Michael Stephens’ Story

Since his start at St. John’s, Michael Stephens has maintained his “leave things better than they were found” motto. Stephens, a St. John’s Building Services Specialist started at St. John’s Home in 2002.

This St. John’s employee of 22 years now looks back on the start of his career path, saying it began “very differently.”

“Believe it or not, I went to SUNY Alfred for plant science — I thought I wanted to get into genetics,” says Stephens. When asked what changed, Stephens says he was not cut out for life in a lab, “I realized I liked the hands-on work so much more.”

“Growing up I would always love to fix things when they broke,” Stephens adds. “That hands-on thing has always been there.”

Once Stephens graduated, he began work at a local greenhouse plant nursery. From there he had enough training to get a job on the grounds team at St. John’s Home.

“I always like to learn and see where it takes me.”

“I was a groundskeeper for the Home for about a year,” says Stephens. Then, in 2003 Stephens became a mechanic. “I love being able to fix things with my hands, and after four years as a mechanic I had the opportunity to come over to the Meadows.”

Stephens says there is always the opportunity for growth and learning at St. John’s. He says a big part is the changing technologies and the new people you meet. “I don’t think it will ever stop — the learning.”

An average day of work for Stephens is a busy one, consisting requests and jobs coming from “all over the map.” Stephens answers calls from St. John’s Meadows and Brickstone by St. John’s for jobs like moving furniture, fixing the furnace, plumbing, snow removal, and much more.

Stephens says that in this line of work, “every day is different from the last,” and that is something on which he thrives.

“I always tell people that come to the Meadows that it is like taking care of a little town,” he says. “You get to know the people that live here. It is different than other lines of work.”

Stephens says he appreciates the people around him who make up “this little town.” He says there is always “someone to help you if you are struggling, and that goes for residents, staff, and administration.”

“Essentially, teamwork does make the dream work,” he adds. “Working together we solve a lot more than we could on our own.”

Stephens mentions his admiration for the St. John’s organization, particularly involving efforts in its support and development of employees. “I think they do a good job to ensure everyone can be at their best,” says Stephens. “If you are struggling, professionally or personally, there are resources they provide — it is great to see.”

Now a building specialist for over a decade, he says he feels fulfilled in his role at St. John’s and in his personal life. Stephens commutes to work every day from Steuben County, and says he “likes the drive as it acts as a separation from work and home life — it is time to decompress.” In his free time, he likes to be outdoors kayaking or hiking as much as possible with his wife.

As for the future, Stephens says he is looking forward to more learning opportunities in this “little town.”

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