For Ray Harrell, it all started when he was growing up in Middlesex, Va. All through high school, he worked at a local restaurant, an experience that grounded him in what would be his career as an adult.
Now, he is the service manager in the Dining Services department at Westminster-Canterbury of the Blue Ridge. The job normally involves catering special events, but since those duties have been sidelined by the pandemic, he concentrates on supervision of servers in day-to-day dining operations and handles the ordering of alcohol for the bar.
He also plays a role in helping prepare such events as the special monthly dinners in the Jefferson Room. (The most recent was held on January 13 – a Northern Italy-themed wine dinner.) The chef plans those dinners, and “My wine rep and I work with the chef on the wines,” says Ray.
What does he love about the job? “The residents,” he says. “They really make it worthwhile. Making sure they’re taken care of really fills a spot in my heart.”
And he’s been filling that spot for awhile. After receiving his associate’s degree in business management from Rappahannock Community College in 2013, he started at WCBR as a server, and quickly started moving up the ladder of responsibilities. He became a supervisor a year later, coordinating the operation of service, working to achieve smooth, efficient, and courteous operations in all dining venues at WCBR.
He moved into his current position in August, and new challenges await him in the future as COVID restrictions ease and catering operations resume in full force.
Ray is a guy who shows “a lot of dedication,” according to his supervisor Duvell Vaughan, the dining service manager at WCBR who describes him as “my go-to guy,” making sure servers and their immediate supervisors are accountable for ensuring the unsurpassed service quality everyone at WCBR expects.
“He loves to pay attention to detail, and that’s what we need,” says Duvell.