6,500 members and 24 trips per year keep Kay Estep stepping lively
Kay Estep was fired from a job when she was in her 20s. Considering the circumstances, it was only a sign of things to come.
“I got a job in a deli because I wanted an outlet. I had two babies at home, and I just wanted to talk to adults,” she said. “They fired me because — no surprise — I talked too much. In reality, I was too nice to the customers.
“I was mad about it at the time, but in retrospect, I agree. Those lines would get really long because of my chatting,” Estep said.
Just a few years later, thanks to Estep’s love of people, a loan officer at F & M Trust Company in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, approached her and asked if she wanted a job. “At the time, it was a perfect job for a mother,” she said. “Plus, I lived caddy-corner to the bank, and working at such a stately place seemed so prestigious. I used to watch all the dressed-up women go to and from their jobs, and it all seemed so glamorous.”
Estep began as a teller and then worked in customer service, but when the bank decided to start a seniors club 22 years ago, there was no doubt Estep would get the job as its director.
“Even in the bank and before the birth of the GO Club, it was apparent I loved older people,” she said. “I love to listen, and they are my favorite age group to be around. I was honored when they asked me to begin and lead this program, and 22 years later, I can’t imagine retiring.”
Back seat to relationships
When the GO Club began, it wasn’t “all about the trips,” according to Estep.
“We just wanted the club to be a bonus. We gave discounts on certain services and some little extras,” she said. “We only traveled, at most, around five or six times a year. Today, we have 6,500 members and take 24 trips a year.”
Those journeys range from day trips to international jaunts. Members must be at least 50 years old and have a designated minimum balance on deposit with the bank. Although the minimum balance requirement was once questioned as necessary, bank officials realized that some people were simply keeping $5 in a checking account “just to travel with Kay.”
“I really sell the trips, and people say, ‘We want to travel with Kay,’” Estep admitted.
Group members also say, “Without Kay, there is no GO Club.” Although that statement is flattering, Estep laughs when she hears it; she understands that no one is irreplaceable. However, GO Club members are undoubtedly lucky.
“I love getting these people to travel and seeing their joy. When a trip is over and customers say, ‘Kay, that was just the best,’ I get my reward,” she said. “I love what I do. I love making people happy.
“Having the opportunity to experience new and sometimes exotic places is absolutely secondary.”
One of those exotic locations, Ireland, holds a special place in Estep’s heart, and she claims it as one of her favorite destinations. “The day before we left for Ireland, I had a terrible car accident: The car was demolished,” she said. “I wasn’t seriously injured, but I was bruised and very sore. I went on the trip, and everyone, from group members to the tour operator to the people in Ireland, seemed to take care of me. It’s a very welcoming country.”
Kodak moments at home
Estep can also claim the title “domestic goddess.” She excels in flower gardening, cross-stitching and scrapbook making. She shares these hobbies with family members, including her grandsons, who assist her in “puttering in the garden,” and her daughter, who recently presented Estep with a personalized scrapbook for her 60th birthday.
Estep sighed when remembering this recent event. “I just bawled and bawled. It was the best gift ever.”
Although Estep’s husband, Bob, is officially retired, he also enjoys getting dirty at his new job: groundskeeper at a local golf course. “He thinks he’s died and gone to heaven,” Estep said.
Estep is also an enthusiastic shopper. “I just love it,” she said. “I’m a jewelry nut, and I have to make sure everything matches, and it doesn’t have to be expensive.
“I don’t always have to buy something. It’s more about the companionship and spending the day together. With my time-consuming job, I have to make a real effort to spend time with my friends and family, and shopping is often the answer,” she said.
Family is foremost on Estep’s personal agenda, and she admits that the toughest part of her demanding travel schedule is leaving her grandsons.
“I’m very close to both my son and daughter. But when my grandsons say, ‘How long are you going to be gone? We’re going to miss you so much,’ it breaks my heart. I hate to miss their ballgames and concerts,” Estep said.
Heart and soul of a bank group
Another heartbreaker for Estep is experiencing the hardships of the aging population in the GO Club.
“Watching people grow older, battle diseases and sometimes die is extremely difficult,” she said. “It’s one reason we have socials, mixers and picnics in the GO Club.
“The people who used to travel really enjoy these events, and I want them to know they are always part of our group. In many ways, this job is a lifetime commitment, not only for me but for my group members. I hope to always be here for them.”