Kornberg facilities workers go ‘beyond the job’

Many facilities workers at the Kornberg School of Dentistry have worked there for several decades.

Geraldine Walker, a facilities worker, catalogs incoming packages at the Maurice H. Kornberg School of Dentistry mailroom on March 23. | VEENA PRAKRIYA / THE TEMPLE NEWS

On a typical workday, Margaro Ortiz works as a housekeeper in the Maurice H. Kornberg School of Dentistry. One day, he saw something abnormal on the job.

He was cleaning outside when he saw a patient get dropped off in the middle of the sidewalk. Noticing that she looked scared and in need of help, Ortiz said he immediately stopped what he was doing to help the patient into the building and find her a seat.

A few days later, Ortiz’s boss received a letter about his work performance. At first, he was worried he did something wrong.

“Then I saw that the person that sent the letter was like, ‘Oh, tell him thank you very, very much for going beyond your job,’” Ortiz said. “It made me feel good that somebody saw that I always go beyond my job.”

“Mike,” as his co-workers call him, has been working at Kornberg for 25 years and prides himself on his work as a housekeeper.

Several facilities workers have spent decades at Kornberg, including Ortiz, Geraldine Walker and Dot Johnson.

They perform duties like working in the mailroom, cleaning the dean’s suite and various offices and watering plants.

Walker grew up in North Philadelphia and began working at Temple at 20 years old. She has been working there for 27 years now, every Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Though she started at Temple working day shifts in residence halls on Main Campus, Walker transferred to Kornberg after nine years. She has stayed there ever since.

Margaro Ortiz (left), a facilities worker in the Maurice H. Kornberg School of Dentistry, visits Jackie Sautter, a laboratory technician, outside one of the lab spaces he is responsible for maintaining on March 23. | VEENA PRAKRIYA / THE TEMPLE NEWS

“They sent me up here to work, and I actually lived around the corner,” Walker said. “So when they told me I was coming up here, I was like, ‘Wow, this is close to my house!’”

“I haven’t had to travel that much, and I like it a lot here” she added. “So hopefully this can be the place I retire.”

Kornberg has stood out from Walker’s past jobs because it always keeps her busy, she said.

Unlike on Main Campus, where students passed by her as she worked in residence halls, Walker said she interacts with more students as they travel around the building to see patients.

One time, Walker even received dental work from a practicing student.

“He took the time to take me out of pain and everything, so I really had a real close, friendly doctor relationship with him,” Walker said. “When he graduated, I felt kind of sad.”

Walker has enjoyed the relationships she’s formed with Kornberg students.

“I just met a student that I made a great personal connection with, we always laugh and joke,” Walker said.

Like Walker, one of Ortiz’s favorite aspects of working at Kornberg is the personal connections he has made. He said he’s developed relationships with students, faculty and even the people he sees outside the building on a daily basis.

At Kornberg, Ortiz said employees are recognized for their efforts. This feeling of appreciation, Ortiz said, has motivated him to stay at the school for more than two decades.

“I like it because knowing the people and how you get treated and you know, everything that Kornberg gives you,” Ortiz said. “They give us appreciation lunches to tell the good work that we’ve done, and they give awards to people.”

Johnson has stayed at Kornberg even longer. Since starting her job as a 19-year-old in 1976, Johnson has spent her 42 years as a housekeeper working in the mailroom, delivering packages and taking care of the dean’s suite.

“My favorite part of the job is being able to help others,” Johnson said. “I like interacting with students and nice people.”

“At Kornberg I always got to be of service to the university and learn a lot of things and meet with the students,” Johnson added. “I help them as much as I can and make things work and make things happen.”

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