A few days ago, I was part of a long and cherished tradition at Texas Children’s – the Employee Recognition Celebration, which honors employees who have served the organization at least 15 years. I love this celebration because when I walk into the room, it’s so full of excitement and energy and laughter and memories. It simply gives me goose bumps.
As I visited almost every table in the room, I’d look at the employees’ faces, hear their names, and I’d remember how we started. There were just 1,400 of us when I arrived in 1989. So everyone in the room celebrating 25 to 40 years, well we’ve been together a long time. And when we started out together, we were like the Spartans – we were a small group, but fearless.
We knew together that we could accomplish great things. So it was really special to connect at this year’s celebration. It was a remarkable reminder of how we all came together – along with the Board, Dr. Feigin and the medical staff – and just knew we were going to do something amazing here.
Taking the stage and looking out into the crowd, those first few moments were pretty emotional and very special. There were 415 Texas Children’s employees being honored for their collective 7,460 years of service to our organization. In those moments, looking out into the room, I thought, “This is our core.” Long-term employees who have been here 15, 20, 25 years or more, they are our core. They are the organization’s backbone – the guardians and caretakers of our mission and culture. Their passion, and most importantly, their commitment are the secret to our decades of success.
Employees like Valesca Adams live, breathe and drive our mission every day. Valesca, a nurse in renal dialysis, was celebrating 40 years of service to the organization – 38 of those years have been in the same unit. Dedication and longevity like hers strengthens our foundation. When Nancy Hurst joined Texas Children’s 30 years ago, she began our lactation support program and the milk bank was created. She has worked tirelessly to educate new mothers ever since, and her work has been invaluable to the health of newborns.
And I couldn’t help but break into a smile when I chatted with Keith Strobel, a systems analyst who was celebrating his 25th year right along with me. Keith was one of the Spartans. Jewel Mitchell was also celebrating 25 years of service. She began her career here just six months before I did. When I stopped by Jewel’s table at the celebration, she talked about how much change and growth she has seen during her time here. Jewel said the past 25 years have been “one heck of a ride.” I couldn’t have said it any better.
Everywhere I turned, there was a face with a story and a life dedicated to serving others. I was honored to stand amongst them all as I remembered my own milestone anniversary and my own commitment to service. It really has been one heck of a ride, and we’ve come such a long way. Yet, I feel like we’re just getting started. Thank you all so much for this wonderful journey.