Ghislaine Backmon does not mind organizing cluttered files, dusting desks or purchasing air freshener to create an inviting work atmosphere. To her, it’s part of the job.
Backmon, as estate clerk in the Orangeburg County Probate Office, doesn’t find it inconvenient to keep an orderly work space, not only for herself, but for others.
A manager of hundreds of estates, Backmon has created the best use of her limited work space by reorganizing purchase records for easier access. She also took the time to clean both the supply and filing cabinets in the office.
It is her dedication to keeping everything on and around her in order that has earned her designation as the exemplification of cleanliness for the month of April as part of Orangeburg County’s Community of Character initiative.
It’s an honor she says she both appreciates and finds surprising.
“I was totally surprised because there are some things you do naturally and don’t expect to get honored for it. It’s important that you have a welcoming environment,” Backmon said.
Purchasing plants for the office and getting rid of dust and reducing clutter are among the things she does to create a better environment for her co-workers and the people she serves.
“We’re dealing with people who have lost their loved ones. When you come into a place, you want it be welcoming and clean, especially when things can be very chaotic at that time in people’s lives. I’ll come in and rearrange the chairs and make sure that the office is smelling good, whether it’s with air freshener or candles,” Backmon said.
“I sweep and keep things in order, even as far as the pens inside their container. It really does make a difference. For some people, environment is everything. Sometimes I’ll change things according to the season. At Christmas time, I’ll maybe put up some holiday stuff or candy dish,” she said.
Backmon is a native of Boston, Mass., where her mother, who is also named Ghislaine, lives. She attributes her cleanliness to her mother.
“She was a pretty clean woman, but I was a young mother myself. When you’re a mom, it’s important to be organized and, to me, being organized is having things clean and in order. In my personal space, however, I would say that I’m more neat than clean,” Backmon said. “I think if I’m neat enough, I can ... navigate through the uncleanliness.”
The reorganization of purchase records is just one way she keeps her office clean and operating efficiently.
“I separated and divided the purchasing vendors by books. In that way, my judge can find what she’s looking for according to the vendors. I also put the office supplies in a strategic order so that when you open up the file cabinet, you’re able to find what you’re looking for. I think it makes the office run smoother,” Backmon said, noting that she is encouraged when she sees other employees repeating her pattern of cleanliness.
“You’d be surprised how many people actually do appreciate it. Even if they don’t say anything, they do appreciate it,” she said.
Serving the public, including providing the help, compassion and sensitivity that they sometimes need, is part of why she enjoys the job she’s had for approximately four years. She and her husband, Gregory, are the parents of four children and the grandparents of two.
It is important to instill good character in her children, too, she said.
“We’ve instilled mostly spiritual values and making sure that they put God first. We try to instill in them a good work ethic, responsibility, respect and the importance of education,” Backmon said. “I think that it’s a great thing that the Orangeburg County Community of Character promotes character in this community.”
She said the OCCOC provides proper recognition of people who are working to make their community and environment a better place.
“That’s an awesome thing, and you’re not gonna find that everywhere. It’s definitely an encouragement to the recipients and to those around them. It encourages me to just keep doing what I’m doing,” Backmon said.
“You’re not always going to get recognition for what you do whether it’s being clean or sharing a nice word or smile, but it does make a world of difference to those you work with, your family and others who you come in contact with.”
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