Sewer Ops Team Recognizes Employee of the Year

The SFPUC Sewer Operations team recognized some of its best staff for their Employee Appreciation Day on Wednesday, May 15 at Griffith Yard.

Staff members who work in the field joined together during lunch to give accolades to the men and women who keep their operations running smoothly both inside and outside of the office.

There was a lot of laughter and a lot of food.

“We have around 60 people working in the field and we want to show them that we appreciate their efforts,” said Chris McDaniels, Sewer Operations Manager for Wastewater Enterprise, Collection Systems. “So, every year we have an Employee Appreciation Day and we make sure those in the field can attend the event. We serve up roasted chicken, spaghetti, and stuff like that. We celebrate them, we thank them, and we issue awards to those outstanding members of our staff.”

According to McDaniels, the staff member who earns the Employee of the Year designation gets full bragging rights all year long after being named the best of the best.

“The whole point is that we want to keep staff motivated and let them know that we appreciate the work they do in the field,” said McDaniels. “So that’s our main goal, to keep the people in the field happy. When people are motivated, you get the best results.”

Charlene DeDios (right) was recognized by Sewer Operations Manager Chris McDaniels (left) as Employee of the Year for her administrative work with payroll and benefits.

But this year’s Employee of the Year Charlene DeDios was far from boastful, and instead was in full shock as her name was announced. 

Recognized for her administrative work with payroll and benefits, and handling countless forms, applications and meetings with Sewer Ops staff, DeDios received a round of applause as she humbly stepped to the front of the room to get her award. Members of her team passed the mic from one end to the other, thanking her for being there as a resource, for answering their questions, and for making sure they got paid so that they could feed their families. 

“I look at them and I feel like they’re family because I’ve known a lot of them since 2010, so almost 10 years, and it’s really about helping them whenever they come to me,” said DeDios. “This is special because I’m only doing my job, you know, and I enjoy what I do.”

The SFGreasecycle team that was brought under Sewer Ops from another Wastewater Enterprise Division a few years ago was also recognized at the event.

“We developed a team to help transition the SFGreasecycle team to Sewer Ops and I wanted to honor them for a successful transition,” said McDaniels.

Lorenzo Hale (left), acting maintenance planner for the Sewer Ops team, served as the master of ceremony for the event and was also recognized for his work.

Lorenzo Hale, acting maintenance planner for the Sewer Ops team, served as the master of ceremony for the event and was surprised that his name was called for recognition. Hale, who has been at the SFPUC for over 25 years, was recognized for keeping Griffith Yard running smoothly, from the facilities themselves to any requests team members had for computers or equipment.

“It’s almost like being a maintenance guy on the cruise ship,” said Hale. “While everyone is having fun on the boat, I’m behind the scenes making sure everything’s working and in order. Today, they put me in front of the scenes and I was like ‘Whoa, whoa!’” he laughed. “I wasn’t ready for that.”