Organizing mail and packages and making copies are some of the many tasks Becky Potter and Kelly Garrison do every day. But, there is much more to these women than what students and faculty see through the mailroom window inside Constant Hall.
Becky Potter has lived in Wellsville, Kan. since she was in second grade. With an estimated population of around 1,000 people, Wellsville is a small, tight-knit community. Potter drives just 12 minutes from her home to get to work every day.
She has been married for 33 years, going on 34 soon. She and her husband love sports, especially Baker athletics. They go to Baker sporting events together regularly. Not only do they attend home games, but they also travel to away games to watch and support. Basketball is a special sport for Potter because her grandson plays.
Family makes Potter happy, but she also finds joy in other people’s happiness. Spending countless hours on baking goodies for Baker teams is one of the many kind acts she performs. She will bake different types of desserts, like cookies and bars, in bulk for student-athletes, and she will send them on their away game trips with these goodies.
“I like to do it just for the love of it. I love seeing students get excited,” Potter said.
Once a year, Potter and her sisters go to the store and buy a trunk full of groceries for one of SAC’s Grocery Bingo. Being the creative person she is, Potter also enjoys taking photos of family, making quilts, sewing onto bags and pillows and crafting.
Within her eight years working at Baker, Potter has developed deep relationships. “The students are my favorite part of my work here, by far,” Potter said.
Students have taken to her warm personality and become very close to her. Senior Charles Fisher transferred to Baker his junior year. The two were complete strangers, but one day he strolled down to the mailroom to retrieve his package where he was met with a kind greeting from Potter.
“She [Potter] did not even know me, but I felt so much positive energy and love from her. She made it feel like we had known each other for the longest [time],” Fisher said.
“The students are my favorite part of my work here, by far.”
From then on, every trip Fisher takes to the mailroom results in a conversation with Potter. Afterward, she sometimes will send him on his way with homemade desserts. Potter has also supported Fisher at his basketball games, even to the point in which he asked her to walk out with him for his senior night ceremony because his mother could not be there. The ceremony took place at the men’s basketball game on Feb. 22.
“Becky isn’t just a fan of the men’s basketball program, she’s a fan of all sports here at Baker,” Fisher said. “She’s the type of person who you would want to be around. I’m glad we are close, and I wish nothing but the best for her.”
Kelly Garrison will reach her 23rd anniversary of working at Baker on Mar. 3 this year. Garrison’s favorite aspect of Baker is the students. Listening to and engaging with them is very special to her.
“The students really keep us young and alive. When students get a package or something special, I love seeing them get so excited about things,” Garrison said. “We’ll talk to them and listen, it’s just fun.”
Family is another aspect of Garrison’s life that brings her happiness. She and her husband have always done a lot of gardening. Though they have scaled it down since their kids moved out of the house, it is still prevalent in their lives. Garrison used to have a huge garden in which she canned much of the produce. One year she had 97 quarts of nothing but green beans.
Now they grow tomatoes, zucchinis and more to make salsa and other foods. If they grow more than they need, they always give produce away to others for free rather than selling it or throwing it out.
While Potter makes desserts, Garrison cooks more of the starchy, fatty types of delectables. Every year she looks forward to attending an old fashioned fair in a small community up the road called Vinland. The event consists of a range of homemade foods. Many people around the community make homemade pies for the fair, but Garrison usually brings her family favorites. She makes about 20 or 30 pounds of potato salad for the event and uses her favorite recipe from her mom for homemade chicken and noodles.
“I cannot pinpoint it, but there is just something special at Baker. It’s a family atmosphere and a home away from home,” Garrison said.
Garrison grew up in the Kansas City area. Outside of work, she spends time with her husband daily. She and her husband have an Australian shepherd named Bailey. She has two adult children: a daughter who is now a special education teacher in Eudora and a son who owns his own business in Baldwin City called Garrison Concrete. Getting to spoil her two grandchildren is something that brings her much joy, and family is incredibly important to her.
“It’s a family atmosphere and a home away from home.”
Even bigger than family, though, is her love for God. From a young age, Garrison’s family had always gone to church on Sunday mornings, Sunday evenings and Wednesday nights.
“I did, as I think a lot of teenagers or young adults, pull away for a while when I was young. That ‘having to find it for yourself’ experience eventually brought me back,” Garrison said. “That experience shaped me into who I am now and gave me the values I have. My spirituality is so important to me.”
Junior Barry Baker is one of three student workers that help out in the mail/copy center. His role is to give students mail and packages, send out letters for Amazon returns, sort out faculty mail and run print jobs.
“Kelly Garrison is a wonderful human. She is hardworking and determined, but is able to have fun at the same time,” Baker said. She is kind of like a second mom to me, making sure I am on top of school work and my health. I also won’t lie, I like the gifts she gives for all the holidays.”
Besides occasional help from the student workers, Potter and Garrison do a great deal of work on their own, including sorting and distributing all mail, tackling hectic Mondays, answering university phone calls and more. These two peas in a pod are loved and appreciated at Baker.
“This is really the cornerstone of the university. All the mail comes through here for all the students, faculty, staff, everybody,” Garrison said. “We love what we do, and we love who we do it for.”