Mary Poncin’s story first graced the pages of the Beacon in April. Poncin, like many people, was looking for a job. But the unusual part of her story was her age: 97.
Poncin’s job search caught the eye of David Campbell, senior vice president of human resources at Kent Hospital, who hired Poncin as Kent’s greeter. But what appeared to be a happy ending to Poncin’s story turned out to be just the beginning.
Poncin’s unique story caught the eye of the Providence Journal; Rhode Island’s National Public Radio; WPRO’s John DePietro; three major news stations: Channel 10, 11 and 12; and the Boston Herald. That was just on a local level.
Nationally, her tale was picked up by the Associated Press and CNN, and just like that, the entire country learned of Poncin’s name, face and story.
“I can’t believe it,” said Poncin simply, adding she never expected to get all of the attention she has. And according to Poncin, the fire of her new found fame hasn’t burned out yet.
“Every day it’s still going on,” she said, though she doesn’t mind. “I love the job and the people, they’re all so nice. I can’t express it.”
Poncin works Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to noon. She drives herself to her job, and once there, makes sure that anyone who walks through Kent’s doors is warmly welcomed. She gives people directions, answers their questions and sends them off with a smile.
Because of the national attention she’s received, Poncin has become a popular attraction at Kent.
“I get hugs and kisses from people I don’t even know,” she said, laughing. “People come in and compliment my hair. It’s been great. It’s more than I ever would have dreamt of.”
Poncin said she’s been getting fan mail, too.
“I got a card from Alabama. They said they saw me on TV. I’ve gotten cards from Rhode Island, some came to Kent and two came to my house. I don’t know who these people are, they’re just calling to congratulate me,” she said.
Poncin said that between 10 and 25 people approach her daily to commend her on her accomplishment, saying they can’t believe a 97-year-old woman is working like she is.
“I think all of this is wonderful. I never would have thought all of this could happen from that one article [in the Beacon],” she said.
Poncin said she’s not sure how much longer all of her fame will continue, but there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight at the moment.
“It goes on and on, I never know when it’ll end,” she said.
Despite all of the attention and constant recognition, Poncin is thankful for her job and for her fame.
“In my 97 years, I never thought a day like this would ever happen,” she said. “I don’t know how to thank everyone.”