As part of our ongoing effort to introduce members to various Liberty HealthShare employees through our "human interest" stories, today we're sharing an interview with our shuttle driver, Paula (pictured left).
You might be wondering why Liberty needs a shuttle driver. Thanks to constant growth and expansion, our parking lot simply cannot accommodate all staff throughout the day. For about a year, multiple staff members have been parking at a remote location and riding the shuttle to and from our main office each day.*
Anyone who rides the Liberty HealthShare shuttle will tell you the highlight of their experience (and often their entire day) is seeing and interacting with Paula. In fact, last May at our All-Employee Summit, as decided by a vote of her peers, Paula was honored with our "Ambassador Award," awarded to the employee who best exemplifies the values of the organization. Here's some of our recent conversation with her:
How long have you worked for Liberty HealthShare?
I started January 30, 2017, so I've been here a little over a year.
What industry did you work in before coming to Liberty?
I worked in retail at a local grocery store for over twenty years.
What made you feel like Liberty would be a good fit for you?
You know, I was working at the grocery store. Like I said, I had been there twenty years and always took great pride in working there. I had always been part-time. On Wednesdays, I also cleaned a doctor's office before church. In between jobs I saw a Facebook post about the shuttle driver position and noticed that it said "no weekends." I couldn't believe there was a position out there that would allow me to work and not miss church on Sunday.
I hadn't ever heard of Liberty, but I love to drive, and the schedule sounded perfect. I came out and interviewed with the HR director and the facilities manager, and they offered me the job the same day. I couldn't believe it!
The transition from my old job to Liberty was amazing. I'm a middle-aged woman without a lot of skills, but this has been so easy. The only difficult part was telling my manager at the grocery store that I had found another job.
What does a normal day look like for you?
I arrive at 7 a.m. to warm up the bus and my riders start arriving at 7:20 a.m. It's 3 miles roundtrip. I make six runs in the morning. From 11 a.m. to 4:15 p.m., I sit at a desk and scan applications, which I love doing. Then I start pickups again at 4:30 p.m. and do seven evening runs.
My schedule is 7 a.m. to 6:15 p.m. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I go home between the morning and evening runs to spend the afternoon with my dad, who lives with us. I don't feel like my days are long. In fact, they fly by.
What is the best part of your job?
It's hard to name just one. The people, for sure. I call my riders my precious cargo and pray for them every morning. One of the best things is when someone hangs back and wants to talk to me and have me pray for them. It's amazing, like a bus ministry!
When I started, I was only driving. I live pretty far away, so they offered to bring me on full-time so I wouldn't have to split my day and go home in between shuttle shifts. When I'm not driving, I get to sit at a desk - I still smile that I have a desk with my name on it - and process applications.
The flexibility has been wonderful - I went to the HR director and told her my schedule made it difficult to get to church on Wednesday nights. I asked if shuttle service could stop at 5:30 p.m. just on Wednesdays and she answered, "Of course. Why didn't you ask sooner?"
I've been so honored by this experience. When I hit my one-year mark, Dale (the Executive Director) called me into his office to give me a card from him and Drudy (the Associate Director). Even when the shuttle bus goes away, they've already told me that I'm staying. I'm excited to see what the Lord lays on their hearts for me to do.
On a personal note, this past year has been financially life-changing for my husband and I. We have no debt now and we also have money in savings. I've never had a new car in my life, but we were able to purchase one. I named her Miss Liberty! I think God has blessed us so abundantly this year because we're finally able to tithe faithfully. It's a beautiful package with a huge bow on it and I just love it.
I praise the Lord for this year, for the people, for the company. I always say on my Facebook: "I love this place, I love these people, I love this job."
Are there any stories that have impacted you or are a particularly proud moment for you?
I just appreciate when employees tell me, "Paula, you're the best part of starting my morning and ending my day!" and, "I love that you're the first person I'm going to see in the morning when I get on the bus."
The shuttle bus is an inconvenience, but they say I make it worth it. We've had a lot of laughs.
It's amazing how helpful and considerate everyone at Liberty is. The people around me have been so kind, sharing little things with me to make my desk work more comfortable. They come over and help me when I don't understand what the computer is doing. No one has ever made me feel silly. Everyone is wonderful.
I have people approach me on the bus and at my desk asking for prayer. I love to pray for people and they know that.
What was your reaction when you found out you had won the Ambassador Award at the All-Employee Summit?
When they started talking about the award, I didn't know what it was about. I just remember praying, "Lord, whoever gets this award deserves it." It never crossed my mind that I would win it. There were so many other people who should have gotten it.
Is there anything else you feel like sharing about yourself?
My husband and I have been married for 35 years. We have an awesome son who does IT work. Our daughter and her husband have a beautiful 3-year-old daughter. She'll become a big sister to a baby brother this month.
I'm very active in my church, where I sing in the choir. I had my first solo in December. Nobody booed, so I think it went well!
I'm a people person. I love, love, love people. There isn't anyone I can't talk to.
We want to thank Paula for taking the time to answer our questions. Her joy and love for others are infectious. We couldn't be happier to have her on staff.
*Due to some long-awaited facility changes, as of this week, we no longer require a remote parking area and shuttle service. However, Paula will remain on staff at Liberty, working in our reception area. Now even more staff members and visitors will be blessed each day by her sweet spirit!