82.1 F
Charlotte Amalie
Sunday, August 14, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesMAY THE PRAISE FOR CALVIN WHEATLEY NOT BE FAINT

MAY THE PRAISE FOR CALVIN WHEATLEY NOT BE FAINT

In any community, there is a small group of men and women who truly make a difference. Through a combination of commitment, intelligence and humanity, they make the place better. Calvin Wheatley was a member of that select group.
I first met Calvin some 25 years ago. I had an idea and a plan for a multiservice center for youth — one-stop shopping for a range of health, social, vocational, cultural and recreational programs. The single-center approach made great sense for the Virgin Islands because there were so few available resources for young people, a situation that persists today.
In shopping the idea around, I encountered three groups, probably the same three groups you would find anywhere in similar circumstances.
The first group were the blank stares, the "never heard of anything like that before."
Group 2 included those whose response was some version of "great idea; good luck."
In group 3 were those who said "Yes, we need this; what can we do?" In my experience, group 3 had only two members, the late Wilburn Smith and Calvin Wheatley. They made the Youth Multiservice Center and many other good things happen that otherwise would not have come to be.
Calvin and Wilburn were in many ways as different as day and night.
There are many hand-wringers in the world, usually sending you the message that they would like to help, but it is really hopeless. Wilburn would wring his enormous hands in frustration because things were not happening fast enough and the lives of young Virgin Islanders were being wasted.
Calvin was different. When I would present him with my most recent "you won't believe this" story, he would get that little twinkle in his eye, the twinkle that said "don't worry; we'll figure this out" and begin to think through alternatives.
You didn't have to spend any time trying to figure out if Calvin was on the right side of an issue. He always was. At the same time, he was never judgmental about those who were on the "wrong side." He was always looking for a solution rather than someone to blame. And then he would bring his encyclopedic knowledge of the territory and his great intelligence to bear on whatever the problem was and "suggest" that "I would do it this way," or or that you "go see … " The thought that one might reject any of his "suggestions" never occurred to me — nor, I am sure, to many other people, especially when the intelligence behind it was linked to that twinkle.
Because Calvin did not blow his own horn or seek credit, it is almost certain that his great contributions to the community, however they are recognized, will be understated. I am sure that my story is just one of many about this extraordinary man who was on the right side and knew how to get things done to make people's lives better.

Editor's note: Management consultant Frank Schneiger has worked with V.I. agencies since 1975, most recently as consultant to United Way of St. Thomas/St. John. He was one of the founders of the St. Thomas/St. John Youth Multiservice Center.
We welcome and encourage readers to keep the dialogue going by responding to Source commentary. Letters should be e-mailed with name and place of residence to source@viaccess.net.

Publisher's note : Like the St. Croix Source now? Find out how you can love us twice as much — and show your support for the islands' free and independent news voice … click here.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.




Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.

FROM FACEBOOK

Comments Box SVG iconsUsed for the like, share, comment, and reaction icons
Load more
In any community, there is a small group of men and women who truly make a difference. Through a combination of commitment, intelligence and humanity, they make the place better. Calvin Wheatley was a member of that select group.
I first met Calvin some 25 years ago. I had an idea and a plan for a multiservice center for youth -- one-stop shopping for a range of health, social, vocational, cultural and recreational programs. The single-center approach made great sense for the Virgin Islands because there were so few available resources for young people, a situation that persists today.
In shopping the idea around, I encountered three groups, probably the same three groups you would find anywhere in similar circumstances.
The first group were the blank stares, the "never heard of anything like that before."
Group 2 included those whose response was some version of "great idea; good luck."
In group 3 were those who said "Yes, we need this; what can we do?" In my experience, group 3 had only two members, the late Wilburn Smith and Calvin Wheatley. They made the Youth Multiservice Center and many other good things happen that otherwise would not have come to be.
Calvin and Wilburn were in many ways as different as day and night.
There are many hand-wringers in the world, usually sending you the message that they would like to help, but it is really hopeless. Wilburn would wring his enormous hands in frustration because things were not happening fast enough and the lives of young Virgin Islanders were being wasted.
Calvin was different. When I would present him with my most recent "you won't believe this" story, he would get that little twinkle in his eye, the twinkle that said "don't worry; we'll figure this out" and begin to think through alternatives.
You didn't have to spend any time trying to figure out if Calvin was on the right side of an issue. He always was. At the same time, he was never judgmental about those who were on the "wrong side." He was always looking for a solution rather than someone to blame. And then he would bring his encyclopedic knowledge of the territory and his great intelligence to bear on whatever the problem was and "suggest" that "I would do it this way," or or that you "go see ... " The thought that one might reject any of his "suggestions" never occurred to me -- nor, I am sure, to many other people, especially when the intelligence behind it was linked to that twinkle.
Because Calvin did not blow his own horn or seek credit, it is almost certain that his great contributions to the community, however they are recognized, will be understated. I am sure that my story is just one of many about this extraordinary man who was on the right side and knew how to get things done to make people's lives better.

Editor's note: Management consultant Frank Schneiger has worked with V.I. agencies since 1975, most recently as consultant to United Way of St. Thomas/St. John. He was one of the founders of the St. Thomas/St. John Youth Multiservice Center.
We welcome and encourage readers to keep the dialogue going by responding to Source commentary. Letters should be e-mailed with name and place of residence to source@viaccess.net.

Publisher's note : Like the St. Croix Source now? Find out how you can love us twice as much -- and show your support for the islands' free and independent news voice ... click here.