First impressions are important. You've heard it before. This edition of Pay It 4ward features a recipient who is in charge of first impressions at a local hospital.
Lovelace Westside Hospital - concrete, glass and stone on the outside.
On the inside, right when you come in, the undeniable warmth and irresistible sense of humor of retired nurse Mary Wentz emanates.
Bobby Jo Trujillo nominated Mary, who's a volunteer greeter and guide at the hospital.
"She's the first person people see when they come in," Trujillo said. "I don't know who could fill her shoes. We need her help."
Mary is 83 and legally blind because of macular degeneration.
"She also doesn't drive," Trujillo said. "She depends on public transportation to get here."
She says Mary's never late - almost always early.
"She does not have to be here until 8 a.m. She's here before 7 a.m."
So who else finds the 83-year-old volunteer exceptional?
"Everyone," Trujillo said. "You say, 'Mary,' and the first thing out of their mouth is, 'I love Mary. That's our Mary.' Yeah, that's our Mary. We all love her."
I saw that love when we gathered to surprise Mary with $400 I gave to Trujillo earlier. Out of every room came people wanting to cheer her on.
"Mary, you have my heart," Trujillo said. "You are awesome and we want to show our appreciation for your countless hours of dedicated work. I want to pay it forward to you. I want to give you $400."
"Oh no!" Mary exclaimed. "These are my bus tickets!"
"I love you all," she continued.
In a resounding chorus, the surrounding crowd echoed the sentiment.
"We love you Mary."
Mary lost her husband to ALS -Lou Gehrig's Disease - a while back. She says she's going to donate half of her money to the ALS Foundation.
If you'd like to nominate someone like Mary for Pay It 4ward, click here.
Click here to watch the video.