For many people, going to the post office is a chore. For many Woody Creek residents, going to the post office is a pleasure.
Woody Creek Postmaster Sherry Mahoney is originally from England and has now lived in the Roaring Fork Valley since 1990. In the five years she’s worked and lived in Woody Creek, she’s become a familiar and friendly fixture to anyone who frequents the post office there. Her cheery disposition and willingness to help in any manner have endeared her to the local population.
Ellen Anderson picks up her mail at the Woody Creek post office even though there’s a closer post office to her home.
“I like to come to the Woody Creek post office to stay connected with the community and because of Sherry,” Anderson said. “She never says, ‘It’s not my job,’ but rather, ‘I’d be glad to help.’ I believe she sincerely loves her customers.”
In the summertime, Mahoney is a de facto diplomat for Woody Creek as visitors often stop in and ask about everything from directions to where the rich and famous live.
“I respect my customers’ privacy,” Mahoney said. “I’m glad to help in any way I can, but I don’t give away personal information about the people who live in this community.”
The holiday season brings the most business and workload, but it’s her favorite time to help the regulars. Sharing the holiday spirit with her customers is a bonus that goes both ways.
“I have a strong sense of pride concerning Woody Creek,” she said. “I’m a Woody Creature and proud of it. The people that come here are both my customers and my neighbors. We have such a strong community here.”
So much so that, if need be, she’s willing to take a cut in status and pay to stay at the little postal center.
The Postal Service is reviewing post offices across the country like Woody Creek — small, rural, and not always profitable — and has been adjusting the hours they are open rather than closing them. If Woody Creek would change from an eight-hour office to six or less, Mahoney would have to take a job at another facility to maintain her current compensation level.
One of her friends suggested she compete for the postmaster position in Snowmass, but like most other small post offices, the uncertainty is similar to Woody Creek.
“The Postal Service is seeing some tough times,” said Colorado postal spokesman David Rupert. “We don’t get tax money for our operations, so we have to be efficient. Everyone who has a budget knows the dollar doesn’t stretch like it used to, so we have to be lean and smart about how we manage our services. One thing we are committed to is serving every American and especially those in our small towns, like Woody Creek.”
After taking some time to consider the move, Mahoney decided to stay at Woody Creek, where she treats each customer like an old friend, greeting them warmly with a smile and an offer of help.
It may mean a loss of pay and status, but it keeps her working in a place where she’s comfortable and appreciated.
“My real family is still in England,” Mahoney said. “So now the Woody Creek community is my family. That’s exactly how I feel about the people that come to this post office. They make me feel wanted.”
Several customers acknowledged that there’s usually no rush to get in and out of the Woody Creek post office. The vibe is comfortable, as neighbors tend to greet one another there and chat.
Even four-legged customers enjoy this particular post office, as Mahoney keeps her bowl of treats handy. One local likes to bring his three dogs when he gets his mail, and the canines line up politely to catch treats that Mahoney likes to toss to them.
“Sherry is the epitome of a public servant,” Anderson said. “She’s a combination of professionalism with compassion. That’s what a public servant should be.”
“You don’t hear the term ‘public servant’ often these days,” Rupert said. “But Sherry is a great representative of this institution that predates the very founding of our country. Our employees are part of the communities they serve. We take our position in the communities we serve very seriously.”