Introducing… the gift shop assistant manager
Helen Marriage is the assistant manager of the Give Shop at Juravinski Hospital. She has been working at HHS for five years.
Favourite colour: yellow/ book: Anne of Green Gables/ music: 50’s and 60’s/ animal: dog/ food: sweets/ holiday: Christmas
What is your role at HHS?
It is my job to receive the merchandise into our system, process the invoices and send to Head Office for payment. I do the scheduling for the Give Shop. As well I serve customers, do ordering for the sundries and put out merchandise. I love unpacking and putting out the Christmas Merchandise. I love every job that I do.
What do you love most about your job?
I love the customers: talking with them and sharing their happiness and grief. We talk about anything and everything. It is usually a short conversation as there are usually customers waiting to be served as well. When someone is really upset I ask them if they would like a hug and most times they say yes. I try to give them words of encouragement as I lost my Husband and do know the feeling of grief. Patients and customers need not be alone in their sadness or happiness.
Describe one of your most challenging days at work.
The hardest day was when I found out that a patient who had become a friend passed away. He was very young. We just hit it off and he came down every evening to the old gift shop and bought scratch tickets. If his mother couldn’t find him she knew he would be in the shop with me. He even invited me to share a Chinese food dinner after I finished work one evening. I lent him books as he was an avid reader. I learned so much from him. He was a scholar, a musician, humanitarian and more. He was a wonderful person. I will always miss and cherish our friendship.
What do you wish you had more time for at work?
I wish I had more time for talking with the customers. I love to joke around, make people laugh, and take their mind down a happier path—if only for a short time. To hear people laugh is the greatest medicine.
What are your favourite ways to spend your free time?
I love walking my dog, spending time with my daughter, grand daughter and sister. I love travelling as well.
What do you eat to keep you energized at work?
To be honest, candy—and that is all the time, not just at work. I do bring a healthy lunch to balance things out.
Tell us about your most gratifying experience at HHS.
The most amazing experience was when the management team came into the shop and told us we had won the Platinum Reader’s Choice Award from The Hamilton Spectator. We all screamed, jumped up and down, and hugged everyone who would let us. That was in 2015, the first time we were nominated, and we also won the Platinum for this year, 2016. We are a great team. We know what a great team we are, but to have customers acknowledge that is something else.
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