‘She is always there with a smile on her face’
Rotary honors Dolly Madison manager

       Martha Atencio believes there is more to being a store manager than ringing up sales on the cash register.
       “Most of my customers are Westsiders,” said Atencio, who has worked in the Dolly Madison baked-goods store at 1301 W. Colorado Ave. for 33 years - the last 18 as manager. “I kind of get to know people on a one-to-one basis.”
       Her amiable personal approach recently caught the eye of the Rotary Club of North Colorado Springs, leading the volunteer service group to bestow upon Atencio the Service Above Self award.
       In the evaluation process for the award, the Rotary asks nominators to “tell us how [the nominee] has provided 'service above self.' It can be as big as a major community project or as small as a random act of kindness…”
       “She is always there with a smile on her face for each customer… to listen to people's problems, stories, concerns, opinions.,” responded local resident Cindy Lief, in nominating Atencio. “She has many friends (faithful ones) because of her big, big heart.”
       Atencio's heart has been tested of late, with the poor health of her husband, Felix, who was blinded by diabetes 10 years ago and suffers from the disease in other ways as well. Although she said, “I like my job very much,” she noted that she couldn't quit if she wanted to, because then she would lose the company's health insurance plan that covers many of his medical costs.
       Seeing long-time customers helps her put aside her personal issues. “They call me by name, and I call them by name,” she said. “I enjoy seeing them. It's kind of personal.”
       Some of them, especially the elderly, “need to talk to someone,” Atencio said. “I will take the time and listen.”
       She and Felix moved to Colorado Springs from Pueblo in 1959. He had been laid off from the steel mill, and after a visit to Manitou Springs, “I fell in love with the area,” she said. “I wanted a home as close to the mountains as possible, and the Westside was it.”
       The Dolly Madison store was just opening in 1971. “I was the first employee hired here,” she said. In 1986, she was promoted to manager. The store only has two employees now. In better economic times, there were six, she noted.
       Receiving the Rotary's Service Above Self award was a “surprise,” Atencio said. “It's an honor to be recognized.”
       Atencio is among 50 people being selected this year for the award. The “Nifty Fifty,” as the club calls the selectees, are helping the service group mark its 50-year anniversary, according to Rotary spokesperson Rosanne Gain.
       The Rotary is interested in hearing about other area citizens who might qualify for the award. For more information, call Gain at 266-8910.

Westside Pioneer article