By Gabby Rente
“Oh, hi everybody.”
It is a phrase any Washington College member knows well. It belongs to a friendly face that greets everyone whenever they walk into Hodson Hall Commons. When students think of hospitality, they think of Ms. V, whose full name is Mrs. Veronica Jones-Isaacs.
Jones-Isaacs has been working at WC since Aug. 18, 2015, where she first worked as a cashier and greeter and then as a server. People will bump into her stocking the salad bar or adding fresh silverware by the soda fountains, where she will always pause to say hi to guests. “Enjoy the meal, everybody,” she will say.
What makes this petite powerhouse of positivity stand out to people is how she endeavors to remember every single person’s name.
“I came from a cafeteria back home, and my supervisor taught me. He says, ‘The students, guest, faculty, and staff? They like to be called by their names,’” she said.
When Jones-Isaacs was working as a cashier when she first started at WC, she would take a moment to learn the name of each person she encountered. This little act of consideration made her a memorable face to the WC community.
“I see them five days a week. They come in groups with their friends. I look at the names, the names on the card, their picture is there, and that’s how I learn. And if I don’t have the card, or if it’s just someone paying cash or visiting— I ask them,” she said.
If someone new walks into Hodson, she helps them know where all the food stations and amenities are. “And every year I make it a point to learn the new freshmens’ names,” she said.
Jones-Isaacs enjoys talking with students but tries to respect their space at the same time, “because some of them might have a bad day or something like that around finals time.” She prays for students around finals time because she knows how stressful it can be.
“The students, they make my day,” she said. “I don’t get up in the morning and say, ‘Oh Lord, I gotta go to work.’ I have a joy coming.”
When she is not on the clock for making someone’s day at WC, she enjoys reading Christian devotions and attending her community Baptist church each Sunday.
Jones-Isaacs hails from humble beginnings. She grew up in Greensburg, PA, a small suburb right outside of Pittsburgh, and like most residents from the area she is fiercely loyal to her local sports teams, the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Steelers, and the Pirates.
She is also the sixth child out of 12, with five brothers and six sisters, born to Viola and David Jones Sr., both of whom instilled a strong sense of family and faith in her from a young age.
She recalled how on her fiftieth birthday, one of her nieces gave a toast to her. “One of my nieces told me, ‘Aunt VJ would give the shirt off her back from someone,’” she said with a smile.
Jones-Isaacs told of a time when she was at a Dollar General and saw a woman crying because she did not know if she had enough money to get food for her kids. “I then gave some money —I didn’t pay for the whole bill— but I said to the cashier, ‘Put this toward her bill,’” she said.
She recalls that the most influential people in her life have been her husband Bob Isaacs, the Lord, and her mother. Up until her passing in 2002, her mother was the closest person to her.
“When I was younger, and when she was living years ago, she said ‘Veronica, you are important too,’” she said. “When Mom’s health started failing, I was always there helping her, and for a lot of family, I was there for them too. And they were there for me.”
She recalls that the passing of both her mother and husband were the hardest times for her as well. Her husband passed away last March.
“When my mother died, I cried every day. And I would dream about her every day, and I would have dreams about Bob. That was the most difficult time,” she said.
Focusing on work and talking to her peers and family helped her work through both losses.
“God had given me the strength to go on,” she said.
Jones-Isaacs and her husband met at a hair salon where they were both frequent customers. “‘I have an application and a good resume.’ That was his line to talk to me,” she said.
They started dating in 1996, but Jones-Isaacs thought their first date was a disaster.
“Our first date was at Red Lobster, and I had the ultimate feast. Here, I had the crab legs, the shells all over the table, on the floor, and he just laughed. I said to myself, ‘He’ll never ask me out again.’ And here I’ve been married to him 20 years after that.”
Isaacs then proposed to her on Dec. 19, 1997, and they were wed on Nov. 21, 1998. She has a step-daughter, Dorrisa, and grown step-grandchildren. Occasionally, she would accompany her husband around the country, visiting places as far as California. Her favorite place to visit by far has been Florida.
Despite these losses, Ms. V continues to radiate positivity for those around her.
Last September, she enjoyed attending a surprise birthday party for one of her sisters down at a resort in Orlando. “We did some shopping and went to Disney Springs,” she said. “It was exciting.” She loved being able to relax and spend time with her sisters and friends.
She also has a message for the student body. “If it’s only for an hour, a half hour, go for a walk, read a book, take time for yourself.” She paused and looked at the table, then laughed. “I need to slow down, too, and practice what I preach.”