83.9 F
Charlotte Amalie
Monday, August 15, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesOn Island Profile: Silva Gibbs

On Island Profile: Silva Gibbs

March 16, 2009 — Silva Gibbs, a St. Croix native who has advanced steadily in the U.S. Postal Service for the past 16 years, says her new position as St. Thomas' first female postmaster isn't simply a stepping stone.
"This is my home," she says happily.
It's a weekday morning in March, about the first time Gibbs has had for a leisurely interview since taking on the post last November in the Christmas rush. And she still gets interrupted frequently to deal with post office business.
Gibbs has always had her eye on the future.
"As a kid, I wanted to be a stewardess — all that travel for free," she says. "Then I thought about being a mail carrier, ours was so friendly and nice."
Those ambitions fell by the wayside as Gibbs followed a career path where she has, indeed, wound up at the post office, but not as a happy mail carrier. Rather, she is to all appearances, a happy postmaster. She chats about how this has all evolved.
She graduated from St. Croix Central High School in 1977, and received a bachelor of arts degree from the University of the Virgin Islands in business administration in 1996.
Wasting no time after high school, in 1978 she joined the V.I. National Guard, where she carved out an impressive tour of duty, with honors including the Army Commendation Award of Bravery at home on St. Croix during Hurricane Hugo in 1989, and the Army Achievement Medal for service in Korea. She was honorably discharged in 1990 with the rank of sergeant (E5).
Gibbs embarked upon her postal career rather inauspiciously on St. Croix in 1993 as a part-time flexible window-distribution clerk. A year later, she became the first Virgin Islander and the first woman to be named postmaster of the Aguada Post Office in Puerto Rico.
"I'd had two years of Spanish in school," she says, "but I'd never really used it, so I was forced to learn. I asked my staff, and they were happy to help me."
She gives a wise nod.
"Yes, it was a challenge at first."
Gibbs seems to thrive on challenges. She received the 2006 Chief Marketing Growth Award for growing sales in the relatively small Aguada station, with 15 employees.
"Our retail employees brought in $4,480 as compared with $2,910 for the previous year, a 54-percent increase," she says.
With a pleased grin she fetches the award, which she seems to hold more dear than her service awards.
"This was hard to come by," she says.
While in Puerto Rico, Gibbs saw an opening for manager of customer service at the Marina Station in Mayaguez. It was another big step. She got the job, managing 33 city routes with 57 employees.
After two years in Mayaguez, Gibbs applied for the St. Thomas post, where she manages the five St. Thomas post offices and a staff of 101 employees who deliver about 101,000 pieces of mail per week. The operation serves more than 60,000 people.
"We have just 11 routes," she says, "but there's parcel post, the trailers three times a week — we always give them a two-day turnaround, with no delay — and the airport facility."
The job, offhand, could seem overwhelming. The V.I. postal service, particularly on St. Thomas and St. John, has come under severe criticism in the past few years for myriad problems, particularly slow mail delivery. V.I. mail goes to Puerto Rico for sorting, a major complaint.
The reason mail gets sorted in Puerto Rico is because of anthrax and bio-chemical threats, Gibbs explains. (See "Postal Bottleneck in Puerto Rico, Christensen Says.")
"They have a machine over there to go through all the mail," she says. "It would be cost-prohibitive to have one here; we don't have the volume."
Customer service is her first love and her biggest challenge, one which she welcomes.
"I have two outreach programs coming up," she says. "On March 26, I'm having USPS.com day here in the lobby. I want folks to come in and learn all the services we have to offer online, customs requirements, mailing shortcuts. Later, I'll do the same program in the other stations."
There's also a school program.
"I want students to become pen pals," Gibbs says. "Write to each other, learn how to communicate with paper and pen, proper ways to address a letter, how to express mail applications to colleges in the future."
As we take our leave, Gibbs pauses to show an oil painting the employees in Mayaguez gave her. The painting is abstract, filled with vibrant yellows, reds and blues, a character with big red lips and a big blue heart.
"I really miss all my friends there," she says. "But it's time to come home, where I can visit my family. This is where I want to be."
Back Talk Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.

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
March 16, 2009 -- Silva Gibbs, a St. Croix native who has advanced steadily in the U.S. Postal Service for the past 16 years, says her new position as St. Thomas' first female postmaster isn't simply a stepping stone.
"This is my home," she says happily.
It's a weekday morning in March, about the first time Gibbs has had for a leisurely interview since taking on the post last November in the Christmas rush. And she still gets interrupted frequently to deal with post office business.
Gibbs has always had her eye on the future.
"As a kid, I wanted to be a stewardess -- all that travel for free," she says. "Then I thought about being a mail carrier, ours was so friendly and nice."
Those ambitions fell by the wayside as Gibbs followed a career path where she has, indeed, wound up at the post office, but not as a happy mail carrier. Rather, she is to all appearances, a happy postmaster. She chats about how this has all evolved.
She graduated from St. Croix Central High School in 1977, and received a bachelor of arts degree from the University of the Virgin Islands in business administration in 1996.
Wasting no time after high school, in 1978 she joined the V.I. National Guard, where she carved out an impressive tour of duty, with honors including the Army Commendation Award of Bravery at home on St. Croix during Hurricane Hugo in 1989, and the Army Achievement Medal for service in Korea. She was honorably discharged in 1990 with the rank of sergeant (E5).
Gibbs embarked upon her postal career rather inauspiciously on St. Croix in 1993 as a part-time flexible window-distribution clerk. A year later, she became the first Virgin Islander and the first woman to be named postmaster of the Aguada Post Office in Puerto Rico.
"I'd had two years of Spanish in school," she says, "but I'd never really used it, so I was forced to learn. I asked my staff, and they were happy to help me."
She gives a wise nod.
"Yes, it was a challenge at first."
Gibbs seems to thrive on challenges. She received the 2006 Chief Marketing Growth Award for growing sales in the relatively small Aguada station, with 15 employees.
"Our retail employees brought in $4,480 as compared with $2,910 for the previous year, a 54-percent increase," she says.
With a pleased grin she fetches the award, which she seems to hold more dear than her service awards.
"This was hard to come by," she says.
While in Puerto Rico, Gibbs saw an opening for manager of customer service at the Marina Station in Mayaguez. It was another big step. She got the job, managing 33 city routes with 57 employees.
After two years in Mayaguez, Gibbs applied for the St. Thomas post, where she manages the five St. Thomas post offices and a staff of 101 employees who deliver about 101,000 pieces of mail per week. The operation serves more than 60,000 people.
"We have just 11 routes," she says, "but there's parcel post, the trailers three times a week -- we always give them a two-day turnaround, with no delay -- and the airport facility."
The job, offhand, could seem overwhelming. The V.I. postal service, particularly on St. Thomas and St. John, has come under severe criticism in the past few years for myriad problems, particularly slow mail delivery. V.I. mail goes to Puerto Rico for sorting, a major complaint.
The reason mail gets sorted in Puerto Rico is because of anthrax and bio-chemical threats, Gibbs explains. (See "Postal Bottleneck in Puerto Rico, Christensen Says.")
"They have a machine over there to go through all the mail," she says. "It would be cost-prohibitive to have one here; we don't have the volume."
Customer service is her first love and her biggest challenge, one which she welcomes.
"I have two outreach programs coming up," she says. "On March 26, I'm having USPS.com day here in the lobby. I want folks to come in and learn all the services we have to offer online, customs requirements, mailing shortcuts. Later, I'll do the same program in the other stations."
There's also a school program.
"I want students to become pen pals," Gibbs says. "Write to each other, learn how to communicate with paper and pen, proper ways to address a letter, how to express mail applications to colleges in the future."
As we take our leave, Gibbs pauses to show an oil painting the employees in Mayaguez gave her. The painting is abstract, filled with vibrant yellows, reds and blues, a character with big red lips and a big blue heart.
"I really miss all my friends there," she says. "But it's time to come home, where I can visit my family. This is where I want to be."
Back Talk Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.