‘It’s a Christ­mas mir­a­cle’

ServiCom staff ea­ger to get back to work un­der new own­er­ship

Annapolis Valley Register - - REGIONAL - BY GREG MC­NEIL SALTWIRE NET­WORK SYD­NEY, N.S. greg.mc­[email protected]­post.com

The range of emo­tions for ServiCom em­ploy­ees has shifted from sad­ness to ela­tion in the wake of news the shut­tered call cen­tre will soon re-open un­der a new name.

About 600 em­ploy­ees will soon be back to work at the newly named Syd­ney Call Cen­tre Inc. af­ter Iowabased Marlowe Com­pa­nies Inc. (MCI) won a bid­ding war for the com­pany last week.

“It’s a Christ­mas mir­a­cle,” said Wayne Sharpe, a call cen­tre em­ployee.

“It’s the best Christ­mas mir­a­cle a per­son can ask for.”

Sharpe and oth­ers were found at the Sal­va­tion Army head­quar­ters in Syd­ney Wednes­day morn­ing where more than $45,000 in cash and inkind do­na­tions from Sobeys and other or­ga­ni­za­tions was dis­trib­uted to for­mer ServiCom em­ploy­ees.

His hope, and that of oth­ers, was for many more years of em­ploy­ment un­der the new owner.

“I’ve been ready since yes­ter­day and I can’t wait to go back,” said Ge­orgina Stu­art.

“I’m a fam­ily of ServiCom, they are fam­ily mem­bers to me. I love my job but I love the fam­ily at­mos­phere that we’ve had there and thank God for what is go­ing on to­day and God bless ev­ery­body and Merry, Merry, Merry Christ­mas to all of you guys.”

ServiCom’s par­ent com­pany, New Jersey-based JNET Com­mu­ni­ca­tions LLC, filed for Chap­ter 11 bank­ruptcy pro­tec­tion on Oct. 19. It ceased all op­er­a­tions at its call cen­tres in Syd­ney and Mach­es­ney Park, Ill. on Dec. 6.

“Ev­ery­body has been go­ing through a lit­tle bit of a rough time for the last lit­tle while, es­pe­cially try­ing to hold on and all the bills and ev­ery­thing,” said Crys­tal Waye. “It’s just fan­tas­tic that we have hope and work in the fu­ture.”

Stress­ful was the word Cathy Har­ris used to de­scribe the time spent from the day the call cen­tre closed un­til late last Tues­day night when news of new buyer sur­faced.

“There were days when you didn’t want to get up out of bed but af­ter work­ing for 19 years at the same place you have that same rou­tine where you just need to get up ev­ery day and keep go­ing,” she said.

“We were all ba­si­cally ev­ery day get­ting to­gether for cof­fee or chat­ting on Face­book, wait­ing for some­thing to hap­pen, and so it fi­nally did.”

The lat­est show of sup­port came on Wednes­day when more than $47,000 in cash and in-kind do­na­tions was dis­trib­uted.

The do­na­tion started through an in­ter­nal Sobeys pro­gram known as “ran­dom acts of kind­ness” that asked cor­po­rate of­fice em­ploy­ees in Stel­lar­ton to dis­trib­ute $25 gift cards to the com­mu­nity.

In­stead, they chose to send the money to Syd­ney.

Word of the mouth spread to Sobeys em­ploy­ees around At­lantic Canada who added ad­di­tional gift cards, and per­sonal do­na­tions, to help the fund bal­loon past $6,000.

Store man­agers also jumped on board to in­clude full tur­key din­ners for all ServiCom staff.

“I think any­time any­body does lose their job it’s a big deal but around Christ­mas time it just touches that much close to home,” said Daniel Lowther, dis­trict op­er­a­tor for Sobeys Cape Bre­ton re­gion.

“We are fam­i­lies kind of nur­tur­ing fam­i­lies. It felt like the right thing to do. I have lit­tle kids, I have a fam­ily, I know what it is like.”

A fur­ther $15,000 worth of Sobeys gift cards was pur­chased and added to the pot by Nova Sco­tia Power, Law­tons stores con­trib­uted $6,000 in gift cards, and Canada Bread and Mom’s Bak­ery also pitched in to help the ServiCom em­ploy­ees get through the hol­i­day sea­son.

Though no date has been firmly set, the call cen­tre could open by Jan. 2.

GREG MC­NEIL/SALTWIRE NET­WORK

Daniel Lowther, dis­trict op­er­a­tor for Sobeys Cape Bre­ton re­gion, left, dis­plays a por­tion of the Christ­mas din­ner for­mer ServiCom em­ploy­ees re­ceived last week at the Sal­va­tion Army of­fices in Syd­ney. Sobeys em­ploy­ees put the do­na­tion to­gether through an in­ter­nal ‘ran­dom acts of kind­ness’ that grew and grew.

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