Though she has 15 grandchildren of her own, Laverne Pharham, who works the register at MoCon on the weekends, considers all the students who dine in MoCon her grandkids.
“They treat me nice and I love every last one of them,” Pharham, who is known fondly by many students as “Grandma,” said. “They’re my babies.”
Many students feel that Pharnham’s presence brings a certain warmth to MoCon.
“I think she makes MoCon more of a personal experience,” said Alexandra Provo ’10. “She makes an effort to ask you a question each time you see her.”
Many students have forged a personal relationship with Pharham.
“She’s always so friendly and she makes me look forward to the weekends at MoCon,” Sam Curtis ’10 said. “I get a hug from her almost every time I give her my [WesCard].”
Over a year ago, David Knappenberger ’07 created a Facebook group honoring Pharham. Though he does not dine at MoCon anymore, Knappenberger recalls Pharham’s unique personality.
“At other eating places on campus, there’s not a lot of personal involvement with the staff,” he said. “She’s always smiling and happy. I don’t really get a chance to see her any more, which is a shame.”
Pharham has been working for the University for three years. She heard about the job through her daughter, who has worked as an assistant chef in Summerfields for over 20 years.
“My daughter called me up and said, ‘Mom, you want to make a little extra money?’ and I said, ‘Sure,’” Pharham said.
Before coming to the University, Pharham worked in electronics. When the company moved out of state, instead of searching for a new job, Pharham decided to retire.
“I enjoy every moment of retired life because I have time to do what I want to do,” she said.
Even though she is working a few hours each week, Pharham still considers herself retired. She thinks of her job at MoCon as on-the-side work.
Though the job means taking time away from her family on the weekends, Pharham has no regrets about her decision to take the position.
“I love [this job] because I love these kids,” she said. “I love these kids. I love my co-workers. I just love people in general.”
Her love for her work shows.
“There was this one time when a group of us were coming through the line at MoCon and she decided to give us all hugs and told us that giving and receiving hugs was very important,” Kristin May ’10 said.
In her spare time, Pharham enjoys listening to books on tape, especially children’s books. She also loves spending time with her children and grandchildren, most of whom live in the area.
“Our family is really big and we just run into each other,” Pharham said. “If I’m at one of my daughters’ houses, I run into another daughter while I’m there.”
Pharham has one grandchild in Florida, who she plans to visit in the near future. Her husband has never been to Disneyland, so Pharham is hoping to squeeze a trip to the theme park into the vacation.
Family has always been an important part of Pharham’s life. Over the years, Pharham has come to realize that many things, especially family, are more important than possessions.
“I don’t have a glamorous life,” Pharham said. “The less you accumulate materially, the happier you are.”
She attributes many of these life lessons to wisdom she learned from her mother. These values have shaped her attitudes in life and at work.
“Whatever you dish out to the world, you get back,” she said. “If you’re hateful, that’s what you get back.”