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Spotlight: Bright colors and smiles liven up breakroom, build community

Thursday, June 6, 2019
By Bryan Roth
Nicole Sall

Words of inspiration are scattered across a neon green wall in the third-floor, shared breakroom of Hanes House. Written by staff and providers from the Department of Pediatrics, they're meant to uplift coworkers and add light to each day.

There's also a plastic dart board, massage chair and an artistic light fixture of a dock winding into the ocean. All are new additions to create a special and welcoming environment for employees.

"You come in here, and the relaxed atmosphere takes any tension out of your body," said Cheryl Chervinko, a staff assistant with Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition. "It clears your mind and also creates a space where our team can be together."

The breakroom's recent decorative makeover was led by Nicole Sall, also a staff assistant in Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition. Between February and April, she took donations of furniture from coworkers, collected chairs from Duke Surplus and visited local thrift stores to find other items to complete the space. The result is a truly communal space where employees from across Pediatrics gather to celebrate their teamwork, diversity and care for one another.

Helping Sall along the way were Deborah Ladd, a staff assistant with Allergy and Immunology, and Steven Clark, a staff specialist from Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine.

"I never really used this space before, but now I love taking time in the massage chair and spending a five-minute break with my coworkers," said Kristin Campbell, a staff assistant with Hematology-Oncology.

The new space has prompted more resilience among colleagues. They say they've built stronger relationships with coworkers because everyone is excited to have lunch or share a coffee in the space.

"I see people talking, laughing and bonding all the time," Sall said. "Caring for each other and connecting like this is what creates our special work 'family.'"