What makes a workplace special? Seven Marylanders share their stories

By Catholic Review Staff
Labor Day is often thought of as a day of barbeques, leisure and spending time with family. Held annually on the first Monday of September, the holiday was originally founded to honor the social and economic achievements of American workers, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
“Work is fundamental to the dignity of the person,” Pope Francis has said.
To commemorate Labor Day and celebrate American workers, the Catholic Review asked seven employees to share what makes their workplace special and why they enjoy where they work. Job perks were also highlighted to show the various ways employers reward and value their employees.
School Sister of Notre Dame Patricia McCarron, headmistress of Notre Dame Preparatory School, has worked at the Towson school for 10 years. She embraces the spirit of the SSND tradition at one of Baltimore’s oldest Catholic college preparatory schools for girls.  
NDP has been named a Baltimore Sun Top Workplace since the program’s inception, in 2011, 2012 and 2013.
Why is Notre Dame Preparatory School a great place to work?

“The people of Notre Dame Prep. Our students are wonderful and talented; our teachers, administrators and staff gifted and dedicated; our Board visionary; our alumnae faithful; our parents supportive; and our sponsoring order, the School Sisters of Notre Dame, inspiring. Notre Dame is the place it is because of how we come together as a community under one mission of academics, spirituality and service to educate young women to transform the world.”
“From the moment I walked onto campus as a first-year teacher 30 years ago, I realized there was a spirit about NDP – the spirit of the SSNDs. This spirit comes to life through our fabulous students who inspire us to dream big, meet challenges and celebrate success. Rooted in tradition and contemporary in education, Notre Dame is blessed with wonderful people who embrace the SSND mission and carry it out every day and in every way. NDP is a faith-filled community where everyone is cared for, respected and most importantly, loved.”
Job perks: Funding of professional development including tuition and conferences, Sister Ellis Denny Faculty Enrichment Award, 35,000 item library, liturgy celebrations on Holy Days, on-site fitness center, opportunities to volunteer and chaperone locally and internationally, daily prayer, faculty retreats, summer hours
St. Cecilia, Baltimore, parishioner Gaystella Armstead has worked as a bookkeeper for the United Food and Commercial Workers Union in Towson (UFCW Local 27), for the past seven years.
UFCW’s 1.3 million members work in a range of industries, with the majority working in retail food, meatpacking and poultry, food processing and manufacturing, and retail stores. UFCW’s mission is to represent its members and provide a voice in the workplace, so that all workers have the opportunity to reach the American Dream.
Why is UFCW a great place to work?
“This place is the best. I was in banking for 25 years and a former coworker referred me to the union. When I first went to a membership meeting and they started off with a prayer I thought, ‘Oh, this is where I belong.’”
“It’s nice to know you’re working with people who ultimately know the goal, so we all contribute from our different avenues and we all come together,” she said.
Job perks: Prayer before every meeting, flexibility as far as job schedule, so Armstead can attend classes at Notre Dame of Maryland University
Joan D’Loughy, a PRIDE teacher at St. John Regional Catholic School, Frederick, received recognition for her dedication to students with a 2014 Teacher of the Year Award from the St. Katharine Drexel Knights of Columbus Council No. 14011.
Working with students with special needs, the educator of 40 years knows she can make a positive impact at work. The Catholic K-8 school was named a Washington Post 2014 Top Workplace and won The People’s Choice Award for the 2014 Frederick County Best Places to Work Awards. 
Why is St. John Regional Catholic School a great place to work?
“St. John Regional is a great place to work because we have a community like a family here. We have very dedicated teachers who love the children, are very enthusiastic and always looking out for the kids’ best interests. We have very cooperative and supportive parents.”
“There’s a real sense of outreach here. We reach out to the community in a lot of different ways, which is very Christian. We are not just here for teaching or the children but here to teach the children to expand themselves in a broader sense in life. “
Job perks: Family-oriented atmosphere, generous holiday vacation time, spiritual enrichment, volunteer opportunities.
Melissa Stevens, a social media strategist, will celebrate her one-year anniversary at Catholic Relief Services this September. Headquartered in Baltimore, CRS is an international humanitarian agency that serves the poor and vulnerable overseas with assistance based solely on need.
With a mission to “assist impoverished and disadvantaged people,” CRS employees enjoy the added employment benefit of knowing they can help to make a difference every day.
Why is CRS a great place to work?
“Catholic Relief Services is a great place to work because of the work we do. Everyone who works for CRS is driven by the same mission – to help the poor and vulnerable. And when everyone is working towards the same goal, you feel like your job has a greater purpose. Catholic Relief Services is the best at what they do, and being part of an organization that can truly make an impact makes coming into work every day worth it.”
“My coworkers are the best at what they do and it’s a privilege to work side by side with them. Each of them is so talented at the jobs they perform, which inspires me to always be forward thinking and do my best every day.”
Job perks: Excellent work, life and family balance, maternity leave, fitness center, opportunities for overseas travel, tuition reimbursement.
St. Joseph, Fullerton, parishioner Melisa Batac has worked at Oak Crest, a retirement community in Parkville, for 19 years.
As Oak Crest readies to celebrate its 20th Anniversary in 2015, a shared philosophy continues to connect employees and our residents since day one: “We share our gifts to create communities that celebrate life.” Oak Crest has consistently been honored as one of the Baltimore Business Journal’s Best Places to Work.
Why do you love working at Oak Crest?
“Simply, I love working at Oak Crest because of the people. Nineteen years ago, I held two part-time jobs before accepting a weekend position as a Communications Specialist in the first clubhouse. It was a life-changer. I enjoyed working with seniors so much that I decided to make a career of it, and now serve as the Sales Counselor. It is always special when new residents thank me for helping them change their life for the better as they enjoy our community.”
“Additionally, some special residents who are Catholic helped my parents become active at St. Joseph’s in Fullerton. I’ll always appreciate their guidance, and it’s really like I have 2,000 parents who look after me. My dad never has to worry!”
Job perks: A fitness center open 24/7, multiple dining venues, wellness fund that offers reimbursement for fitness-related expenses, scholarship opportunities and tuition reimbursement, on-site health center, training and career development programs.
Director of technology Amanda Trapani has enjoyed working at The Catholic High School of Baltimore for the past seven years. Founded in 1939, the staff of the all-girls college preparatory school remains “dedicated to the education of young women,” as stated in the school’s mission.
Like NDP, the Catholic High School has also been named a Baltimore Sun Top Workplace since the program’s inception, in 2011, 2012 and 2013.
Why do you love working at The Catholic High School?
“Catholic High is a great place to work because we are a ‘community’ of employees and students.  As you walk the hallways each day, you feel surrounded by family.  As an alumna of Catholic High, I especially feel like I’m at home in the workplace.  We have a shared goal to empower our young women within the community.”
“I like working here because our school is a welcoming, warm, and joyous community.  We support and encourage each other in order to promote our Franciscan-centered mission to our students and parents.  We integrate the latest technology into our curriculum, which makes it very exciting to utilize these tools every day.  With such an exciting and dynamic atmosphere, no one work day is ever the same!”
Job perks: Weekly morning prayer in chapel, liturgy celebrations with school community, generous vacation time, funding toward dining hall and school store.
St. Cecilia, Baltimore, parishioner Lynda M. Brown has worked for the past six years as a  developmental disabilities licensure coordinator for the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in the Office of Health Care Quality.
The Office of Health Care Quality licenses and certifies Maryland state health care facilities. The OHCQ uses state and federal regulations, which set forth the minimum standards for provision of care and conducts surveys to determine compliance. The OHCQ also educates providers, consumers and other stakeholders through written materials, presentations, its website and at conferences and seminars.
What do you enjoy most about working for DHMH – Office of Health Care Quality?
“Working with dynamic coworkers, supervisors, coordinators, managers, nurse surveyors, sanitarians and nutritionists. This dynamic cadre of people has a clinical as well as a hands-on approach to serving Maryland citizens who reside in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, hospitals, hospice centers, etc. It’s extremely rewarding that I am in a position as a front-line experienced health care professional to work with colleagues, community persons, legislators and stakeholders to make a difference regarding the provision of health care and to do my part to ensure access to quality health care for all Marylanders.
Just to know that my small influence, along with my supervisor and my coworkers, to influence the provision of quality health care services is an awesome feeling at the end of the day. Every license we work on as a team and every phone call or email we review is from persons we do not know … but the blessing is listening closely and doing all I can to make sure he or she has an improved quality of life at the end of the day. My goal as a middle-aged person is to become a nurse, and even though I have been around a minute or two, I will complete that goal.
Brown enjoys working in health care and is the former president of the C.A.U.S.E. (Caring and Understanding Spiritual Educators) ministry at St. Cecilia, which currently focuses on health issues, particularly health disparity issues that exist within the African American community.
Job perks: State of Maryland benefits include flexible schedules, reduced child and health care costs, leave benefits, retirement benefits, and free mass transit benefits. To learn more, click here
See also:

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.