2006-08-03 / News

Morale, attitude, and love of their job earn these workers five stars

By Dan Caley

Veronica Pereira (left) and Jessie Lanterman love their jobs at the naval station. Both also love to travel and the money they earn pays for it. Both women live with their parents. Photo by Dan Dan Caley Veronica Pereira (left) and Jessie Lanterman love their jobs at the naval station. Both also love to travel and the money they earn pays for it. Both women live with their parents. Photo by Dan Dan Caley Islanders Veronica Pereira and Jessie Lanterman are among the employees of the Newport Naval Station's food service galley. They get much of the credit for the facility's recently-earned fivestar rating and the opportunity to compete for the Navy's coveted Captain Edward F. Ney Memorial Award.

The overall effectiveness of the naval station's dining service depends in no small part on frontline workers like Pereira and Lanterman who staff the facility through a contract with the James L. Maher Center, which operates a wide variety of programs for people with developmental disabilities living in Newport County.

"Earning a five-star rating is a tribute to the people you have working for you. They have to want it," said Food Service Officer Lane Hopwood. "Morale and attitude are everything here."

Three weeks ago, a naval supply systems command review team awarded the facility the fivestar rating following an two day evaluation of housekeeping, safety, sanitation, menus, food preparation, customer satisfaction, inventory control, and cash handling.

The Maher Center workers staff the long serving line, maintain the salad and beverage bar, bring trays of hot entrees from the kitchen, replenish the supply of clean dishes, silverware, and glasses, keep the dining room clean and set up the tables with napkins, condiments, salt and pepper, wash and clean floors, tables and counters, and operate the automated dishwashing and garbage disposal systems.

"In many ways, the galley's reputation depends on our employees with disabilities, said Hopwood.

"In this business, your reputation depends on literally hundreds of individual experiences and perceptions that accumulate day in and day out. The people from the

Maher Center provide consistently great service and do it with enthusiastic cheerfulness. Everyone notices," he said.

According to Maher Center Director Jack Maher, the chance to work is of extraordinary importance to people who have a disability. They want ordinary lives. They want the same day-to-day things everyone does: love, family, a job, a home, friends, money, control, fun, a belief in something and someone, and a chance to contribute. "Some people may need a little more support than usual to achieve these goals, and that's the help we provide," Maher said.

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