Recognition is a dish best served ... to Vernon Lee
Employee of the Year from DFW Hospital Council
For nearly 30 years, Vernon Lee has lived to serve others.
Lee has been a catering aid for Cook Children’s and is known as much for being the consummate pro as he is for his caring, compassionate nature for his customers, coworkers and patients. He is deeply spiritual and takes great pride in his work and has been a vital piece of the catering staff at Cook Children’s since his arrival.
It only makes sense that he would be in the service industry because Lee lives to serve others in any way he possibly can.
And his efforts have not gone unnoticed.
His presence is not lost on those on his immediate and surrounding teams. Executive Chef and Manager JoAnn Williams sums up his value, “It would be so much easier if I had 100 Vernons.”
But there is only one Vernon Lee.
When Williams began working at Cook Children’s 15 years ago, there were only two people working in catering – Lee and her. She said they made an instant connection that remains to this day. He’s always there for not only her, but everyone who needs him.
Lee is known for amazing memory. He knows the schedule and calendar, it seems, of every event happening at Cook Children’s. The catering service has been called by various departments through the years panicked, saying they forgot to call in an order for an event. But they had no need to fear because Lee remembered it and had already scheduled the order. Lee always pitches in where he’s needed. If it’s a slow catering day, he finds somewhere else that needs help without ever being asked.
During his time at Cook Children’s, Lee has built many wonderful relationships. Many people come to him and they ask him to pray for them because they know he’s deeply spiritual. Those who don’t have the same spiritual connection still love Lee and the way he approaches life. He is known for being genuine and consistently nice and gracious. He’s the person who remembers everything from boss’s day to anniversaries and birthdays. He gives everything of himself without complains. He wants to make sure everyone is having a great day.
Lee may work in catering, but he’s also a caregiver. He is there for staff when they need someone the most. He’s also there for his family and friends. He’s not pretentious and doesn’t want attention and praise heaped on him. But it’s that attitude and example that he sets, that makes him stand out from others. In 2015, Lee was announced as the recipient of the Employee of the Year Award for the DFW Hospital Council in the category of hospitals with 205-499 beds.
Lee said he prepared a speech the night before the ceremony, but never removed it from his pocket. Instead, he spoke from his heart on how grateful he was to be nominated and thankful to everyone who made it possible, including Nancy Cychol, the president of Cook Children's Medical Center, who nominated Lee for the award.
"I'm just a piece of the puzzle in fulfilling The Promise of Cook Children's of knowing every child's life is sacred," Lee said. "I had gotten over the shock of me being nominated and was pretty content just being there as nominee. For them to call my name and say I was a winner I was pretty surprised. I was shocked."
Lee was the only one surprised. Everyone at Cook Children's knew he deserved this special recognition.