Catering manager Lamar Elkins is so well-liked and respected around Floyd Medical Center in Rome, Georgia, that his Morrison colleagues couldn’t wait to help him move to his new house.
When word spread that Elkins, his wife and two young children were preparing to move into a new pre-built home provided by Habitat for Humanity, a movement developed among several co-workers to show their support. So on June 3, Morrison managers, staff and hospital leaders gathered at the future home site to build a new storage shed for his lawn mower and tools.
The work day was organized by Floyd’s Vice President of Support Services David Early, and several others quickly signed on. Morrison volunteers included Senior Director of Food & Nutrition Marc Cook; Retail Manager Emma Flanagan and Purchasing Manager Lemel Stephenson.
In addition to the Morrison team, volunteers from the hospital pitched in to show their support, too. These people included Floyd’s Director of Plant facilities, Ken Ozment; Director of Materials Management Kerry Collum; EVS Director Tim McNichols, Project Manager Christina Boyce and Auxiliary Volunteer Linda Hatcher.
Cook said the reason he and others volunteered on a weekend to help Elkins is summed up in one word: character. “Lamar’s character is infectious and makes others around him want to root for him. He is one of the nicest, most respectful, most humble and hardest working people that we all know. Not much time goes by before a member of the hospital staff calls, emails or stops me to let me know how much they appreciate the effort that Lamar puts into his job, and just the joy that he brings to each catering event that he is a part of.”
Elkins says he will never forget that day. “Everyone worked so hard all day for the sole purpose of making a big difference in my life,” Elkins said. “I appreciate everyone’s friendship and concern for me and my family to help make this move a smooth one.”
The crew arrived before 8 a.m. and quickly demonstrated they were up to the task. Cook, who worked as a carpenter out of high school many years ago, climbed on top of the shed and deftly wielded a nail gun to put up the roof trusses and walls.
A five-year Morrison employee, Elkins has earned the respect of his peers and supervisors since his first day on the job. Starting as a cashier in 2012, he was soon promoted to exhibition cook, helping prepare made-to-order meals in the café. When the catering manager’s position became available, Elkins was promoted. Cook says Elkins has made a difference that is clear to clients and staff.
“The catering area is right outside my office, so we interact every day and work together at many events,” Cook says. “His attitude and ability have helped improve our catering program and build trust with the hospital leadership’s team that Morrison can always meet their needs.”
As an example, Cook points to Elkins’ work with the hospital’s chef to prepare and deliver the meal for the hospital’s monthly board of governors meeting. This is a high visibility event where Elkins’ creativity and attention to every detail showcases Morrison’s commitment to client service.
The camaraderie between the Floyd Medical staff and Morrison personnel helped spark the effort to help Elkins. Not long ago, a hospital volunteer that works closely with Habitat for Humanity learned about Elkins’ search for new housing and referred him to the Habitat board of directors to apply for assistance. He was approved and the move-in date is near.
Morrison colleagues say Elkins personifies a culture of teamwork and caring for others and welcomed the opportunity to demonstrate their gratitude.
“Lamar is a phenomenal employee who finds new and creative ways to generate revenue for our department all while continuing to build strong relationships with everyone in the hospital,” said Flanagan. “He is an asset to our team and a loved member of our family. We just wanted to find a way to give back and tell him thank you for everything. “
While Elkins has built a strong resume at Morrison, he continues to ask for additional responsibilities in the hope of broadening his career options. He holds a degree in information technology from Georgia Highlands College and recently approached Early & Cook about gaining some IT experience and they didn’t hesitate to help. They’ve set up an internship program for Elkins with the hospital’s IT department in what could be the next step in Elkins’ journey as part of the Morrison family.