Lessiter Lore — Staff Showed ‘Heart & Soul’ For One of Its Own

By Mike Lessiter, President

Back in 2008, I took a phone call no one ever wants to take. It was Doug, the husband of our receptionist, Joy Snyder. Moments later, I had to share a difficult message with everyone in the conference room at the old building — delivering the sad news that our friend Joy had passed away.

Those of you who were here in 2008 (Christopher, Sue, Dave, Bree, Amy, Darrell, Sandy, Frank and Pam), will remember Joy and her distinctive laugh that would carry from the reception desk throughout all corners of the office. (Ask Frank about the time he surprised her in his "executive suit.")

Not long after she joined us in 2006, Joy was diagnosed with breast cancer. Doug was an independent contractor, and they and their 2 children were on LM's insurance program. As Joy continued to miss work, Office Manager Alice Musser and I reviewed the options our small staff had to keep her on the payroll. "Our creative solution was to assist by having coworkers donate our paid time off (PTO) days to her," recalls Alice.

After a Management Team discussion and conference call with our HR consultant, we presented a voluntary program to LM employees in early February that year.

About half of our 18 employees voluntarily donated paid time off days to Joy so she could remain on the payroll, covering her family's insurance program and a continuation of her wages.

The response was quick. Our small staff of 18 swiftly donated 643 hours to the Snyders.

We were all surprised and saddened when Joy died unexpectedly on February 13 at age 53. Her family received additional pay (as permitted by law) and coverage for the premiums for medical/dental and prescription reimbursements until the funds were exhausted. Joy didn't get a chance to personally say thanks to her friends here, but she knew about the plan before her passing. Knowing Joy, she would've reacted with heartfelt hugs that took all her strength — the kind that could bend your eyeglasses.

On another occasion a few years ago, 12 employees donated paid time off to a co-worker who needed to stay home and recuperate, again showing the "soul" behind those who call LM their home.

We do a lot of great work here, but few singular moments can match the pride in seeing a small staff selflessly stepping up to help one of their own. The clouds of tragedy are often where true colors shine through the most; and it was felt, and not forgotten.