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ANAHEIM : Recovering Worker Receives Gift of Time

Before Candice Walker underwent intestinal surgery recently, the 29-year-old city employee was showered with get-well wishes, cards and flowers from her City Hall co-workers.

But this week, Walker also got something very unusual from her colleagues--their vacation time.

To help defray $4,000 in medical costs, more than 60 city employees donated about 350 hours of vacation time directly to Walker. The donations, which are still coming in, will amount to an estimated $3,500 for Walker, who is recuperating in her Anaheim home.

“It really feels great,” said Walker, who works in the city’s print shop assembling agendas and brochures. “I didn’t have enough money to cover (the operation). It shows that a lot of employees care about me.”

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Walker is one of a handful of city employees who have benefited under the voluntary city program. Last year, employees rallied to donate $11,000 worth of vacation time to a part-time recreation worker who lost a limb.

The city, which has about 2,000 workers, approved the voluntary program about three years ago to aid seriously ill or injured city employees, officials said.

About five city employees have received similar vacation time contributions, including one worker with a serious lung disease who got $24,000.

“It’s so much better than passing the hat,” said Sharon Ericson, president of the Anaheim Municipal Employees Assn. “You just donate your hourly wage. That’s why I always try to get management to donate because their rate is so high.”

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For Walker, the donations are a case of “what goes around, comes around.”

Walker, who has been with the city for seven years, has given away some 80 hours of her vacation time to four other city employees in need.

“I’ve always thought this was a good program,” Walker said. “It shows people care.”

Walker said she will probably return to her office duties after Labor Day. Her return is welcome news to her co-workers.

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“Candy keeps the city moving,” said Marilyn Hauk, also with the Anaheim Municipal Employees Assn.


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