Five Things You Should Know About the Coterie of Social Workers and its Founder, Audrey Jeffers

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  1. Did you know that the Coterie of Social Workers initiated Mother’s Day celebrations in Trinidad?

The Coterie of Social Workers Inc, under the leadership of Ms. Audrey Jeffers began celebrating Mother’s Day in Trinidad and Tobago in 1927. Ms. Audrey Jeffers commemorated the importance of motherhood years before it was officially celebrated, in order to educate society on the aspects and key roles motherhood contributes. On the days of celebration, the Coterie would present lectures on the role, function and importance of motherhood. There would also be performances put on by children for the mothers in the audience. Carnations made from cotton fabric were also sold by the Coterie on Mother’s Day, red fabric was used to honour the mothers who were alive and white fabric honoured those passed. These cotton flowers were a proud symbol for women to wear during these days and the sale of these flowers also raised funds for the activities of the Coterie.

 

  1. Did you know that the third branch of the Coterie of Social Worker is located in Tobago?

The collaboration between Ms. Audrey Jeffers and Dr. G. H. Clarke brought about the formation of the Coterie of Social Workers in Tobago. Dr. G.H. Clarke was a distinguished academic who intended to help the needy kids of Tobago. He focused on the nutrition of children and sought out resolutions to improve their general health. He erected a shed at Mason Hall, Tobago and distributed free lunches to school children daily. When Dr. Clarke and Ms. Jeffers connected on their similar paths they saw to the opening of the Scarborough Breakfast Shed. The shed moved from location to location but finally settled in Old Market on a parcel of land given to Dr. Clarke by the then Governor, Sir Hubert Young. The Coterie of Social Workers Inc, is located at the Meal Centre and Day Nursery, Old Market Scarborough as privately run organization.

 

  1. Did you know that Audrey Jeffers was the first female City Councillor in Trinidad?

As the Coterie of Social Workers Inc grew in size and reach, the Founder, Miss Audrey Jeffers stepped into the political arena. Supported by the leader of the Trinidad Labour Party and Mayor of the town of Port of Spain, Captain A.A. Cipriani, Audrey Jeffers campaigned for the rights and equality of women. In one of her appeals she stated, “I have done for the people and children of Port of Spain what men in the council have tried to do and failed” and with this she received an upset victory for women. She became the first woman City Councillor on November 3rd 1936 and maintained this position for many years. This was a great achievement for Ms. Jeffers and women as a whole at the time and will be remembered as one of the Proudest moments for the Coterie of Social Workers Inc.

 

  1. Did you know there is a time capsule in the headquarters of the Coterie of Social Workers Inc?

In 1981, members of the Coterie of Social Workers laid a time capsule in a concrete pillar located in the administration office of the headquarters on #3 Longden Street. This was done in anticipation of the long-term life of the organization. Members of the Coterie knew, their organization would last the test of time and placed a time capsule in the pillar to represent the lasting relevance of the organization in the times to come.

 

  1. Did you know that a Junior Coterie was formed?

The Coterie grew as time passed along, young women and mature women were brought in or volunteered to become social workers in the organization. Young women were welcomed into this junior coterie where needy children were accommodated. The Junior Coterie, unfortunately, could not sustain itself and was disbanded, however, some members of the Junior Coterie were able to graduate to the adult organization.

 

Author: Maya Doyle

Source: Todd,Neila, The Legacy of the Coterie of Social Workers, Trinidad, RaBt,1999

 

 

 

Maya Doyle

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