MORE AWAKENING THAN A DOUBLE SHOT OF ESPRESSO!
There was just something special about that Barista at Starbucks. She had a great smile; a caring way about her and a willingness to do whatever it took to make someone’s day. Too bad Starbucks! Phoenix got her!
Her name is Katie Rainford and she is the Human Resources Manager for Loveland and North Glenn, Colorado.
Katie worked at Starbucks for a year while finishing her degree in Psychology and Sociology at the University of Northern Colorado. And, upon graduation, she returned to Starbucks for two and a half years.
There was an opportunity to work in the health care field for Vitality Home Care in 2016. Her Mom, God mom, and sister were all nurses. She knew all about what life was like in the health care industry.
“I didn’t want to be in the medical field. I guess that’s why I went back to Starbucks after graduation. I have cystic fibrosis. As a young girl I was constantly in hospitals and clinics. I didn’t want to be around that environment every day.”
But Katie found something out about herself when she started working in the Home Care field. She loved helping people. And more than that – she loved helping put the right people in the right places to help people.
She had found a home with Vitality. Then roughly one year into the job there was this event called a “merger” and this company called Phoenix was taking over.
“They sat us in a conference room and announced the merger. We all had so many questions. Everyone was nervous. Everyone was blindsided and our owners were stepping out. But then I met these two people named Phil and Kimberly Melugin. Phil stood up and said, ‘Hey guys. We know this is a bit of a shock. We want this to be a pleasant experience. We want you to be a part of our team.’ We all felt like he really meant it. But we still had questions. Some felt like it might be too good to be true. But then they brought in Michelle and Sherry and Susan Knee. They showed us all the systems and were very supportive. I was so excited that there were real systems. I was thrilled with structure and processes. And, for the first time I had people I could ask questions to and learn from.”
Three days after the merger, Katie’s grandmother passed away. The funeral was in Columbia, Missouri. Katie saw a Phoenix sign on a building in Columbia and stopped in to see what it was all about. She just walked in and the world was warm and welcoming. She explained that she was a sister from Colorado and the Columbia team wrapped their arms around her. She was hooked.
Phil Melugin is a champion of Katie’s winning attitude, “While just with Phoenix a little over two years, I have found myself inspired by Katie’s refusal to allow CF to define her. Notwithstanding that the condition requires acute management at times, Katie has never used it to make excuses for not taking care of business. Loveland has added significant moving parts for HR to manage since we purchased it two years ago. Katie has consistently done whatever was needed to keep the Loveland HR plates spinning and to keep her branch growing.”
In the first month after the merger, there was a bit of turnover. Some people just don’t do change well. But Katie believed in the Melugins and their company. She began to rally others around the future.
“My extended family is from Columbia, Missouri, so I like those Missouri people.”
Katie is a people person. She considers herself to be in the relationship business. She loves meeting all the staff and getting to know them. She loves the interview process and really enjoys orientation.
Standing before an audience and sharing the Phoenix story is exciting for Katie. In her early years she was a spokesperson for cystic fibrosis. She did theatre with her church and school and was a rock star in the marching band, jazz band and concert band. Just ask her to pick up any of the five instruments she plays, and you will understand why!
She grew up two hours south of Loveland in Colorado Springs. Her parents are still there. She has one brother, one sister, a couple of extra siblings and a bunch of extended family…all very close. Oh! and Wagner the mutt is on the top of the food chain! Relationships matter.
“I hate it when people leave before they ever get the chance to know Phoenix. Turnover is my biggest frustration. I am always sad when someone leaves. They just don’t know Phoenix. I am sad they didn’t get excited about it.”
Alex Melugin knew Katie was a keeper from the start. “Katie was one of the team members we inherited from the previous owner. She was a rock of stability throughout that transition and was a sponge when it came to learning the Phoenix processes and ways of conducting an HR department. She became fully immersed with learning the Phoenix culture and has been a driving force in assimilating that culture into our Loveland and Denver markets. Like several other millennials within our company, Katie has an old school work ethic and will do whatever it takes to get a task completed the right way.”
“My history has allowed me to know what good care looks like and what professionalism is vs not. Never talk down to a client – they know themselves better than you. Explain everything. Why is so much more powerful than How. You get buy-in. Use them as an advocate with their own health.”
Katie looks at each day as a gift. It is her goal to be at her best every day. She has a motto:
“Try to brighten someone’s day. Be kind. Have a joke. Play a bit.”
Katie gains much strength from her husband, Demosthenes (Denni – “My Greek Hero!”)
He is a Colorado State University grad and a job coach for individuals with mental or physical disabilities. He helps people find their careers.
The two of them are changing the world for the better.