KeeKee Davis certainly doesn’t do her job for recognition. As a certified nursing assistant and eight-year veteran of Cedar Ridge Health & Rehab Center in Lebanon,IL, helping others is just second nature. 

However, on June 19, Davis received plenty of attention — when she was given the keys to a new 2023 Chevrolet Blazer. She had entered and won the “Lean on Me” contest hosted by Crest Healthcare Consulting, the organization providing operational support for Cedar Ridge and other skilled nursing facilities around Illinois. 

The contest, open to over 1,000 workers from 13 different skilled nursing facilities, was a demonstration of employee appreciation. Part-time and full-time employees were encouraged to answer the essay prompt, “Who do you lean on, and who leans on you?” Once contestants emailed their essays in, their names were entered into a random drawing. Employees had 30 days to send in their submissions.

In order to increase contest participation and excitement, Cedar Ridge advertised through flyers around the facility, reminders during morning huddles, and even one-on-one conversations with each employee.

There were no word limits and no writing requirements, everyone was simply encouraged to dig deep and drop their name in the hat. Davis wrote the winning entry:

“I worked so hard as a Certified Nursing Assistant, caring and helping those that can’t do for themselves. I did it with no problems; even on our bad days, we still made it work. I got an unexpected promotion to Human Resources and I couldn’t be happier with my new position. I lean on my staff and they lean on me, too. Not just because I handle the money, but because I care. They know they can ask me for help at any time no matter what it is. And yes, I will still get on the floor as a Certified Nursing Assistant: no questions asked!!!!!” 

Davis certainly spoke from the heart without any expectation of the surprise she would ultimately take for a drive. Ashley Huels, director of business development for Cedar Ridge, says Davis was “crying and jumping for joy” once she learned she was the lucky winner. Davis’ Cedar Ridge colleagues got to share this momentous event with her as she was announced winner on a Zoom call with all contestants on June 14. 

Huels says that the contest, which was hosted for the first time this year, was more than just a generous giveaway. She explained the importance of recognizing the people you rely on during the work day and says that employee appreciation is possible even at facilities where an expensive prize may not be feasible. 

“Anything that you can do to show the employees that they’re appreciated, whether it’s small or big, it goes a long way,” Huels observed.

Although Davis ultimately opted for the $15,000 cash-out option instead of the 36-month paid car lease, she took her hot new ride for a spin after receiving the car keys from Crest President Shully Lichtman. 

Davis was all smiles as colleagues cheered her on, proving once again those we “lean on” to be priceless.