Surprise of a lifetime: Westminster Village dedicates diner to employee

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Paula Carpenter received the surprise of a lifetime on March 5. The 65-year-old has been an employee of Westminster Village North for 45 years this September, and the assisted-living facility recognized her commitment in a touching way.

Carpenter began her career with Westminster Village North while she was in high school. A special needs student at Lawrence Central, she would wash dishes through the school’s work-study program. Through the years, Carpenter has advanced through many different job titles including a stint in the dietary department to where she is now, serving breakfast to the residents and serving the employees in their breakroom.

To commemorate Carpenter’s service, Westminster Village North dedicated the employee breakroom to her, renaming it as “Paula’s Diner.”

“She considers all these people her family, all these women and men that work in here, all the employees, they just watch after her,” said Linda Grube, Carpenter’s older sister. “One said if she notices something is not right with Paula, she goes and checks on her to make sure everything is okay. They just take care of her. She just loves it here.”

Grube said her sister doesn’t want to retire until she’s 70. Carpenter takes a public bus every day from her apartment in North Keystone to and from Westminster Village North, 11050 Presbyterian Dr., just south of Geist.

Grube said her sister connects with the residents and the employees through her job at Westminster Village North.

“She knows what the different residents like to eat, what cereal they like,” Grube said. “She knows who wants three strips of bacon, and they love her. She’s very caring to older people. That’s why she’s just so wonderful in this position.”

Carpenter said she was very surprised when she saw what the organization and what her sister had planned for her. Family members from Fort Wayne, Indianapolis and Michigan attended the ceremony. Relatives and employees lined the hall to surprise her when she turned the corner to the breakroom. Carpenter said what she’s enjoyed best through her time working with Westminster Village North is her growth through each position.

“I like it and I’ve done everything,” she said. “I have done salads, I’ve been in the dish room, I’ve done cooking. Everybody is nice and helps you.”

Carpenter is Westminster Village North’s longest employee currently working there. Director of Culinary Services Dan Armantrout said the company wanted to honor her tenure.

“We wanted to honor her 45 years of service, and somebody, another coworker, came up with the idea a year or so ago about renaming the breakroom ‘Paula’s Diner,’” Armantrout said. “I immediately liked the idea and went to my boss and she liked the idea.”

Armantrout said the plan took longer than originally thought, but last month it was complete when Westminster Village North established a canopy and a sign at the entrance of the breakroom.

Paula Carpenter’s assets to Westminster Village North

Director of Culinary Services Dan Armantrout describes Paula Carpenter as a good employee, highlighting her dependability as one of her strongest assets. She rides a bus nearly everyday to work and only misses if the bus has problems and cancels her trip.

“She is very familiar with the residents and knows their likes and dislikes, same with the employees that eat in here,” Armantrout said. “She knows what most like and what they’re going to order before they order it.”

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