Sometimes, the right job can lead us to discover new things about ourselves. It can open doors not just to personal opportunity, but to growth in an entire community.
Stacy Grams certainly believed as much when she started at Walmart out of high school as a deli associate. Now, 23 years later, Stacy has shaped her own story—and discovered a passion for helping people—in the work she does inside and outside the store.
“I had been promoted and was working as a cake decorator when I realized I just love making things better,” Stacy says. “Over the course of six years there, I went from zero experience decorating cakes to fielding 70 to 80 orders a weekend!”
While cake decoration may not seem the most obvious metaphor for growth, it certainly started Stacy down a path to greater awareness of her strengths. She had begun to realize: some were baked in.
“I started realizing, if you can make the difference in a single section, imagine the massive difference you could make overseeing an entire area! Once I started doing front-end work, I loved that. I have always loved working with people,” Stacy says.
After roles as an assistant manager and department manager, Stacy has settled in as an Academy Coach at Store 4256 in Ames, Iowa. The position has made her even better at her other great passion: helping people who need it.
“Before I came to the Academy, I would get off (work) pretty late, and I would often see folks digging around in dumpsters,” Stacy says. “I thought to myself, ‘this community has to be able to help people.’”
So, Stacy decided to do just that. She came up with the idea of collecting hygiene items and packing them in a way that was dignified and accessible. Then, she took to social media to poll the community. And it turned out that people were more than willing to help.
“I got an overwhelming response,” Stacy explains. “People were dropping off hotel soaps, sanitary wipes, backpacks and purses, things like that. And I got together with friends, and we packed all of those bags—over 200 of them the very first time!”
Her care packages assembled, Stacy set about handing them out to people in town. From Goodwill parking lots to chance encounters, she was able to hand out all 200. Once she saw her community uniting around her efforts, Stacy knew there was more yet to do.
“The word grew, and community members started donating cash and gift cards,” Stacy says. “And I knew I could do even more.”
Now, Stacy hosts regular cookouts in the community, and invites anyone in need of a hot meal—no questions asked. She still makes weekly hygiene handouts but always wants to do more. She credits her drive to help people to things she has learned both in and outside work.
“Working at Walmart, especially in the Academy, has made me more able to see the perspectives of other people. That in itself has led me to ask more questions, rather than assume things about people,” Stacy says.
“Being with Walmart for 23 years, you sort of think you know it all,” she says. “But when I came into this role, I realized how many new perspectives there are to consider. Not just in my associates, and in how can they be better, but also, how can I work to make everyone around me better? I came to the Academy because I love to help people. And I want to keep doing it.”
Check out more stories about your fellow associates doing awesome things.