To the Moon and Back … Twice … Plus 30 Miles

When Teresa Groff of Kirkwood started working for the New Providence post office in 1986, she never thought she would end up receiving one of the rarest awards from the United States Postal Service. Decades later, Groff earned the esteemed Million Mile Award, an honor given to those who have delivered mail for 30 accumulated years or driven more than 1 million miles on a route without a preventable incident.

Teresa Groff (left) was nominated for the Million Mile Award by her supervisor, Cathleen Hodgson.

“I was very surprised,” Groff said. “I guess I always try to anticipate what other people are going to do, and I don’t take a lot
of chances.”

Groff received the award in August, along with a plaque, a pin and a coat to commemorate the achievement. Cathleen Hodgson, Groff’s supervisor at the Quarryville Post Office, nominated Groff for the award after she mentioned her desire to retire soon. “I thought, ‘She’s got to qualify.’ I looked into the award and found out that she was overqualified,” Hodgson said. “She’s such a great carrier. We needed to commend her on her service.” The total distance that Groff has driven on a mail route is equal to four times the distance between Earth and the moon, plus 30 miles.

Groff worked for the post office part time for several years, as she was raising a small child and the flexible schedule allowed her to be home early in the afternoon. Groff became a full-time rural carrier associate in 2000 and came to the Quarryville Post Office after it was merged with the New Providence location. Groff acquired a new route in Quarryville five years ago, where she delivered mail before officially retiring in September. “I got to know the community better as a mail carrier,” Groff said. “You get to know lots of people and what’s going on in their lives. If something was out of the ordinary, or if someone isn’t picking up the mail because something’s wrong, you notice.”

Groff’s colleagues at the Quarryville Post Office threw a surprise retirement party for her on September 21. In a bittersweet celebration, Groff’s fellow postal workers wished her well and mourned the office’s loss of an upstanding worker. “It was a sad moment. I didn’t want to see her go, but she had put in 37 years of service,” Hodgson said. “The knowledge she provided to so many in our craft was tremendous; she always took it upon herself to take new carriers under her wing.” When Hodgson started at the post office in 2019, Groff trained her in safe and efficient practices and showed her the delivery route. Hodgson also cited Groff as her inspiration for becoming a supervisor to better understand and meet the needs of rural mail carriers.

Groff said she is kicking off her retirement with a new adventure. Her grandchild was born in August, and she looks forward to assuming the role of the little one’s babysitter once the baby’s mom goes back to work. “I’ll miss my work buddies and the people I got to know on my route,” Groff noted.

“I’ll never forget what she has done for me,” Hodgson added. “She was always willing to help anyone and to go the extra mile.”

Adrian Eschenwald writes for the community newspapers – Merchandiser, Advertiser and Pennysaver in Lancaster County – that are published by Engle Printing & Publishing. Townlively.com. 

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