Image above: Millicent "Penny" Allison, cashier at the NASA Langley cafeteria, gets a hug
from one of her customers, Jeff Balla, Advanced Sensing and Optical Measurements Branch.
Penny is quick with a smile and a kind word of encouragement to the customers during lunch time. Credit: NASA/Sean Smith.
Millicent Allison, better known as “Penny,” is well-known to anyone eating in the cafeteria at NASA Langley.
She’s been working there for 18 years.
“I know a lot of first names,” said Allison. Most people refer to her as “Miss Penny.”
“Penny” is a nickname that has stuck with her from childhood. Janet Jackson played a character on the show “Good Times,” named Millicent who earned the nickname of “Penny” from “cent” being a part of her first name.
“But I have no idea why people call me ‘Miss’ Penny,” she said.
“People at work always ask me if I ever complain,” she said. “I do complain. They just catch me on my good days.”
The road hasn’t always been easy for Allison, but she is grateful for her job and her life. “God is good,” Allison said.
After graduating from Hampton High School, Allison spent two years in a homeless shelter.
“I appreciate things more now,” she said while organizing the silverware in the cafeteria.
“You have to learn to crawl before you can walk,” Allison said.
She is thankful to her boss, Donis Anders, because after Allison began having trouble with her legs, she became a cashier so she could continue working and spend less time on her feet.
Allison loves her job, mostly because of the people. “I have beautiful, wonderful customers,” she said. “There are so many sweet people on center.”
Her customers think highly of her as well. When Allison was in a car accident, a group got together and donated more than $1,000 to help her purchase a new car.
“It says a lot about the type of people who work here,” she said. “They can come together and do great things for people. They care.”
Allison enjoys going to church and spending time with her family.
She also likes to spend time with her friends who gather each summer for a “ya-ya party.”
“We like to go back down memory lane,” Allison said.
And looking toward the future she said, “I want to learn more about the Lord, treat people better and live long enough to see my granddaughters graduate from high school.”
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