CONWAY — James “Milton” Gant carries around a coin in his wallet as a reminder of his calling.
“It’s a pay it forward coin,” said the library assistant at the Conway branch of the Horry County Memorial Library. “I tell people, ‘Take this and pass it on to somebody else.’ ”
Gant won the Administration Division Employee of the Quarter Award for Horry County earlier this year. Gant assisted a homeless woman and not only received a thank you card from her but also flowers.
“I must say I was pretty shocked,” Gant said. “Of course I didn’t think I’d get anything in return.”
Which also is something that turned the head of Clif Boyer, library director for the county.
“That money she had used to buy him a gift probably could have been used for something more substantial in her life, but that’s how much that effort meant to her,” Boyer said. “That story right there exemplifies how he doesn’t care who you are or what background you come from, he’s there to help everybody who walks through the door.
“He really goes above and beyond in regards to helping our patrons. He’s helped many people find work. He’s just very informative. He always takes that extra step.”
Gant worked for the Employment Security Commission for 28 years, helping build resumes and teaching customer service. His mother was a teacher and he majored in psychology and counseling, which he credits as guiding him to where he is today.
“I used to tell my employees sometimes you couldn’t find a job for everybody, but you could smile as they left,” Gant said.
Amy James, a supervisor at the Conway branch, said Gant’s willingness to think of others first helps make a difference in their lives.
“Everything that Milton does is coming from a perspective of that person,” James said. “He loves giving people who are new to the library a tour of the library and our virtual services. He also interacts with people on a personal level and seeks what exactly what they’re looking for. He makes a real difference in people’s lives.”
Gant said he took it upon himself to obtain further training to better assist customers in obtaining unemployment benefits. He then trained other library staff members because, he said, about 75 percent of the questions library employees get are now life questions rather than book questions.
“The library has changed so much from the years when I was younger,” Gant said. “Now it’s ‘How can I survive in the world? Where can I find a job? How do I file for unemployment?’ … The library is such a focal point for the public.”
Gant said he will continue to carry the coin in his pocket as a personal reminder, but also as one to make sure more people know to help others.
“I guess we’re all called to do something and my calling is to help other people. It’s just my calling in life,” Gant said. “You just want to show people that somebody is thinking about them. The small things in life can make a big difference to people.”
Contact JASON M. RODRIGUEZ at 626-0301 or follow him at Twitter.com/TSN_jrodriguez.