to an Icon”

  1. Joseph Sampson says:

    Miss Jane is a Belizean Icon- an example of what a Belizean can acheive and build right here at home. At 98 Miss janes legacy is incredible. God Bkess Miss Jane , Mr. Francis and Miss Black and all those who make the credit union such an efficiently run institution.

  2. Marie says:

    Besides, since George Price is her brother and she was a member of the PUP, what are your thoughts on Belize even though you knew back then that Guatemala had threatened Belize and he went ahead with Independence even though the country wasn’t selfsufficient economically or military wise?

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