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On Island Profile: Mariel Hedrington

June 19, 2006 – When Mariel Hedrington smiles – which she does often – it is with a genuine joie de vivre. Hedrington, who is the chief enforcement officer for the Finance Department, knows she's been blessed in life, and she passes that on whenever she gets a chance, along with crediting the people who have helped her along the way.
She said in a recent interview that former Attorney General Alva Swan, who died last July, saw her potential and helped her rise from secretary to corrections officer to her current position. "I will never stop blessing him," she says.
But many of her blessings have been of her own making. While raising three children, Hedrington often worked two jobs to make ends meet. She also went to school part time, eventually getting her bachelor's degree.
She started out as an administrative assistant with Finance back in the late '70s. Wanting to "move up," she says she saw an opening for a corrections officer and decided to go for it. At the same time, she was working in the kitchen at the former Ferrari's Restaurant on St. Thomas' North Side. Again someone saw her potential. This time it was Craig and Sally Darash.
"They wanted me to try being a waitress," Hedrington says. "I was nervous, but I said 'OK.'"
That part-time job led to the building of her first home. "I saved all my tips in a big glass bottle," she said.
Four years later when she broke open the bottle and counted her tips, Hedrington found she had enough money to build her cistern and slab.
"I remember my children when they saw all the money; 'We're rich, Mommy,' they told me," Hedrington laughs.
Her children didn't fall far from the tree: all of them have held or are currently working in public safety positions.
Her son, Neal Chesterfield, is a V.I. Port Authority officer; daughter, Ebony Maynard, was a member of the V.I. Police Department before moving to Florida, where she is currently working on a degree in Police Science; Hedrington's other son, Maurice Maynard Jr., is a firefighter in Florida.
Considering that Hedrington holds the title, "Queen of Law Enforcement," is it so surprising to find the family trait running strongly through her offspring? She has been the queen, kind of by default, for three years now.
It all started when Samantha Mathurin, an attorney working in the Attorney General's Office, approached Hadrington to convince her to compete for the title. Hedrington wasn't sure. She asked her daughter. "My daughter said, 'You go for it, Mommy.'"
And go for it she did – in a big way.
For the professional wear competition, Hedrington said, "I created Inspector Gadget. I came out with a plastic weapon in a little car that someone made for me."
For the talent portion, Hedrington says she "did" Tina Turner, which included a "skit" where Hedrington talked about domestic violence. Hedrington says Turner is her hero. "She's an old lady, but she still looks good."
Along with her law enforcement duties and extracurricular activities, Hedrington is very involved with her church, Wesley Methodist Church in Tutu.
She said she was always religious but had little time for church when she was working several jobs – even more so with the Corrections Bureau with its odd hours — and raising three children.
She says she joined the church a year ago — and naturally in a big way. She is the assistant supervisor of Sunday school and is involved with a group at the church that performs pantomime. The group visits the sick and shut-ins regularly.
Along with all that, Hedrington makes breakfast for the Sunday school students.
With her children grown and gone, Hedrington says it was "time to do the Lord's work."
She loves to dance and travel and says she would like to go to Greece someday.
She would also like to meet a good man with whom to share the rest of her life, she says. But not just anyone. "If I could find a Godly husband, someone who is going in the same direction," she says, "I could settle down."
But the lack of that special someone in no way puts a damper on her enthusiasm. "I feel good about my life. It makes me want to help others."
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