In every community, there is always someone in the neighborhood that we call Mother outside of our own mother. This person is loving, kind, sweet, and has no filter. This person speaks the truth and when not around, everyone looks for her.
Well, I’m here to talk about one Mother in the Community, Ms. Florence Holmes! Mother Florence Holmes is the person that make things happen and has a love for everyone. She works at the Assistant Director at the Bethune Center and is only 72 years young.
Angela: Who is Mother Florence Holmes?
Mother Florence Holmes: I am someone who cares for the community, who cares for the children, who always try to do the right things in life, able and willing to help anybody at any time, if it’s right, I give 100% and I don’t take any mess from anyone. I speak up when something is wrong, I demand respect and I get it.
How old is Mother Florence Holmes?
72 years old!
How do you introduce yourself to someone?
I introduce myself as Florence Holmes. I always say my full name because I want people to remember who I am. There are many people with the name Florence and you should not want anyone guessing who you are. If someone says, do you know Florence Holmes, it makes is easier for the person to identify you.
What keeps you at the Bethune Center?
Being able to help people and seeing the next generation do things that before wasn’t an opportunity. The Bethune Center did not have a variety of activities to help children expand and grow. Now, the Bethune Center has activities such as Poetry, Tai Chi, Dance, Sign Language, Art Classes and so much more. Everyone can meet at the center as before it was mainly used for parties and now it is so much more. The center allows true diversity and I’m happy to be part of making a difference in our community especially for our children. There are times when people first meet me they say that I am mean and hard on them, but after helping them and being straight with them, it like the next week, I’m their best friend. I am hard on people because I mean well, I want things to go right and you must tell people the truth whether they want to hear it or not otherwise, you are setting them up for failure. It feels good to see our children running through the Bethune Center daily. I always tell people that kids will be kids and I love talking with them and seeing them grow at the Bethune Center versus being some place that can lead them into trouble.
Why are you still working?
In 2012, after working 43 years in the meat department at Local 468a in the union, I retired. Through volunteering, the opportunity for me to work full time at the Bethune Center was presented, so I accepted the position. I believed and still believe that we are on the right path. My computer skills are not so great, but my willingness to learn and help people allowed me to accept this opportunity. I’m happy that I did accept the position as the Bethune Center is and has changed the lives of many in our community! I am a worker, I get it from my mother and father. I’m very accommodating to my co-workers, I love working with people and again, I love helping people!
Why do people come to you?
I am always willing to give people a chance. People know that I can help them and I am honest, I go the extra mile and I will tell people if I can’t do it. People call me when they need something as I am the go to person, I help people feel better and appreciated. Also, people are people no matter their title and people will remember you for what you did and do for them.
Now, Mother Florence Holmes, can you share three jewels with us about how to keep doing what they love?
- Be Honest
- Be Humble
- Have Faith
With these three jewels, you can do anything you want.
Why is Mother Florence Holmes still driven to fulfill her passion?
My parents taught me that I must help people no matter who they are and I have taught my children the same. I told my children that if you have $1.00 and someone needs .75cents then you give it to them, don’t grumble about it, don’t be afraid to help people because you never know when you may need help. We as people only have each other and it is up to us to help one another.
Mother Florence Holmes, what happens when Passion Meets Purpose?
When you are passionate about something and it’s your purpose then it must be done. I put 125% to get things done and if needed, I will lean on my children and/or community members to help get it done. For example, I felt the passion of having Arlington Park revitalize and it was my purpose to get it done. I asked for help from my family, from the administration and from my community and look it is done. Arlington Park is revitalized and getting better!
I must share this with you, I am one of the people that wants to know. Mother Florence Holmes says, many residents who partake in activities at the Bethune Center tends to tell her to let them know when she is taking a day off as they want to know her whereabouts.
Mother Florence Holmes, do you have anything else that you want to share?
- If you can send a thank you note or a special gift to someone, then do it. I will tell you first hand, that the person receiving the gift will feel special and will remember you.
- Family is first and when you are kind to people, many of them will help you along the way.
- We must help each other – no matter how much money you have, you still need help.
- It was great to see all the performances that occurred at this year’s Black History Month event at City Hall as they were people who participate in activities at the Bethune Center!
(here’s some humor)
- I tend to fight with my daughter Stephanie who met you (Angela V. McKnight) first. I told her that I met you (Angela V. McKnight) first; it’s a happy fight!
Now, this is why Ms. Florence Holmes is called Mother Florence Holmes, she is #aGEM in our community and I’m so happy that I have her in my life. I’m proud to call her Mother Florence Holmes and I hope you are too!
Angela V. McKnight
Assemblywoman of NJ LD31