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As we enter the winter months, we arrive at the one-year anniversary of the Mr. George Gold Coin award. Over the past year, we’ve taken pride in delivering stories to our readers about our exceptional associates and this month is no different. In fact, we’re ending the year with one of the most phenomenal stories we’ve received this year. If you’re unfamiliar with the award and perhaps this is your first time reading a Gold Coin story, you can find more stories from the past year here.

12_Post_1_MJL_GoldCoin_PhotoBody_1This month, we had the opportunity to speak with our newest Gold Coin recipient, Lillian Cook from West Palm Beach, Florida. Lillian is celebrating her 33rd year with Publix. She’s had a long and storied career with the company, and tells us that her favorite thing about Publix is the opportunity to remain close with other associates, even with the tremendous growth the company has experienced. She told us, “We take care of one another and have each other’s best interests at heart.” Her favorite part about her current position as District Manager is watching associates grow, develop, and become leaders in their store and their communities.

Joining the Publix family in 1984, Lillian worked as a part-time cashier while also working part time at a local TV news station. After a while of doing both, it became clear that only one could continue, and Lillian had to choose between Publix or television. Luckily, she chose Publix and worked her way up to being a district manager in charge of ten stores. Coworkers often describe her as being very compassionate, hands-on and detail-oriented while always striving to build an exceptional team. When Lillian isn’t working, her favorite activities include vacationing with her family and spending the weekends boating.

The Story

It was a Sunday morning and Lillian and her husband Don just returned home from church. The plan for the day was similar to their usual Sunday routine: mow the lawn, do some housework, and if the weather agreed, take the boat out for a few hours. Plans were made and Don was filling the lawnmower with gas when the phone rang. On the other end was a store manager from Lillian’s district. The manager was calling to tell Lillian that an associate’s parent’s house burned down the previous day. The daughter was out of town and could not go check on her parents. Lillian and Don have known the family from their work at non-profit centers for children in the community and volunteer work at their church. She described them as “very giving people.”

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Their Sunday plans were immediately put on hold. Lillian shared, “We went to her parent’s house and when we got there, they were sitting in front of the house on a bench that didn’t have damage. It was very heart-wrenching to see and the house looked like a scene out of a movie, I couldn’t believe my eyes.” Lillian told us, “the police and fire departments had already left but the news stations were still there.”

Upon their arrival, Lillian and her husband began to help as if the couple were their own family. Lillian went to Publix and got dinner, beverages and overnight necessities. That evening, the parents and Lillian had a picnic in the yard under an umbrella. During this time, Don stayed on the phone to help with the insurance company, taking measurements of doors and windows to get boards to secure the house for the night.

After making sure the family had a place to stay that night, Lillian and Don went home and packed two suitcases of clothes and shoes. She also called another friend to get clothes, and brought them to where they were staying that night. The family was going to need new furniture, so Lillian reached out to United Way for help. Lillian told us, “I had a bed set I was getting ready to change over in my house for my son, a friend had another bedroom set and I was able to purchase a brand new couch and loveseat for a steal. Things fell right into place and we were able to store the furniture until they found a place to live.” During this whole time, Lillian gave frequent updates to the daughter of the family and reassured her that her family was safe and taken care of.

After receiving the Gold Coin, Lillian said she was very humbled that she was able to share this award with her husband. Lillian told us, “I strive to always do the right thing and to take care of people. I give back as often as I can and know that giving back is part of Mr. George’s legacy.”

 

Have you ever witnessed an associate going above and beyond at your local Publix? Share your story with us on Facebook or Twitter, via our Contact Us page or by phone at (800) 242-1227. To read the stories of other recipients of the Mr. George Gold Coin, check them out here.

Matthew L.

Written by

Matthew L. started with Publix in 2009. After working his way up to a Publix Manager, Matthew decided to make a change from retail and pursue his passion for writing. Matthew enjoys hearing stories from the people he's writing about and loves the Publix culture. Outside of work, Matthew enjoys spending time with his wife and their dog, Edmund. They love to explore all that Central Florida has to offer.

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