Better Know A BRIDGES Staffer: Receptionist Charlene O’Baner
Family: Two adult grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren in Memphis!
Where do you live? In the East Memphis/Hickory Hill area.
How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are? I just turned 74, but I feel 34!
Where are you from/where’d you go to school? Memphis is home, and I attended Lester High School.
When did you start at BRIDGES? Five years ago.
What did you do before, and what brought you here? I worked in the hospitality field, supervising, sales and management positions in major hotel chains. A friend and former BRIDGES employee, Sherri Crane, asked me to help out while another employee was ill. I started part-time and eventually accepted a full-time position.
What keeps you here/what’s your favorite part of working at BRIDGES? I’m still here because I like what I do and I enjoy the Bridge Builders family. I love the atmosphere of this building, and the staff is awesome. Do you know how many hugs I get a day? Hugs give me energy!
What’s something most people don’t know about you? 1) I lived in Europe for 7 years. 2) I worked for the Department of Defense, doing testing and exams for incoming U.S. personnel for vehicles and motorcycles. 3) I also worked as a travel consultant and had the pleasure of visiting many countries, all for free. 4) I served as an official judge for the Miss Iowa competition for two years. It was an awesome experience!
What’s your personality type, and how does it help you contribute to the team? I’m a very outgoing and friendly person with a grandma attitude. I love life. I love working with the teams here, and knowing what’s going on in each department, I can really help each person with answers before they’re transferred to departments.
If you could solve one community challenge in Memphis with the snap of your fingers, what would it be? I would snap my fingers and solve the homelessness problem.
What one thing about Memphis would you never want to change? I would never change the Beale Street Historic District. There is so much to do and so many things to see.
What other nonprofits or causes are close to your heart? Other than BRIDGES, I support St. Jude and any event dealing with the National Kidney Foundation.
When friends from out of town come to visit, where do you take them? Barbecue, Beale Street and casinos!
#HumbleBrag… What hobbies and talents do you keep on the DL? I’m a great cook.
Which talent would you most like to have? I’d love to be a great vocalist.
What’s your go-to karaoke anthem? I love the blues—old school. I’d say Al Green, Love and Happiness.
What’s in your fridge? Cokes, water and wine, plus some salad mix and takeout boxes. It’s just me, so I only cook on the weekends, when the kids come over.
What are you reading? I like spy novels, murder mysteries, fantasy and romance.
Who are your heroes of fiction? Denzel Washington’s characters in John Q and The Great Debaters.
Which living person do you most admire? I really admire Michelle Obama. She’s a great role model.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse? I really do overuse the word “awesome.”
What do you feel people take for granted the most? Some people, not all, take kindness for granted.
What’s your personal motto? Good, better, best; never let it rest until my good is better and my better is best!