Meet Nina Mayes, the first baker to ever work at Bon Secours St. Francis. She actually spent some time working in the hospital’s laundry room during her time as a student at Sterling High School before graduating and being hired on in the kitchen in 1961.
“I started baking in a brick-lined oven,” she recalls. “When we moved to the new hospital, I was amazed by the convection ovens in the kitchen – I’d never cooked in anything like that!”
The 79-year-old says she was trained on the job and never expected baking to become her passion, despite her father and grandmother both being professional cooks. Nina enjoys the challenge of creating as well as seeing people enjoy those creations, which provides all the feedback she needs.
While she did leave Bon Secours briefly for other jobs, Nina still spent the better part of nearly six decades in the kitchen. She credits the nuns with seeing her potential and providing the opportunity as well as her fellow employees, who she considers family, with keeping her around for so long.
“My foundation was at St. Francis and with the nuns, and I really enjoyed what I was doing,” she shares. “Nothing is perfect, but when someone taps into your passion, and you see that … I guess this is what I was meant to do. It must’ve been.”
Nina enjoyed it so much, she’s had nearly perfect attendance during her time with The Saint. She even remembers a time or two when she spent the night during winter weather to ensure she wouldn’t be kept from getting back into the kitchen on account of ice. In fact, despite being just a few months away from the age of 80, she says there are no plans for retirement in sight.
“Each day I get up, I’m a full-time employee. I have to be at work at 5:15 a.m. I get off at 1:30 p.m. I’ve never had a problem trying to make up my mind if I want to go into work or not.”
So, if you happen down to the Bon Secours St. Francis Downtown cafeteria, make sure to stop in and say hello. Nina may regale you with a story about the egg custard pie that almost made her cry, or her ever-popular angel biscuits. If you’re lucky, you might even get to try one of her tasty creations.
Learn about the health care services we offer at Bon Secours.
Also, read more stories celebrating our team members during Women’s History Month