Winter’s wallop

Postal service employee loads a delivery vehicle

The first three months of 2018 brought major snowstorms to many parts of the United States, but the Postal Service’s dedication to its customers never wavered.

The streak began in January with rare snow in the South and bone-chilling temperatures in the Midwest. The wild weather continued in March, when the Northeast was hit with four nor’easters in three weeks.

“We have never had this much snow, but to see everybody in a pleasant mood is encouraging,” Douglas, GA, Postmaster Damita Gaskins said after a January storm.

USPS also focused on innovation and improving customers’ experiences during the Jan. 1-March 31 period, including introducing an online appointment scheduler for passport customers, an improved version of PS Form 3849, and rebooted training for retail associates.

Additionally, the organization unveiled several stamps during the year’s first quarter, including a Black Heritage stamp honoring Lena Horne and a stamp featuring Fred Rogers, host of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.”

Meanwhile, a Gallup poll released at the beginning of 2018 found the Postal Service once again has the best job performance of any government agency.

USPS was ranked “excellent” or “good” by 74 percent of consumers surveyed, topping 13 other government agencies.

“For the Postal Service, everyone is a customer. Our high ranking in this poll reflects the efforts of our employees to improve customers’ experiences at every touch point,” said Postmaster General Megan J. Brennan. “I thank all employees for their contributions.”

Coming next: Link’s four-part review of 2018 continues Dec. 26 with a look at springtime activities.

Making things better

Postal employee cleans headstone

Postal Service employees and retirees served their communities throughout 2018.

Melvin White, a retired St. Louis letter carrier, honored the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. by revitalizing streets named after him, while Melvin McCoy, a Memphis, TN, auto technician, honored his late father, who participated in a 1968 strike to improve conditions for African-American sanitation workers.

Other employees used their personal experiences to highlight health and social issues.

Cross River, NY, Postmaster Clarence Carson shared his story of overcoming homelessness and addiction, while breast cancer survivor Linda Williams-Brettingen, an organizational development specialist at USPS headquarters in Washington, DC, supported efforts to fight the disease.

In Toledo, Retail Associate Jenny Hughes was inspired by her two sons to propose a statewide alert system to help drivers with communication difficulties.

Employees also helped colleagues understand the benefits of charitable giving.

Thomas Jasak, a Vaucluse, SC, postal support employee, told co-workers how donations to Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) charities changed his daughter’s life, while Dolores Williams, an Edison, NJ, customer care agent, recalled how a CFC charity helped with her cancer treatments.

Honoring military veterans was important to employees, too.

Washington, DC, Postal Inspector Carroll Harris continued his work protecting fellow veterans from scams, while Wilson, NC, Letter Carrier Clarence Hollowell spent his free time cleaning veterans’ headstones.

“When we see something in society that’s just wrong, we can make it better if we are willing to step forward,” Hollowell said.

Pro tips

Vehicle Maintenance Facility Manager Jill Jessen

USPS employees shared peer-to-peer wisdom through Link’s “Best practices” column this year.

Here’s a look at some of their tips:

• Take it outside: Apple Valley, CA, Postmaster Bobby Kimball delivers stand-up talks in his Post Office’s parking lot, where employees are required to stand in a circle so everyone faces each other. “It’s great for everybody being involved,” he says.

• Come prepared: Jefferson City, MO, Retail Associate April Burger is always prepared for passport transactions, including keeping a growth chart on hand so customers can measure their children’s height for applications. “It helps everyone,” she says.

• Make a game of it: To promote workplace cohesion, Aurora, IL, Vehicle Maintenance Facility Manager Jill Jessen helped create You Are Awesome, a game in which employees give cards to co-workers who do a good job. “I want everyone to feel like they’re on a team,” Jessen says.

• Dress for success: Worcester, MA, Letter Carrier John Magliaro believes that as a face of the Postal Service in his community, he should always look his best, so he wears a tie and keeps his shoes shined. “I take pride in my uniform,” Magliaro says.

Keep it positive: Carol Stream, IL, Retail Associate Tyra Clemons-Lawson has a simple trick for delivering excellent customer service: She smiles.

“If you give [customers] your positive energy, you will get it back,” she says.

Postal people

Los Angeles Mail Handler Willie Clemmons

Link tells stories about great Postal Service employees every day. Here are 10 favorites from 2018.

1. Good serviceLos Angeles Mail Handler Willie Clemmons, 91, marked 68 years as a postal employee in August — and said he has no plans to retire anytime soon.

2. End of an era. Samuel Mitchell made history in January when he retired as the nation’s last presidentially appointed Postmaster.

3. Tried and true. Before retiring in September, Frances Higgs, 80, spent 40 years as a rural carrier in Superior, MT — where she saw more than her fair share of moose, elk, and coyotes.

4. Good find. Elgin, IL, Custodian Thomas Caulfield became a mail detective when he found a Postmaster’s World War II-era letter and reunited the note with the man’s son.

5. Long run. Mack Mata Jr. answered a “Help Wanted” sign at the Carlsbad, CA, Post Office in 1960. Fifty-seven years later, he retired as the city’s longest-serving letter carrier.

6. ‘Oh my stars!’ The headline refers to 98-year-old customer Lucille Hilterbrand’s reaction when a Postal Service employee called to say letters that her deceased brother wrote during the 1940s had recently turned up at the Mail Recovery Center in Atlanta.

7. It’s him we like. Postal Service employees were excited to promote the Mister Rogers stamp when it was released in March. It turns out some employees had personal connections to the beloved children’s TV host.

8. Hailing the ‘Queen.’ The world lost an icon when Aretha Franklin died in August, but Pontiac, MI, Mail Handler Andra McKoy lost a friend and mentor.

9. Letters to Barbara and All the best. Two stories that recall the legacies of former President George H.W. Bush and first lady Barbara Bush, who both died this year, through the letters they exchanged with friends, admirers and each other.

10. Carrying on. Every Postal Service employee has a story to tell. For Rutland, VT, Letter Carrier Sasa Maksimovic, it’s a story about leaving war-torn Serbia in the 1990s and beginning a new life as a USPS employee.

What were your favorite Link stories this year? Email your feedback to