Stanley in the kitchenIf you’ve ever stepped foot in the West Loop cafeteria at Mercy Home, you know Stanley Smith. Whether you were offered a pastry, a drink, or a smile, Stan makes sure that every coworker leaves the cafeteria happy.

“I know your job is hard, and I’m here to help,” he said. “I’m a support staff. I look at it just like that.”

And Stan has been helping the coworkers at Mercy Home for a long time—since 2001! After his aunt, who worked at Mercy Home at the time, told him that “Mercy Home need someone like you,” he took a job in facilities and spent 13 years there.

But finding himself having a difficult time paying attention to just one task at a time, Mercy Home management thought he might be a better fit in the kitchen.

“When you work facilities, you’re everywhere, you know everybody, [and] you’re always helpful,” Stan said.

With that in mind, Stan was offered a job working with our coworkers in the kitchen and has been there since.

Stan finds the job here interesting, especially after coming from his background as a computer operator in the U.S. Army.

“I figure when you work with people, you become more you than just a cog in the machine.”

“You do whatever that machine tells you to, and you try to do it faster, but you can never do it as fast as the machine, so you’re stuck in an endless loop of the same thing,” he said.

“I figure when you work with people, you become more you than just a cog in the machine.”

A native, lifelong Chicagoan, Stan joined the military in 1980, right after completing high school. As a computer operator, he ran the “big machines,” specifically the counting machines that, not surprisingly, “just counted stuff.”

“Basically, the army was cool because I got to travel, meet all kinds of new people,” he said.

But Stan eventually became disillusioned with military life after seeing firsthand what war was like. He especially disliked the idea of having to kill anyone.

“I’m more artist at heart than a murderer,” he said. “I can’t kill people.”

“There are so many cool people here, all the time. I mean, just the nicest people. And the donors, these people care, they don’t have to. Every donor I’ve ever met has been the kindest, gentlest person I’ve ever met. Isn’t that amazing?”

After leaving the army, Stan worked in several career fields—running his own business, working as a teacher’s aide, and then as a janitor in a school. When that school shut down, he came to Mercy Home.

But why stay for almost 20 years? It’s pretty simple, according to Stan.

“Why do I stay, because I believe in the mission,” he said. “There are so many cool people here, all the time. I mean, just the nicest people. And the donors, these people care, they don’t have to. Every donor I’ve ever met has been the kindest, gentlest person I’ve ever met. Isn’t that amazing?”

And after seeing firsthand all that Mercy Home does for the kids in our care, he feels even more strongly that our Home’s mission is important.

“It’s simple, you ask anybody, [it’s] the mission,” he said. “That’s why we get a lot of people to come back [to Mercy Home after leaving].”

We are thankful for all the coworkers at Mercy Home who make the great work done here possible!

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