To know Mabel Sharif is to love her.
“I am who I serve,” says the 18-year employee of Baystate Mason Square Neighborhood Health Center, who is loved by co-workers, patients, friends and family, and by others for her community spirit and do-good attitude.
Her philosophy on life?
“I live my life day to day with the idea that I am responsible for how I treat people, not how they treat me,” says Mabel, the health center’s community liaison and outreach specialist, who began her career here as an outreach worker.
She created her own job
It’s a job she created for herself, laughs Mabel about her first position.
“I serve on the Mason Square Neighborhood Health Center Advisory Board and at the time they were in the process of hiring a manager who would spend time out in the community. I told them what they really needed was an outreach person to do the job and that it should be me,” says Mabel, who went on to help the hospital’s ambulatory grants coordinator write a grant for the position, which she eventually was hired to fill.
“Back then it entailed working only about 15 hours a week….mostly getting the word out about our health center and getting patients to use our clinic. I attended health fairs and endless meetings at various organizations to build relationships, so I could get to know everyone and they could get to know us,” she added.
Mabel says she enjoys meeting and greeting patients with a smile.
“We want our patients to have a good experience while here, so that they will come back and refer friends and family to our clinic,” she says.
In her spare time
So, what does Mabel – who serves on numerous committees in the community and within Baystate Medical Center – do in her spare time?
“I don’t know if I have any spare time,” she laughed. “I like to bowl and go to jazz concerts. My favorites are Nancy Wilson and John Coltrane. I like true jazz, not contemporary. My real hobby is solving cryptogram puzzles every day. I also keep busy by helping my son, who is a Springfield police officer, at an afterschool prevention program where I mentor students,” she said.
Mabel, who has six children, also has 10 grandkids and three great-grandchildren who keep her busy.
“I love going to watch them play sports and dance, and when they miss the early-morning school bus, I pick them up and bring them to school,” she laughed about being a taxi cab for her grand kids.
A memorable day
Mabel said one of her most memorable days at the health center – and there have been many – occurred when she noticed a man in line waiting to register to be seen.
“He just didn’t look right to me, so I went up to him and said ‘Are you okay?’ He shook his head no and I took him right out of line to be seen. I learned later that I most likely saved his life, as he was taken straight by ambulance to our emergency department. Then, much to my surprise, one day in church this very same man got up and singled me out for what I did,” says Mabel.
The health center’s community liaison and outreach specialist has been extra busy as of late. During December, she took extra measures to make sure they had enough toys to distribute to children for the holidays, as well as coordinating an ongoing winter coat giveaway for those in need of a warm jacket this season. If you’d like to donate one for a child or adult - both new or used in good condition - you can call Mabel at 794-9663.