“This is my moment to shine and to do my all.”
James’ path to becoming a cook started as a punishment from his grandmother.
“When I used to get in trouble in school, my punishment was to sit in the kitchen on this little stool,” he remembers. “I was always trying to be slick. So, to take the focus off me, I would ask, ‘Hey, grandma, how do you make those pies? How do you do this?’ And she'd bring me over there and she's like, ‘Boy, I'm going to show you how to cook this.’
“And I just never forgot.”
Today, James works in the kitchen at UPMC Williamsport. He can work several different jobs, but he prefers to be out front on the grill.
“I like the outside grill because I get to meet all the doctors and everything,” he says. “I'm more of an out-front person.”
Married for almost 30 years, with seven children and 14 grandchildren, James is known as “Papa” in his neighborhood. After moving to Williamsport in the early 1990s, James ran after-school and summer programs for children. More recently, he helped to fund youth sports programs. He also hosts cookouts or dinners for community members.
Although he worked many jobs before coming to UPMC, James found his home there. And he hopes to honor his grandmother’s legacy by creating a cookbook with her recipes.
“I've been trying to get into the hospital for a long time, and I remember telling my wife, ‘If I get this, this is going to be the one,’” he says. “I'm looking to retire here. So this is my moment to shine and to do my all.”
At UPMC, Life Changing Medicine means finding your place to shine.
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