CEDAR LAKE | Jessie Majka, a dishwasher at Hilton Garden Inn Chesterton, is known for going above and beyond for which his job entails. Whether it’s taking a drain apart to find a guest’s lost contact lens, retrieving another guest’s valuable receipt mistakenly put in a trash bin or shoveling snow from walkways — it’s how he was brought up in life.
“It’s pretty much the way my mom raised me — to do the best I can for other people because I’d want that the same in return,” Majka said.
Majka doesn’t expect recognition but he got it Wednesday night, along with 11 others honored for exemplary service during the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority’s annual ROSE Awards Dinner at the Lighthouse Restaurant.
“I still feel like I didn’t do anything special,” Majka said. “I’m happy someone looked at me for this.”
More than 100 nominations for the annual recognition of service excellence awards were received by the ROSE selection committee this year. The exceptional front-line employees were whittled down to 34 finalists and then to 12 winners, or “a dozen roses,” including Majka.
“It’s a great honor,” said Speros Batistatos, president and CEO of the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority. “We’re so accustomed to bad service that to think about what it takes to stand out in a customer’s mind and be nominated is huge.
“These are the people put out there and entrusted with being the directors of first impressions and we’re humbled to be able to serve with them and our industry relies on them every day.”
One of the 12 winners was Kristen Snow, a deli attendant at Strack & Van Til in Highland. Snow on several occasions delivered food to a cancer patient after work.
“You never expect to be recognized for what you do,” Snow said.
The finalists were also treated to a pre-event red carpet “day of pampering” at State of Mind Salon and Day Spa in Crown Point. Owner Pattie Kobe said her employees enjoyed taking care of them.
“They sometimes get overlooked,” she said. “This is a huge deal and we’re honored to be a part of it.
The event was co-hosted by Marci Crozier, regional director of marketing and sales for Franciscan Omni Health and Fitness and participant in NBC’s “The Biggest Loser.”
“I believe serving others is really what makes us happy,” Crozier said. “The front-line people in the service industry are the heartbeat of the organization. They can make or break us.”
Along with Majka and Snow, winners included: Steve Byrns, Country Inn & Suites; Jacqueline Evans-Davis, Majestic Star Casino; Marlene Nosbusch, Bistro 157; Judy Lowery, Hammond Port Authority; Alberto Martinez, Lucrezia Ristorante; Roderick Moton, Terria Hill, Majestic Star Casino; Horseshoe Casino; Marissa Ortega, Standard Bank & Trust; Regina Portugal, Hilton Garden Inn Chesterton; and Lisa Sheridan, Hilton Garden Inn Chesterton.