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Eliz­abeth Maynard greets stu­dents in the dining hall. Eliz­abeth Maynard | Courtesy

We pass her every day as we amble into the bois­terous cafe­teria. She smiles and wel­comes us while we swipe our ID’s and mutter under our breath about a test we just bombed or the payment we had to make or the cost of our meal plan.

Whether pro­viding moral support to a frowning student, posting funny quotes and photos on her Facebook and Instagram accounts, res­cuing puppies with the Detroit Bully Crew, or coor­di­nating a casino bus trip fundraiser for vet­erans with post-trau­matic stress dis­order, Eliz­abeth Maynard, better known as “Liz from Saga,” encourages each soul she encounters.

Her motto is simple: “I put one foot in front of the other, help others as they have helped me, and put good energy out there.”

A Tecumseh native, Maynard attended Western Michigan Uni­versity for a year before beginning a career in the auto industry. She worked the graveyard shift, from 11 pm to 7 am, for 22 years at various auto­motive man­u­fac­turing plants in south­eastern Michigan, including Hutchinson in Quincy, while helping to raise her niece and nephew.

When the Great Recession hit in 2008 and the Quincy branch of Hutchinson closed, the company offered their employees a schol­arship with a stipend to go back to school. With the schol­arship, Maynard attended Kellogg College in Battle Creek where she earned a degree in Admin­is­trative Assis­tance.

Maynard found the job search dif­ficult due to the plethora of auto­motive workers who went back to school and earned similar degrees. As a result, she went back to the auto industry after school and worked at the Alphi Man­u­fac­turing plant in Jonesville for four years before applying to Bon Appétit in August 2016.

JoAnn Alvarez, who inter­viewed and hired Maynard for Bon Appétit, said she knew Maynard’s  skills would be best used at the front desk, greeting guests.

“Liz is very friendly and out­going,” Alvarez said. “She con­nects well with all of the stu­dents, and I always like to have that per­sonal con­nection at the front desk.”

When asked about her favorite part of working for Bon Appetit, Maynard men­tioned her inter­ac­tions with stu­dents.

“I love hearing your highs and lows, and I try to offer support,” Maynard said. “I enjoy the kids a lot…I feel like you guys have accepted me, and that is a good feeling.”

When not wel­coming diners to their meals on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, she visits friends in Jackson or Battle Creek, attends her niece’s 4-H pre­sen­ta­tions and the college’s sporting events, and walks her rescue dog, a pitbull named Caesar.

Since 2011, Maynard has vol­un­teered with the Detroit Bully Crew, an orga­ni­zation that rescues dogs from abusive and neglectful owners. Cur­rently, Maynard is planning a bus trip to Greektown Casino in Detroit to raise money for Stiggy’s Dogs, a non­profit orga­ni­zation that trains dogs to assist vet­erans with PTSD. A $40 ticket buys a ride to Detroit as well as a $20 casino credit.

“Vet­erans and dogs are the two biggest things that I try to support,” said Maynard. “I love to give back. Any time I can give back and make somebody smile, that makes me smile.”

Since starting at Bon Appétit, Maynard has acquired a small cult fol­lowing on Facebook and Instagram, posting humorous and pleas­antly sar­castic quotes, memes, and photos of her dog.

“I will admit that my social media is not for everyone,” Maynard said. “I have a very dark, crazy sense of humor, and I love sarcasm. I post stuff that I think is funny, and I know my audience.”

Maynard finds value in the con­nec­tions she makes with stu­dents. While sitting at the front desk in Bon Appétit, she said that she hears stu­dents struggles and tries to offer as much support as she can, even in brief inter­ac­tions.

“My life has taken some inter­esting turns at times and you have to work through it,” Maynard said. “I heard every day before exam time about stressed kids, and I want you to know that you will get through this, and it will all work out.”

  • Alexan­derYp­si­lantis

    Love to read about people working for Dog Rescue Groups like Detroit Bully Crew. Both my dogs are rescue animals and I wouldn’t have any other. Well done Eliz­abeth Maynard, keep up the good work!