by Heidie Raine, Student Public Relations Writer
Cedarville University has offered entirely in-person classes during the 2020-2021 academic year thanks to many people: administrators, students, faculty, and staff. However, this success is also the result of the hard work and dedication of one group of mainly behind-the-scenes servant-leaders: Cedarville’s custodians.
Cedarville’s custodial teams have undergone significant shifts in their work this year, following the lead of their facility services provider, Witt, Fiala, and Flannery (WFF).
These adjustments include additional education and training, utilizing extra personal protective equipment, following a newly developed decontamination process, and increasing previously one-stop cleaning rounds to upward of four times a day.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has added a huge stress level to our custodial teams,” Charles Reese, WFF director of custodial services, said. “In addition to the extra work, a lot of us have had loved ones pass away from the pandemic.”
To thank these committed individuals, four English majors organized a gratitude initiative for the university’s custodial teams. Ashley Riddle, a senior from Cresaptown, Maryland; Maddie Heck, a sophomore from Williamsburg, Ohio; Grace Mowery, a sophomore from Cleveland, Tennessee; and Callie Schaden, a sophomore from Huntsburg, Ohio, collaborated on the project.
Riddle first thought of the idea while brainstorming for her semester-long project in Career Development for the English Major, a new class focused on preparing English majors for life after commencement. When she found others who were also passionate about thanking the custodial staff, they formed a group and started working.
The students began by creating oversized construction paper thank-you cards for the custodial staff who serve each residence hall on campus, as well as those who oversee Tyler Digital Communication Center, Williams Hall, and Ambassadors Hall. These cards were left in the English lounge located in upper Williams Hall, and students were invited to sign the cards, leaving messages of encouragement and thankfulness.
In addition to the cards, each custodian also received an individually wrapped sugar cookie from Schuler’s Bakery in Springfield, Ohio, as a token of gratitude.
“It means the world to us,” Reese said. “In the custodial world, we really appreciate the gratitude — the simple thank-yous — people offer us. The pandemic has changed our role from cleaning to cleaning to save lives. It is so encouraging to hear the gratitude of those we’re working for.”
“We realize that students have been handling a lot because of COVID, but we wanted to recognize the custodians, who are going through much more,” Mowery added. “They’ve been coming into the dorms, following new and strict cleaning regulations, and putting in loads of extra work. We want them to know we’re appreciative for all that they do.”
Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University is an accredited, Christ-centered, Baptist institution with an enrollment of 4,550 undergraduate, graduate, and online students in more than 150 areas of study. Founded in 1887, Cedarville is one of the largest private universities in Ohio, recognized nationally for its authentic Christian community, rigorous academic programs, including the Bachelor of Arts in English program, strong graduation, and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings, and high student engagement ranking. For more information about the University, visit cedarville.edu.