Story by: Henry Winkelhake on March 31, 2020
On a snowy day this winter, staff members at Norton Women’s & Children’s Hospital were amazed to come out of work and find their windshield wipers propped up to prevent freezing.
The mysterious superhero? Willma Smith, a contract security officer at the hospital and sometimes a shuttle driver between a satellite parking lot and the hospital.
“When you have a positive attitude, you get what you give,” Willma said. “I wake up thankful. I’m always thinking about what I can do to not only make my day better, but to give 100% to make someone else’s day better.”
Willma’s attitude is a frequent presence on the shuttle. She doesn’t just get you from point A to B. She makes sure you arrive at point B with a smile, then turns around and starts working on getting you home safely to point C. Colleagues agree that she does all of this with a delightfully positive attitude that motivates people to pay the kindness forward and help others.
Growing up with five brothers and six sisters, Willma learned the value of sharing and looking out for others. As a single mother, she raised her five children with loving support that helped them grow into successful adults. Now, Willma has taken on the responsibility of raising her niece’s five children, which keeps her time, energy and attention in high demand.
While she may experience some hectic days, you could never tell it from her attitude. Everyone who has the pleasure of working with her will tell you that Willma is a beacon of positivity, kindness and composure.
“From day one, Willma has met every single employee with a smile and a warm greeting,” said Keith Cook, security manager at Norton Women’s & Children’s Hospital.
Willma understands that the time she spends with employees on her shuttle is bigger than herself. Her positive attitude has a ripple effect that extends to patients and ultimately improves outcomes.
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Willma’s devout faith plays a huge role in the way she interacts with others.
“Whenever I’m feeling sad or down, I lift my head up because I know every single day God has something that he’s going to bless me with,” she said. “I just have to keep my head up to receive it.”
On her shuttle rides, she goes beyond smiles and small talk, taking genuine interest in the personal lives of her passengers, and she beams with pride when talking about her children. She even handed out Valentine’s Day treats and roses to her passengers.
“Willma goes above and beyond and has quickly become family,” said Charlotte Ipsan, DNP, RNC, NNP-BC, chief administrative officer, Norton Women’s & Children’s Hospital.
Last year around the holidays, Willma was driving her shuttle from the satellite lot at the beginning of the day. One of the employees on board asked her to pull over so they could give her a present. Willma still becomes emotional when thinking back to the moment she opened her gift to find a sweatshirt bearing the logo of her favorite football team, the Baltimore Ravens.
“It wasn’t so much the gift as much as what he said. He said that he appreciated who I was and my positive energy,” Willma said. “He said to me, which made me sob, ‘You make me a better person.’”
Willma’s story serves as a wonderful reminder that no matter where you are, or what your job is, you have the power to touch someone’s life and brighten their day.
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