‘It’s a Christmas miracle’
ServiCom staff eager to get back to work under new ownership
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.
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.