Source: Becca Owsley, The News-Enterprise
For Matty Hartley, moving to Hardin County was coming home.
Before moving to Savannah, Georgia, she grew up in West Point. She attended school there and later T.K. Stone Middle School and Elizabethtown High School.
After graduation, she had plans of becoming an airline stewardess, but when she met her husband, Bill, plans changed. They married and moved to Louisville, where she worked in banking.
The couple later moved to Savannah, where they lived for 20 years. After quitting banking, Hartley, 53, opened a gift shop in Savannah and kept it until the commercial property investment was more than the gift shop profits. She sold it and didn’t plan on doing anything other than being a grandmother.
But that path changed.
In a hospital in Georgia, she stopped into a gift shop and noticed the buyer purchased items like she would. When she asked the gift shop manager about it, the manager thought she was there for a manager opening at a sister hospital. It wasn’t a job she initially thought of doing, but decided shopping for a gift shop was a “woman’s dream job.”
She got the job and threw herself into it.
“It was actually something that came from the heart,” she said of working at a hospital gift shop.
The gift shop there, like at Hardin Memorial Hospital, gives back to the hospital to help purchase items the hospital doesn’t have the extra money to buy, she said. Only one person is on salary and the rest of the workers are volunteers.
She was there for three years.
“It was a mission and a challenge,” she said.
Because air traffic controllers retire at 56, the couple began selling property and scaling down in preparation to move home.
West Point always was home to Hartley. It was the place she visited during holidays and the place she knew she wanted to live after her husband retired. But she knew when they left, she would miss her work at the gift shop.
She decided she could volunteer at the Hardin Memorial Health hospital gift shop, so she called the human resources department to get information about it.
After sharing her story, they informed her the auxiliary gift shop manager position was open for the first time in 11 years.
Hartley applied and has been the manager since July 5.
She said there are more volunteers at HMH than the previous hospital and all who have worked in the gift shop and the rest of the hospital employees have made her feel welcome.
“She’s been wonderful, we’re just excited to have her here,” HMH Director of Volunteer Services Kevin Hilton said. “She’s a breath of fresh air and a burst of energy.”
Hartley said she has fun every day. At the end of the day, the money go back to the hospital and she gets to be a part of spreading happiness to the shoppers there.
“The importance of the gift shop is to make money for the hospital,” she said. “It has to be passion that drives (volunteers).”
Auxiliary volunteer Patricia Howell called Hartley “motivated, energetic and intense.”
“She has a very good eye for things and is so happy to be back home,” she said. “She was very energetic and hit the ground running and cares about the hospital and believes in what we do.”
Hartley is happy to have returned to the area and again live in West Point. She hopes to become more involved in the community once she settles more into her job.
She said the job is like a gift from God and everything simply fell into place.