On March 27, Certified Executive Housekeeper of the Fisher Houses Betty White received the Navy Lodging Traveler’s Award for excellence in performing her daily responsibilities.
The hard-working native of Saint Catherine, Jamaica, was in disbelief when she found out she was chosen for the award. “I’m still surprised that I received the award because you can’t surprise me. I’ll find out eventually,” said White. “But, I was just floored – I couldn’t get up. This award means that I have to step up to the plate, be more productive, keep the bar up and don’t stop moving forward.”
The Traveler’s Award is given to the civilian employee who exemplifies the highest standards of professionalism, attitude, customer service and job knowledge as determined by the Navy Lodging program. Nominees are submitted and selected by the lodging program panel.
Pam Smith, Fisher House program manager, describes some of White’s best qualities as her leadership, her training and the ability to rally her staff and set the standards high so that everybody stays devoted to the same mission.
“I’m only as good as my staff around me and how well I train them and teach them, and I think that’s Betty’s philosophy,” said Smith. “She works incredibly hard and she’s right in there with her people and that’s how she is. Betty respects her people and they respect her for that. They all work incredibly well together.”
When she talks about her daily duties and the people she works with, White tends to look up in the air and smile. Quick talking and bubbly, you can tell how much she cares for her staff and enjoys creating a home away from home every day.
“I love working for Fisher House,” said White. “I love my job. Very early in the morning, I’m the first one to come and the last one to go in the end. In order for you to stay motivated, you have to love what you do. I love what I do and I love to see the place clean.”
White has been in the business of cleaning for quite some time. She retired in June 2009 after 29 years as a supervisor for housekeeping at Howard University, (where she also received clinical training and became a certified phlebotomist.) White also took on a part time job at the Navy Exchange in 2006 that eventually lead her on a path to working for Fisher House in 2010.
When asked of her motivation to stay in the same field for so long, White had simple yet insightful words.
“My motivation is to keep looking inside-outside,” said White. “You can’t tell from the outside what the inside is, so if the outside is not looking presentable then what?”
White’s dedication to her job and her staff point to why she was chosen as this year’s recipient of the award. The short-haired woman with bangle-covered wrists and rings on most of her fingers displays true care for every person she comes into contact with.
The Fisher Houses take care of service members and families in need, and White sits right at the top of the totem pole of care-giving. If you were to only spend five minutes talking to her, it is plain to see what sets her apart for the award.
“Every guest walking through the door is important, and they should walk into a beautiful facility and feel as if they are right at home and like they are the most important person on the planet, because they are,” said Smith. “Betty sets that standard and it doesn’t matter how many people walk through that door, Betty makes them feel that the room is for them. Betty and the team are truly amazing. She understands keeping up the standards, because when you’re in the medical facility you have to be on [top of your game], and Betty’s on it.”
Betty White knows that without the support of her management and her staff, she wouldn’t have come this far.
“I want to thank my staff. They do a great job every day, and it’s hard work,” said White. “I also want to thank my managers Tammy Davis, Pam Smith, Becky Wood and Michael Ybarre because they help encourage me and whatever I need to complete my job or task, they would help me in any way that they can.”