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Food service employee honored for 50 years
Photo caption: Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital Chief Executive Officer Lary Davis, left, honored Willie Harris for her 50 years of service to the hospital during Adventist Midwest Health’s Service Awards Banquet April 23.

La Grange – When people feel sick, Food Service employee Willie Harris understands food might be the last thing on their minds.

But to help them in their healing, and to bring a moment of happiness to their day, Harris works hard to make sure the food she’s serving to patients looks pretty and appetizing.

“If I can make it look good, I hope that will mean people will want to give it a taste, making their day just a little bit brighter,” Harris said.

The Summit resident, who has worked with Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital for 50 years, was among those honored at the Adventist Midwest Health Service Awards Banquet on April 23. Harris is the longest serving honoree this year.

Since joining the staff shortly before she turned 18, Harris has watched the hospital grow in size and in the number of people it treats. Through her work, Harris sees herself as a servant for God, helping people in their time of need. She believes everyone at the hospital plays that same role.

“When you work here, it makes you feel as if you are giving back to people, helping to make them feel better,” Harris said. “You never know what kind of news someone has had that morning, or what they are facing, so I do my best to give them a smile and to bring a smile to their faces, as well.”

Harris is the ideal employee, putting her entire heart and soul into her work, hospital Clinical Nutrition Manager Debbie Regnier said.

“She knows exactly what our vision is for the patients, and she strives to make it better,” Regnier said. “She is an inspiration for all our employees.”

Working in cold food prep and room service, Harris pays tremendous attention to detail, and that’s evident in the way her food is prepared. Her signature work is so apparent that Regnier can even tell when Harris has prepared a fruit cup for a patient’s meal.

“Every piece of fruit is placed individually, and it’s just beautiful,” Regnier said. “It’s hotel quality work, that’s how gorgeous it is.”

Long-serving employees such as Harris are an integral part of the hospital and help make it a vital community institution, said Lary Davis, chief executive officer.

“Willie’s passion and desire to care for the hospital’s patients sets an example for staff throughout the building,” Davis said. “We are extremely thankful for her 50 years of service to Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital.”

Three hundred and sixty-five employees were recognized during the 2014 Service Awards Banquet. While Harris was the organization’s longest serving employee honored, several others were recognized for having 40 years of service. Among them were:

Susan Eminger, registered nurse in Labor and Deliver at Adventist Hinsdale Hospital
Susan Eminger loves just about every aspect of her job as a registered nurse in the Nursery at Adventist Hinsdale Hospital. “I get to play with babies every day,” Eminger said. “It’s hard to complain about that.” While in high school, the Westmont resident worked as a nurse’s aide during the summer. She decided she wanted to be a nurse when she graduated, and she started out as a licensed practical nurse. Later, she completed her studies as a registered nurse. Even after 40 years, Eminger finds that she’s still learning. “There’s always something new that I find out about every day,” she said.

Esther Jarrette, executive assistant in Ministries and Mission with Adventist Midwest Health
Esther Jarrette serves as executive assistant to John Rapp, the regional vice president for Ministries and Mission with Adventist Midwest Health. Originally from Trinidad and Tobago, Jarrette attended college in both Trinidad and the United States. The Hinsdale resident earned an associate degree from Caribbean Union College in Trinidad, and both her bachelor of science and master of arts in teaching business education degrees from Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Mich. Before joining Ministries and Mission in 2004, Jarrette served for many years as the executive assistant to the organization’s senior vice president for finance; and before leaving Trinidad, she served as the executive assistant to the president of the South Caribbean Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. Jarrette and her husband, Michael, are the proud parents of two sons: Rommel, who serves in the United States Air Force, and Larnelle, who is a sophomore in college

Israel Lopez, housekeeper in Environmental Services at Adventist Hinsdale Hospital
Israel Lopez began his tenure at Adventist Hinsdale Hospital in 1973 as a food service worker. He remained in that department for almost 20 years before moving over to environmental services. The Westmont resident joined the hospital staff after moving from Mexico three years earlier. His mother was already working at the hospital. “Over the years, I’ve suggested to a lot of people that they work here at Hinsdale,” Lopez said. “I really like the environment and the people. I feel like what I’m doing is something that I can feel proud of.”

Belkys Rode, specialty care technician in the Emergency Department at Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital
Belkys Rode began her career with the Adventist Health System in Argentina, at the River Plate Hospital in Entre Rios. She came to the Chicago area in 2000 and began her tenure with Adventist Midwest Health, joining the staff at Adventist GlenOaks Hospital. When Adventist Bolingbrook opened six years ago, the Calumet City resident transferred there to be closer to home. “I love working with patients and being able to offer the warmest, most sensitive and professional care that I can,” she said. “I have a desire to serve. It’s my calling.”

Gary Williams, senior market data analyst with Adventist Midwest Health
In what has felt like a short 40-year career, Senior Market Data Analyst Gary Williams has had a career full of opportunities that have taken him all over the country. He has worked hard to serve God in all he has done and has had the chance to supervise all aspects of accounting, decision support, patient financial services, medical records and more. “I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and befriending many people in many regions of the country and in many walks of life,” Williams said. “I’ve been truly blessed.”

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Adventist Midwest Health includes Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital, Adventist GlenOaks Hospital, Adventist Hinsdale Hospital and Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital. To find a physician, visit www.keepingyouwell.com.

Physicians on the medical staff of Adventist Midwest Health Hospitals are independent contractors, and are not agents of the hospitals.

Media contact: Chris LaFortune, public relations specialist, Adventist Midwest Health, christopher.lafortune@ahss.org; (630) 856-2354.