In an age when most people spend an average of 4.6 years working for the same company, it’s quite an accomplishment. Even at Omnitrans, where the average employee stays for 12 years, Teresa is an anomaly. What’s her secret?
“I love what I do, and Omnitrans is like family to me,” says Teresa simply. “I started here as the first dispatcher for our special transit service in 1978. I’ve known most of my co-workers for years, and I care about them. They’ve become an important part of my life, and we share a history. Many of us have seen this agency grow from a little office trailer in a gravel bus yard to a modern building with a fleet of 164 coaches. It’s amazing when you think back and realize how far we’ve come.
Today Teresa works in our finance department. She enjoys her job and is proud of the level of confidence her bosses have in her. She handles all accounts receivable, and it’s a position of trust she takes seriously.
She also likes the fact that Omnitrans is willing to invest in its employees through on the job training and education. “When I first started here in ’78, there were no computers. When technology grew and they became an essential, everyday part of the workplace, I learned those skills from my peers and supervisors. They taught me well, and I know my job because of it. I’m also a member of the agency’s Toastmasters group, which has helped immensely in improving my speaking abilities. I’ve gained more confidence and use a lot fewer ‘ums’ and ‘ahs’ when I talk now!” she laughs.
Over the past year, Teresa has taken on a leadership role as a health advocate in the Omnitrans Wellness Program. Her lunch classes, which featured a mix of food sampling, educational materials and funny, down-to-earth conversations about healthy choices, were among the best attended in the agency.
“It was a fun way to get people to try new things and just share some great tips,” says Teresa. “I knew that some of these people would never even think about buying foods like hummus or kale at the grocery store in a million years. It just wasn’t something they were familiar with. But when I brought items into class for people to try, they loved it. We sampled everything from kale chips to chorizos and learned healthy alternatives to some of their favorite foods.”
Teresa is probably most proud of her role as a union rep for the teamsters. “I’ve learned so much, in particular the importance of maintaining a balanced overview. You have to treat people with respect, know all the facts, and always work for a solution. A lot has to do with getting along with other employees and remembering there is always time for laughter, being personable and smiling. That’s all it takes to make friends. I’m fair but I’m also not afraid to call people on their stuff if they are wrong. They respect me for that, and I’ve never had a problem.”
To Teresa, Omnitrans means more than just a job. It is a constant source of pride. “The service we provide is so important to the people in our community, and I’m proud to be part of that.” She smiles, “It feels good to know you’re helping to make a difference.”
– Juno Kughler Carlson
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