February 25, 2008
Velma Williams: Custodian of trust
By CAROL CLARK
Velma Williams was changing out the trash bag in a men’s restroom when she heard something clang against the metal bin. “I thought maybe somebody had lost their keys,” says Williams, who has worked as a custodian at Emory for nearly six years.
Williams started going through the trash by hand. “I’ve lost my keys before and I know how bad it can be,” she says. She traced the sound to an envelope. Inside, Williams found not keys but coins – along with $140 in bills. She turned the money over to a supervisor, who was able to locate the owner: a ticket booth employee at a nearby parking deck.
“He was so grateful,” Williams recalls. “He hugged me and said, ‘It’s so good to know there are still honest people out there.’ That really touched me. I looked at him and said, ‘Everybody’s not bad.’”
Williams received an “On-the-Spot Award,” a certificate and small gift card that Facilities Management uses to recognize employees. But that’s not why she took the time to sort through the trash. “I believe if you do good things, you reap a good harvest,” she explains. “I try to live every day in a way that makes a difference.”
She says she loves working in Facilities Management because the supervisors listen to employees and make them feel valued. “I get to work at 6 a.m. when hardly anyone else is here,” Williams says. “You have to have integrity to do this job. You’re in a position of trust.”