Tom Merwin Gold Star Employee Award

Gold Star winner aims to give patrons a "great experience"

Mendota Area Chamber of Commerce president, Jan Phalen, left, presents the Gold Star Award to Ashley Brooks at the Chamber’s annual dinner.

MENDOTA – This year’s Tom Merwin Gold Star Employee award was announced at the Mendota Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual dinner, Nov. 3. Nominated by the general public, this award is given to someone in Mendota who is considered an outstanding employee.

“I was extremely honored,” said Ashley Brooks, the 2017 recipient.

Brooks is a bartender at Rosati’s Pizza and the Mendota Golf Club.

During the presentation, Jesse Arellano, Mendota Area Chamber of Commerce executive director described the nominee. He stated that her nominator said she always greets her customers with a smile and takes that extra effort to make your night enjoyable.

When Arellano noted that one of her employers said they can always count on her to help out as long as it is later in the morning, because she might still be on California time, Brooks realized he was talking about her.

“I had no idea. I was extremely shocked,” Brooks said.

Originally from Palm Springs, Calif., Brooks moved to Mendota in 2015.

Since 2009, she has been visiting Mendota with her fiancé during the Sweet Corn Festival. Little did she realize that she would soon be calling this town home.

Within a month of moving here, Ashley began working at Rosati’s Pizza. Later, she began bartending at the Mendota Golf Club, too.

“I always like to be nice to people. I enjoy people and it is important to me that they have a good experience. I know how I want to be treated when I go out and I try to create that for everybody else. I enjoy coming to work and seeing the people, too,” she said.

Brooks shared news of her award the next day on Facebook. She told her story about leaving behind everything familiar to start a new life in Mendota and the difficulty she had adjusting during the first months. “It was a really big adjustment. I knew it was a small town, but I didn’t realize how much of a culture shock it would be,” she recalled.

She told her story as a reminder that everyone is going through something.

“As a bartender, server you see people from all walks of life on a daily basis. Some all dressed up to celebrate, some dressed in black because they just buried a loved one and some just out to eat because they just didn’t feel like cooking. Whatever the case may be, I’ve always made it my personal mission and try my best to make sure everyone has a great experience. Receiving the 2017 Tom Merwin Gold Star Employee Award tells me that I must be creating that experience for my customers, friends and people of the community. And that makes my heart happy,” she said.

Numerous comments to her post confirmed that she has a friendly and compassionate attitude at work that is worthy of receiving an outstanding employee award.

Having attended the chamber’s annual dinner before, it did not seem out of the ordinary when her fiancé suggested they attend this year. Waiting off to the side to congratulate her on the award were her fiancé’s family members. She noticed them early, “I couldn’t figure out why they were there,” she said.

The secret was out.

Brooks was surprised, honored, and speechless on receiving the award, but one thing remains – she is still curious who nominated her.

As far as her settling in here, she has already made an impact with the community in a very short time.

“I never thought I would say this but, I’m happy to call Mendota my home.”

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