‘My happy place’: Madison Smith thrives in WPS warehouse

By Jessica Brooks

To say that my mood and spirit were lifted immediately after meeting Madison Smith, who works as warehouse support, would be quite an understatement. I had the privilege of meeting someone who loves what she does, genuinely loves people, and wants to help anyone she can. I cannot wait to tell you about her and the work she does with her team here at WPS Health Solutions!

WPS partners with Feist Vocational Counseling and Placement. Feist works with individuals with disabilities on job placements and opportunities. Madison graduated from Edgewood College with a teaching assistant degree. After a couple of different placements that didn't quite fit what she was looking for, Madison landed in the WPS warehouse in November 2021 as an intern, and it was a fit. Madison worked as an intern from November through March. WPS was able to hire her on after her internship ended. “I love warehouse work; I have found this is my happy place," she said.


Not only does she like it, but she is good at it. Rob Varno, Manager of the Warehouse, gave her the nickname “Eagle Eye" because she is good at noticing and catching small details. Madison added, “My parents also called me 'Sammy the Safety Seal' because I really care about safety. When I see a rope is down, I will be the first to make sure it gets put back up, as an example."

Madison has learned how to confidently operate her powered pallet jack and ride the small and the large ride-on floor scrubbers—she named the larger one “Zippy" as it is much faster than the smaller one.

The largest project Madison has worked on is helping the IT team with the deliveries and returns of all the equipment for remote employees. She said she enjoys loading all the boxes for employees.

“I like it because I like to be busy," she said. Her eagle eye comes in handy when recognizing all the IT equipment, packing it, sorting, and testing it.

Rob said, “Madison has completed an enormous amount of IT work that has allowed her to be able to easily stay on top of work-from-home kit orders. That has never been the case since the work-from-home program started during COVID-19. This was a huge hurdle we had to overcome. She has also been an integral part of the moving process."


At WPS, Madison loves the IT projects she has gotten to work on. “IT has my heart," Madison smiled. Working so closely with IT, she had some special words she asked me to include to acknowledge in appreciation of Jeff Vandenorth, Senior Systems Admin- Device Support:

“He's super hardworking, easy to talk to, always kind. He's my sunshine; it would make my day for him to be appreciated," Madison said.

Rob, standing nearby, nodded his head in agreement with all the kind words Madison spoke about Jeff.


It became apparent to me that Madison and Rob are cut from the same cloth. Both have said to me, though on separate occasions, if they can help people and make other people's lives easier, they are content. That attitude radiates in their work and through their teams. This, I believe, is the reason you feel like a million bucks while you are in their company.

Outside of WPS, Madison volunteers and gives back to programs that impacted her life. She raved about Edgewood's Cutting Edge Program.

“Because of Cutting Edge and because of Edgewood College, my life is better."

She goes back to help support high schoolers visiting the campus, assist with open houses, and mentor the current students in the Cutting Edge Program.


Madison also participates in Special Olympics. She has competed in bowling and soccer, but her niche is basketball skills, which is an individual sport focusing on the skills accompanying basketball. Madison placed first at state for three years in a row! Although she has taken a short hiatus through the pandemic, she told me she might be ready to pick up basketball skills again.


Tina Wallace, Director of Talent Acquisition, said WPS is very fortunate to have such a strong partnership with Feist. Together, WPS and Feist are making dreams come true for individuals who, on their own, may be unable to achieve. She said, “We started our partnership with Feist Vocational Counseling and Placement in October of 2020. This organization supports individuals with developmental disabilities gain skills tailored to their individual career goals since they may differ from other graduates."

“We reached out to Rob Varno in the Records Warehouse, and he was interested in working with an intern. This turned out to be very successful. This was so successful that the program is now in its second year," Tina explained.


I want to thank Madison and Rob for giving me a grand tour of Tradewinds, the new WPS facility, and showing me all the work they do.