March 27, 2013

By Adrianne Eager

Martha Gareis accepted her top NJC staff award with the same comical, yet humble, approach that has made her a real favorite on campus.   

Martha Gareis accepted her top NJC staff award with the same comical, yet humble, approach that has made her a real favorite on campus.  (Courtesy Photo)

If you’re looking for comedy relief on the campus of Northeastern Junior College, the Mail and Document Center in Walker Hall  is one place to go for it. Amidst ringing phones, massive, whirring Xerox machines, several daily mail deliveries and endless publication processing, Martha Gareis has a smile on her face and a habit for making people laugh.

If you’re not there for the free stand-up, you might be there for the simple fact that this sunny corner suite in the administrative building is a hub of campus activity. “We process all the incoming and outgoing mail on a daily basis as well as logging in and sending out all campus freight for staff and students” said Martha. “Our department is also responsible for all copy work, print jobs, brochures, programs, and other publications across the campus.”

What that means in broad terms is that any time you see an athletic program at the Bank of Colorado Event Center on game night, any time an instructor needs 80 note packets made for an economics class, or any time a hall director needs 200 copies of a free movie night flyer to post across campus, it goes through Martha. Oh, and did we mention that it is her department, staffed by two, that  is the first line of contact as campus operator answering incoming calls and acting as switchboard to direct callers to the right departments?

The job in itself is more than a little daunting, considering most people’s natural aversion to copy machines given their finicky nature and ability to always jam up in high-pressure situations. Despite this, since July of 2009, Martha Gareis has been making the document center machines hum, facilitating the publication of thousands of documents, and making sure the mail comes in, is accounted for, and leaves campus on time. The work she does touches virtually every part of campus in one way or another.  Just a few weeks ago, she was recognized with the 2013 Northeastern Junior College Administrative Professional/Technical Employee of the Year Award for doing just that.  The award, now in its third year, asks the professional and technical employees on the campus to nominate deserving peers for this award. All employees in this classification are then able to vote for a name on the  nominee list and a winner is chosen.  Other winners have included Barbara Baker, Director of Marketing Services and Andy Long, Dean of Enrollment and Recruitment.

Having been on and off the Northeastern campus since 2000, Martha has had a role in more than a few places. From being the administrative assistant for the nursing department to being the facilities use coordinator in Hays Student Center, to helping Barbara Baker in the marketing department or Ronda Monheiser with AmeriCorps; if she hasn’t done it all , she has come pretty close.  This cross training she’s received over the years has made her invaluable.

When asked about her former assistant,  Ronda Monheiser doesn’t hesitate to throw out the accolades. “You couldn’t ask for a better colleague, Martha is top notch!, “ Monheiser said. “ For quite a while we would work in the evenings on AmeriCorps paperwork after our regular 9-5 jobs. It was great working with Martha! You knew  that if  Martha had anything to do with it, the end result was going to be done to perfection and finished on time. If she had a personal work motto it would have to be, ‘Any job, big or small, do it right or not at all.’ Monheiser shares. 

When nominating Gareis this year, it was Barbara Baker who wrote, “Martha Gareis is the ultimate team player.  Having worked in several areas of campus over the years, she is extremely familiar with the campus and how it operates. As director of the college’s document/mail center, she is well versed with who works where on campus. Combine these two assets and you have someone who can and will help in all areas.  Her professionalism is second to none. Her work ethic is an example for all of us. Martha comes in contact with people from all over the campus and the community on a daily basis, as well as interacting with hundreds of students each year. She treats everyone as a valued “customer” and takes care of them all with the utmost spirit of service to others.  Martha puts many hours in above and beyond the 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule—doing whatever is required to make sure the needs of others are always met.  Her work often goes unnoticed as her position is somewhat of a behind the scenes situation; however, what she does (mail and copying and overseeing main phone line) is critical to all areas and individuals on campus.”

Martha’s personal philosophy shows a definite reflection of that mindset, “My belief about work has always been you get out of it what you put into it,” she admits. “ If I spend my days helping others and going above and beyond, it usually comes back full circle.”

This month  Martha was honored at a luncheon in Denver with fellow winners from the other 12 colleges across the state that are also members of the Colorado Community College System.

Adrianne Eager is a sophomore student from Gunnison, CO. She works part-time in the college’s marketing office. She is pursuing a business degree, but is passionate about communications, especially social media.