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.”