Surprise birthday gala for Jamaican community worker

More than 150 family members, close friends and supporters on Saturday, Nov. 11 night celebrated the 60th birthday of Brooklyn resident and Jamaican-born community worker and educator Beverley Campbell at the grand ballroom at Rochdale Village in Jamaica, Queens.

The surprise grand birthday gala was organized by Campbell’s only daughter, Ashley Elaine Goolgar.

“God, certainly, makes no mistakes, and He definitely made no mistake in blessing me with a mom like mine,” Googar told Caribbean Life in an exclusive interview. “My mom, Beverley Elaine Campbell, is the personification of a mother’s love.

“As we entered 2017, I knew that I wanted to make my mother’s 60th birthday special,” added Goolgar, stating that she “played with several ideas,” but added that “one that never left me was to throw her a grand celebration. So that is exactly what I did.

“When I think of ‘The Great Gatsby’ and all of its grand galore, I think of a fitting way to celebrate a great woman,” Goolgar said.

She said while planning and executing “this mission,” she said her goal was to “throw a grand gala, but my challenge was to make it a surprise.

“My mother is a loving woman, and she has touched the lives of many people; so, I sought out to bring together her closest people, her long lost friends and family who she hadn’t seen in quite a while and her special people who she keeps near to her heart,” Goolgar said.

She said she was “specific with particular details because, in order to match the eminence of a great woman, you must do it 100 percent, or not at all.

“So, I went full force,” Goolgar said. “As this was a surprise, and she had no idea. It was also a surprise for me that she had dreamed of a party like this for years but never spoke of it until the night it happened.”

Goolgar said she was “overjoyed to see her eyes gleam with excitement, shock and happiness and that alone made my night.

“To see the efforts that each and every one of her 150-plus guests, made to participate in the theme and to make this night fantastic, proves that she is loved beyond measure,” she said. “Everyone in that ballroom looked ravishing straight out of the roaring 20s.”

The celebration comprised first dance with the guest of honor and her Jamaican-born husband James Campbell to “Always and Forever”; second dance with father, Seymour Fraser to “Dance with my Father”; third dance with brother, Michael Fraser; opening prayer by Seymour Fraser; Welcoming of guests by Goolgar; memorial tribute to honor mother of the guest of honor, Joycelyn Fraser; presentation of flowers – sons and son-in-law of guest of honor; and message from the grand– grandchildren of guest of honor.

There were also dance performances by the Impressions Dance Theater and Gaby Gatsby entertainment; toasts by sons, son-in-law, husband, father, brother of guest of honor; cake-cutting; and dancing to the sounds of DJs from Triple Alliance.

“Much love and appreciation go out to my daughter, Ashley, and the Afro team who were determined to celebrate this remarkable milestone, although they knew I only wanted to celebrate others for all the wonderful years they have been celebrating me,” Campbell, a former president of the Central Brooklyn Lions Club, told Caribbean Life.

“I must admit I was totally elated,” she added. “I was ecstatic with joy in seeing friends and family I have so longed to see.

“Much love and care were evident in the beautiful décor and presentation of participants as they serenaded me with well-choreographed dance from Impression Dance Studio, under the management of Vera Walcott-White,” she added. “I was filled with a sense of resignation believing that I must have done something good. Praise the Lord!”

Campbell was born in Kingston, Jamaica on Nov. 24 1957 to parents Seymour and Joyce Fraser, who were childhood sweethearts. Her mom passed on in 2006 at 66.

Campbell said her love and commitment to care for her dad encouraged her to make the necessary arrangements to bring him to the United States as she felt it is her mission to care for him in his later years. Her dad celebrated his 80th birthday on Sept. 29.

On completion of high school and college years in Jamaica, Campbell said she migrated to the United States in November 1980.

She said her “ambition and high sense of accomplishment” led her to continue her education. She has earned a bachelor’s degree and two master’s, and is currently the executive director of three of the city’s child care programs in Jamaica, Queens.

Campbell is married to James Campbell; and, like her parents, met James at the early age of 16. On Dec. 29, 2017, the couple will be celebrating 38 years of marriage.

Campbell said she also celebrates her 60th birthday with her three “wonderful” children — Robert, Ashley and Taylor; four “remarkable” grand-children — Kammy, Chubbs, Nate and Grayson; and son-in law, Kamal, and daughter in-law Janice.

“As a young child growing up, I watched my mother preserve in every aspect of her life,” Goolgar said. “As a wife, a sister, a daughter, a student, a teacher, and as a Christian, with a firm belief in God, I have watched my mother wear many hats, while remaining humble and dignified.

“My mom pushed me to be active in church and to always rely on God’s word,” she added. “As a dedicated member of Fenimore Street United Methodist Church for many years and now a member of Lenox Road Baptist Church [both in Brooklyn], my mom has taught me that, without God, your life will have no direction. So, I must always keep him near.

“There is a plaque that stood in the hallway at our old home on Sterling Street [in Brooklyn] that read, “Anyone can be a mother, but it takes someone special to be a mommy,’” she added. “My mom has lived up to the word ‘mommy’ and surpassed its greatness tenfold. As her daughter, I am honored to have made her 60th birthday a spectacular one.”

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