A couple of months ago, we learned that stories of how our colleagues live our values would be shared more widely.  This month, Catholic Charities is highlighting Debbie Miller, who recently retired from the Child and Family Services Division after 30 years of service.  Upon her retirement, she shared some memories and lessons learned. Here is her story in her own words:

When I started at Villa Maria 30 years ago, this became my second family.  Nina White hired me even though I failed my typing test two times.  She said she just had a feeling about me.  Little did she know. I started in the records room as the records room clerk at $4.11 an hour. I was amazed at the support I received from everyone when I first started.

It truly was like being with my family. I was a single mom with three little girls to raise, and I had so much support from everyone. When my girls would call when they got home from school Terri Gianforte always made sure I got the call. She is the one who taught me everything I know.

At lunchtime, everyone sat together. It didn’t matter if you were a doctor, housekeeper, Residential Treatment Counselor or the Administrator; we all ate lunch together. We talked about our families, not work.

Everyone participated in the Villa Fair, and we all did whatever we needed to do to make the day special for the kids. Christmas time was the same way. We all wrapped packages if necessary. Everyone worked together.

When my office was next to the health office, the kids would try to hide under my desk so they didn’t have to get a shot. Sometimes they would just hang out with me until it was their turn to be seen.

Some things I have learned:
• I have learned that everyone deserves respect when he or she enters our doors. It doesn’t matter who you are — a struggling parent, staff, a child having a bad day or the delivery man — you should always be pleasant, and, if someone has a problem, try to help.
• Family first.
• When changes occur, you need go with the flow and not create waves. Help to make the process run smoothly. Give constructive feedback.
• A smile and a kind word go along way. I’ve learned that if someone is angry, it helps if you keep your cool and do not get into a battle.
• As a supervisor, I learned that the kinder you are to people the easier it is to work with them. Treat everyone as your equal.
• When you ask someone to do a job, you should also be willing to do the job yourself, not just give directions on how to do it.
• Remember to thank others for a job well done on a regular basis.
• I have learned that relationships are important. It is important to have someone to lean on when you are having a bad day.
• I’ve learned to give someone a chance to do the job before you pass judgment.
• Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you are unsure.
• Listen before you judge someone.
• Pick your battles. Life is too short.
• Hug your kids, family members and friends. Tell them you love them.
• Life isn’t about surviving the storm, but how you dance in the rain.

If you want to share the story of one of your colleagues who embodies our values, please email Kristen Kinkopf, kkinkopf@cc-md.org.