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  •  Working in the hospital cafeteria for more than 45 years, Freddie Giardino says her job gives her life purpose

    Back in 1973, Fernanda Giardino could be found in the kitchen at Rome Memorial Hospital up to her elbows in sinks full of pots and pans. It might not have been the most glamorous job in the world, but for Freddie, a job was a job and she was ready to do hers to the best of her ability. At 77, she still works part-time because it gives her a sense of purpose and pride.
    Freddie learned her work ethic from her parents. Born and raised in Rome, Italy, Freddie saw her parents working hard every day of her growing up years.
    “We lived about a mile from the Vatican,” Freddie said. “My mother and father ran a little grocery store there. That was how I met my husband, Frank.”
    Frank Giardino, from Rome, NY, was serving in the military and stationed in Rome, Italy. “He always came to my parent’s store to get a sandwich at lunchtime,” Freddie laughed. The couple courted over the serviceman’s mid-day meal.
    After they were married, Freddie and Frank returned to Rome, NY, where Frank’s parents operated a bakery. Freddie worked with her mother-in-law in the bakery until the family business closed in the early 1970s. By now, Frank and Freddie were parents to two daughters. To help support her family, Freddie said she had to find another job.
    Freddie applied for a job in the kitchen at Rome Memorial Hospital and was hired in the dish washing room.
    “I worked washing pots and pans for four years,” Freddie said. “I never complained. I was glad to have a job. When another position in the kitchen became available, I applied for that and got the job of preparing food for patients on liquid diets.”
    Freddie said she took pride in specially preparing food for patients so that they could get the nourishment they needed to get well. She did that job for 38 years, until she retired.
    It was only a semi-retirement though. Her husband Frank has been gone for several years now and Freddie explained that she needed something to keep her busy, so she asked if she could continue working in the hospital cafeteria part time. “Coming to work every day, even for a short time, gives my life a purpose,” Freddie said.
    Today Freddie works 2 ½ hours per day, five days a week, during the busiest hours at the hospital’s cafeteria. Dishing out smiles and laughter along with the daily lunch fare, she is always a friendly face for employees going through the line.
    “I try to cheer people up,” Freddie said. “The people here have to deal with a lot, whether they are working here or are family of a patient. I try to lighten the mood by being friendly.”
    “Any job can be good if you do your best and take pride in what you do,” Freddie laughed. “The best advice that I can give to anyone in any job is do your work well and be kind to everyone.”

     Freddie Giardino 
    ON THE JOB - Fernanda Giardino has been working in
    the cafeteria at Rome Memorial Hospital for over 45 years. 
    "I try to cheer people up," Freddie said.  "The people here
    have to deal with a lot, whether they are working here or
    are family of a patient.  I try to lighten the mood by being friendly."