If you were to ask Sanford Health athletic trainer Alexandria Sand who the Sanford Support Services Employee of The Year should be, only one name would come to mind: Linda Christopherson.
“Linda comes to work with a positive attitude no matter what she may be carrying in her personal life,” Sand wrote about Christopherson in an Employee of The Year 2020 nomination form.
Christopherson is a secretary at Sanford Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Bemidji, Minnesota. She says her role provides her the opportunity to do one of her favorite things: help people.
“When you start telling people there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, you see a sense of release in their face. That’s what I’m here for,” she said.
She’s experienced that feeling often, because she sees many patients on some of their toughest days.
Not only patients, but also her co-workers. She says the tight-knit support she and her co-workers offer one another makes each day she comes to work special.
“When you work in orthopedics, you’re like a big family because we probably see each other more than our families. I don’t come to work in the morning dreading work. The comrade is good, and the atmosphere is good,” said Christopherson.
Sand describes Christopherson as “the glue that holds our department together.”
“She treats her co-workers like they are her own family, and would do anything for us without second guessing. Her smile is infectious and she has a gift of touching the hearts of others,” said Sand.
‘Linda’s absence was felt’
Earlier this year, Christopherson was diagnosed with COVID-19. She had to spend weeks away from the job, creating a large void that was felt by her peers.
“Her absence was felt throughout the department from the provider level to the reception level. Linda is really the heart of our department. She brings so much enthusiasm and knowledge to our department, that it is absolutely noticeable when she is not around,” said Sand.
Sand continues by saying Christopherson is the organizer of the “sunshine committee.” The committee organizes staff outings and events. Linda has taken an active role in the committee, finding different ways to brighten the days.
“You can always count on Linda to brighten your day, bring a smile to your face, and provide much laughter.”
A big surprise
As Sand explained, Christopherson has a history of brightening everyone’s day.
Now, it was time for Christopherson’s day to be brightened.
The day that Christopherson was given the award, she thought it was just another Friday meeting. She says she walked upstairs to where the meeting was, not knowing anything about it, pen and paper in hand.
“I’m a note taker, ya know?”
However, when she got to meeting, she quickly learned the meeting was all about her. She was so shocked, it would’ve been impossible to write down anything.
“I opened the door, and there was all my sisters, my children, my husband was there, all my grandkids were there, and Sanford Health executives were there. I literally stopped dead in my tracks.”
Sand and other co-workers had organized the surprise ceremony for Christopherson because after she’s made them smile so many times, they wanted to return the favor.
“She takes to heart the thought of making every interaction with others a positive one, no matter how small or short of an encounter that it may be.”
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