November 26, 2014
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Mary celebrates her hospital job & 99th birthday
Kim Kalunian
A CELEBRATION: Friends and Kent Hospital employees threw Mary Poncin, center, a surprise 99th birthday party yesterday. Poncin is joined by (clockwise from left) friend Joan Amitrano; Senior VP of Human Resources David Campbell; President and CEO of Kent Sandra Coletta and friend Evelyn Sadlier.

In 2011, Mary Poncin was the 98-year-old woman who didn’t want to retire but couldn’t find a job. Now, Poncin’s a 99-year-old woman with a job she loves.

In the spring of 2011, the Beacon interviewed Poncin, who, after being laid-off from her job at Sam’s Club, was actively looking for work. She struggled to get hired at local coffee shops and eateries, and was frustrated that she couldn’t put her energy and skills to good use.

But that all changed when David Campbell, senior vice president of human resources at Kent Hospital, saw a story about Poncin in the Beacon. Campbell called her in for an interview, and hired her on the spot to be the hospital’s official greeter.

Evelyn Sadlier, a longtime friend of Poncin’s, said she took the then 98-year-old to the interview.

“As soon as they talked to her, they said, ‘you’re hired,’” recounted Sadlier.

Campbell said since Poncin started work at the hospital on May 2, 2011, she hasn’t missed a single shift – except for one stormy day when they told her to stay home.

Today, Poncin can be seen greeting those entering through Kent’s main entrance every weekday from 8:30 a.m. to noon.

“I love it,” said Poncin of her job.

Yesterday, old friends like Sadlier and new friends like Campbell gathered at Kent to throw Poncin a surprise 99 birthday party. There were balloons, flowers and, of course, a cake: chocolate with white frosting and bright pink roses.

Sandra Coletta, president and CEO of Kent Hospital, busily passed out pieces of the cake to those gathered in the vestibule.

“She’s motivating no matter what you’re dealing with,” said Coletta of Poncin. Colletta said she introduced her own mother to Poncin, pointing out that even at 99, she’s still so full of energy and has a zest for life.

“She looks great. She feels great,” said Sadlier. “She said it’s the best job she ever had.”

When Sam’s Club closed in early 2011, hundreds of people were left jobless. Now, Poncin’s former employer will soon be re-opening, but it’s not likely she’ll be leaving Kent.

Campbell said he asked Poncin if she planned to head back to Sam’s: “She said, ‘not a chance,’” laughed Campbell. It was an answer that made him, and the rest of the people at Kent, very happy.


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