Joliet women win 2012 Spirit of Hampton award
By Jeanne Millsap For The Herald-News September 18, 2012 7:24PM
Carol Gilbert, Jean Keigher and Diane Kaiser, all from Joliet, were awarded the national 2012 Spirit of Hampton award this summer for their work as breakfast hostesses at the Joliet I-80 Hampton Inn. | submitted photo
Updated: October 20, 2012 6:02AM
JOLIET — The breakfast ladies at the Hampton Inn on Interstate 80 can’t begin to count how many eggs, waffles, omelets, Danish and cups of coffee they have prepared for their hungry guests over the years, but they do get the satisfaction of knowing they’ve filled many empty juice cups, empty tummies, and sometimes empty souls during that time.
Carol Gilbert, Diane Kaiser, and Jean Keigher, all of Joliet, were awarded the 2012 Spirit of Hampton award this summer for their hard work and gregarious personalities serving breakfasts for legions of families staying at the hotel for funerals, weddings, reunions, sporting events and vacations, business folks who come for extended stays for work, racing aficionados and more.
“These three have worked together for seven years,” night auditor Kathy Peterson said, “and they do an excellent job. They work so cohesively with each other, and they care about each other and our guests.”
“They really do deserve it,” assistant manager Heather Nelson said. “They’re all fantastic, and they work very well together. They are a major asset to the team.”
All three breakfast hostesses say arriving at work at 5:30 in the morning is not that bad. They love their jobs and getting to meet interesting people from all over the globe. The Hampton offers free hot breakfasts for its guests, and the hostesses prepare the menu items each morning, replenishing what Peterson has already set out before them.
“You try to anticipate their needs,” Gilbert said. “A lot of them are frequent visitors, and you get to know them and their families. Some of them you keep in touch with.”
Gilbert, originally from the East Coast, tries to put laughter in her guests’ mornings, as well. When someone asks where she is from, she tells them, then she says, “If you don’t root for the Patriots or Red Sox, you don’t get breakfast.”
That always gets a smile, she said.
Kaiser said she enjoys the hours, as she is a morning person. She was happy to receive the award.
“I was thrilled,” she said. “We do a lot of work truthfully. We are busy all the time.”
“It keeps you busy,” Keigher agreed. “I worked at a school for 34 years, and I like being around people. We have fun with the customers. They’re just like family. It’s easy to be ourselves.”