For Offutt Exchange Store Manager Patti Griffin, customers are family. Just ask Whanja Crockrum.
Crockrum, former Army chaplain assistant and Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom Veteran, was exhausted from caring for her critically ill mother in Nebraska and needed to buy a larger piece of luggage to get belongings home to Tennessee.
But, she wasn’t going to make it to the Exchange before it closed.
Over the phone, Crockrum explained her plight to Griffin, who kept the store open for her. When Crockrum pulled up to the store, nearly 30 minutes after closing time, Griffin greeted her and made sure she found the luggage she needed.
Thoughtfulness, a profound impression
Before finalizing the purchase, Griffin, a 26-year Exchange associate, insisted that her worn-out shopper pick up any other needed items.
Hesitantly, Crockrum took Griffin up on the offer, buying work gear for her husband, a gift for her best friend who had driven her to Offutt and lotion for herself.
Griffin’s thoughtfulness made a profound impression.
Deeply moved, Crockrum, on a customer service card, raved that the service she received was “nothing short of a miracle because nobody does anything like this anymore in this cruel and cold world we live in. Patti’s act of kindness made me feel special and valued in ways I may never be able to describe.
“I told her she was a God-sent angel to me that night and I will never forget her or her act of kindness to me.”
‘An exceptional and caring heart’
Griffin’s empathetic efforts caught the attention of Central Region Senior Vice President Marla Smith.
Smith was so touched that, at a managers meeting last month, she honored Griffin for showing such extreme compassion. Smith also provided her with a token of appreciation (an Exchange gift card) in front of her team.
“We’re here to serve the men and women who serve our country, and also their families. Going the extra mile for them is not a bother. It’s an honor.”
-Patti Griffin, Offutt AFB Exchange store manager
What started as standard recognition turned into a heartfelt moment that brought tears to the eyes of most everyone in attendance as Crockrum’s full comment was read aloud.
“Patti Griffin has an exceptional and caring heart to serve her customers,” Smith said. “It was evident in how she went above and beyond with this particular individual. But, she consistently goes out of her way to help Warfighters and their families, just like she would if they were her parents or her children.”
Griffin brings down-to-earth, but powerful principles into her leadership role.
“We’re here to serve the men and women who serve our country, and also their families,” Griffin said. “Going the extra mile for them is not a bother. It’s an honor.”