Chances are if you call the Church's membership and statistical records division to find out what ward you belong to, you will be greeted by the patient, gentle voice of Georgia E. Burraston.
And after 40 years experience working with members' records, she will likely be able to give you the information you need. She started her first day at work Nov. 15, 1951, at age 22, in what was then called the membership records division of the Church. Now 62, she has routed thousands of members' records throughout the world, and she has entered or updated many others - first with a pen dipped in an inkwell, and now on a computer screen. She has worked in records during the administrations of five Church presidents.Throughout these years, Sister Burraston of the Eighteenth North Ward, Salt Lake Eagle Gate Stake, has held many responsibilities, but she considers her main purpose "to help people who need help in a courteous manner."
Courtesy is her trademark. Her supervisor, Ben Donoho, manager of the organization information section, where Sister Burraston works, said, "Her 40 years of service tell you about her dedication and consistency. Her gentle manner has charmed a lot of fellow employees over the years. Georgia is a conscientious, dependable employee who is a friend to everyone."
Her demeanor portrays these attributes. The 5-foot records expert flashes a quick, shy smile during conversations. Her humility and willingness to be of service are apparent whenever someone, whether a colleague or a member calling on her telephone line, requests help.
And she has helped in many different ways through the years. She related how in earlier days, before the age of computers, Church units kept membership records on white cards, while Church headquarters kept such records on green cards. She said that when a membership clerk sent in an updated white membership card, she would pull the member's green card and update it by hand.
Today, Sister Burraston thinks computers are "wonderful . . . so much faster. If there's any updating of membership records, the membership processing department just makes new records, rather than update old ones."
When she started work in 1951, she didn't expect to be around to see such vast changes. "The time has gone by quite fast," she said.
Sister Burraston has been working in the organization information section of membership records since 1965. The section was then called the boundaries and directories group. Here she helps members who want to know to what ward or branch they belong, and she helps route records to members' new bishops or branch presidents. She also helps members in need of welfare services contact ecclesiastical leaders.
For the first several years that Sister Burraston was in this section, she was the only one answering telephone calls. But as Church membership increased, so did the ringing of the telephones. Others joined her in answering the calls. Many callers and fellow employees have benefited from Sister Burraston's helpful attitude, fostering many friendships and creating many memories.
She explained that her "one greatest joy" in her 40 years working with membership has been the friends she has gained. She learned firsthand, but in an unfortunate way, just how well thought of she is after she was hit by a car in downtown Salt Lake City in October 1988. Many of her co-workers and friends visited her at the hospital and brought dozens of her favorite treat - cookies.