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EMPLOYEE SPOTLIGHT: Sara W.

Sara W. portrait image

Sara W.

Manager of Member Benefits and Payment Policy

Commercial Product Management

How long have you worked at Neighborhood, what do you do here and what part of your job do you most enjoy?
I began my career with Neighborhood in January of 2000. In 2005, I took a four-year “maternity leave” after having my second son, and then returned in 2009. In total, I have been at Neighborhood for about 19 years. I have held many positions here, including Claims Analyst, Quality Auditor, and Benefits Specialist. I am currently the Manager of Member Benefits and Payment Policy. One of the things I enjoy most about this position is that every day I feel like I learn something new!

What did you do before joining Neighborhood?
I joined Neighborhood as a Claims Processor shortly after graduating high school. Throughout high school, I held a data entry position for a company named Data Plus. Neighborhood used to outsource their claims entry to this company. At the time, I had no idea that in less than five years I would begin my career with Neighborhood! Crazy to think that I have had ties to this company since I was 14 years old!

Of all the projects you have worked on at Neighborhood, do any stand out as being especially meaningful?
Very early on in my career here, the Claims team would collect donations and put together gift baskets with toiletries, non-perishable foods, gift cards, etc. We would then go out and deliver these baskets in person to some of our members. It was such a great experience to meet our members and make them smile!

Tell us a little bit about the years you spent growing up – sharing what helped shaped your future.  
My favorite memories of my childhood are of the annual family picnics my Memere and Papere would organize at the end of every summer. We would rent sites at Lincoln Woods Park and spend the entire day with the whole family. Every year, my grandmother would bring button candy for all of the kids, and to this day, I think of her anytime I see this candy in a store and it makes me smile!

I loved school in general, but high school was my favorite! I loved my classes and teachers. One of my favorite things was that my school was very small (my graduating class was only about 75 people) and most of the friends I met there, I am still in contact with today. After high school, I started working in the Medical Records department for Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. After six months, I was informed that they were closing their doors. At that time, I thought this was the worst possible news and was so nervous about finding another job. It is true that “every cloud has a silver lining” because I was hired as a Data Entry Clerk here at Neighborhood and that was the beginning of my career! Here it is almost 23 years later and it has been an amazing experience being a part of the evolution of Neighborhood!

Sara and her sisters in 1983 ( Left to Right: Amy, Sara, Kristen)

What do you like to do when you’re not working?
When I am not working, I love spending time with my family. I have four boys, ages 24, 17, 14, and 5, so there is always something going on! I also love going to concerts or even going to see local bands with my husband. Blues and classic rock are my favorite genres.

Sara and all her boys! ( Left to Right: Matt, Corbyn, Kullen, Sara’s husband Eddie, and Caiden)

Share a “Fun Fact” with us. Something about you that others might find surprising or intriguing?
I am a farm girl at heart! I grew up working on a horse farm and riding horses. I even went to an agricultural vocational high school where I majored in equine science.

Sara riding her horse, Benson, at age 12

Another “Fun Fact” is that my husband and I originally met when I was 16 years old when he worked with my sister at Blockbuster Video. Shortly after meeting, he joined the military and we kept sporadic contact over the years. (I still have letters that he sent me from boot camp in 1998!) Fifteen years later, when I was 31, we reconnected playing Words With Friends via a cell phone app. He suggested that the loser of our game buy the winner dinner. He of course lost and took me to dinner and we’ve been together ever since!

Sara and her husband Eddie.( Top photo 1998; bottom photo 2018)

What advice or recommendations would you give to someone interested in the type of career you are in?
Build strong professional relationships, both within your direct team and with the other business areas in an organization. Working with others and not against them is the best way to succeed….at the end of the day we are all striving to reach the same goal.