Gwendolyn L. Wise has been helping to serve students as a food services worker at Snelling Dining Commons and a UGA staff member for 13 years. So it was a nice change of pace, she said, to be served lunch and have an opportunity to socialize with co-workers May 25 at Staff Appreciation Day at the intramural fields.
The carnival-style event, hosted by the Office of the President, offered food, live music, door prizes and activities as a sign of appreciation to the hard work of staff members.
“This is a way for the University of Georgia and the President’s Office to say ‘thank you’ to all of you for the great work that you do here to continue to move our university forward,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead at the event.
This was second year the event has been held, and many staff members were impressed with the organization of this year’s event, which offered shorter lines for food and activities as well as more seats in the shade than last year.
The event was organized by a campus-wide Staff Appreciation Day Committee.
Michael Lewis, chair of the Staff Council and an IT professional specialist in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences’ geology department, was part of the planning team.
As the event kicked off, Lewis greeted staff at the entry gate with bags to hold free items provided by corporate sponsors. He said he enjoyed seeing the smiles on staff members’ faces as they came to the event.
“All of us work pretty hard,” Lewis said. “It’s nice to be recognized for that hard work.”
Activities included the return of the mechanical bulldog ride as well as new inflatable jousting games and plenty of lawn games.
For many staff members, the chance to eat and socialize with coworkers as well as meet new people was the highlight of the event.
After finishing lunch provided by Trumps Catering, Tina Fears and Dana Jordan-Smith, co-workers from EITS, relaxed in camping chairs and chatted.
“It does make you feel appreciated,” Fears said, “just to get out of the office to socialize and fellowship, to meet people you talk to on the phone but never see.”
“And the free food is great,” added Jordan-Smith. “That’s something I didn’t have to worry about today. That’s nice.”
Lewis said he was pleased that this annual event has become so popular with staff. Roughly 4,000 staff members attended the event.
Staff Appreciation Day is supported by private funds and contributions from corporate sponsors such as Kaiser Permanente, Georgia United Credit Union and BB&T.
“This is a great tradition,” Lewis said. “I’m grateful that President Morehead and his office have worked so hard to keep this going and to make our staff feel appreciated.”