“We feel like we build relationships with students. We say ‘hi’ to them in the morning or ‘good luck on your test’ or ‘good luck at football.’ … We show them we care.”
– Kim Roorda
By the time most faculty and staff members arrive to work, or students wake just before that 8 a.m. class, Central College’s facilities team has been hard at work for hours.
Their job is to make Central a safe place to live, study and work. They keep Central’s campus beautiful. They keep it clean and sanitized. And they do it mostly behind the scenes.
“There’s a lot of pride in what we do,” says Trisha Van Wyk, a custodian and team leader with facilities management. “Central is pretty well known for being a clean campus and we don’t want that to change.”
Changes, however, are here. As a precautionary measure because of the COVID-19 pandemic, more stringent cleaning routines are the norm. To limit the spread and impact of the coronavirus, Central’s facilities management team has adjusted cleaning protocols following recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Everything has changed a bit,” says Kim Roorda, another custodian and team leader with facilities management, “because the health and safety of the campus community is the highest priority.”
Central’s cleaning crew always has gone above and beyond.
In residence hall rooms, they clean everything from toilets to showers while restocking toilet paper and emptying trash. They thoroughly clean classrooms, including desks and tables. They make the gym floor shine. They make common areas the perfect place to relax or study.
They vacuum, mop, scrub and, on top of all that, offer friendly smiles to students, employees and visitors as well.
“I don’t like messes,” says Olga Saoutina-Crumes, a custodian and team leader. “I believe in a clean environment and I’m proud I can provide a clean space everyone can enjoy.”
The 50 employees who make up the facilities department are an essential part of the Central community and Central family. They interact with students, faculty and staff, building those lasting relationships that make Central such a special place.
Take a look at some familiar faces:
Title: Custodian/Team Leader
Hometown: Baxter, Iowa
City: Pella, Iowa
Time at Central: Seven years
Kim Roorda and her team take care of Maytag Student Center, Central Hall and Scholte Hall, a coed residence hall.
The latter, Roorda feels, gives her team a unique opportunity some of the other facilities and cleaning teams don’t get. They get to interact with students daily.
“We’re one of the lucky teams,” she says. “We feel like we build relationships with students. We say ‘hi’ to them in the morning or ‘good luck on your test’ or ‘good luck’ at football.’ We always communicate with them. If we treat them with respect, they’ll do the same back. We show them we care.”
Roorda and her team work from 4 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., starting with Maytag and Central Hall before moving to Scholte just in time to see many students waking up. Her team is responsible for cleaning the residence hall rooms, bathrooms, showers, common areas and more.
“I think it’s really clean at this college,” Roorda says. “And we’re really proud of Scholte.”
Roorda has been at Central for seven years. “It’s like a second home,” she says. And it’s the kids and those relationships that keep her here.
“For the most part, it’s about them,” she says. “We want them to come here and we’ll take care of them.”
Title: Custodian/Team Leader
Hometown: Moscow, Russia
City: Oskaloosa, Iowa
Time at Central: 16 years
Where exactly is she from?
It’s a game Olga Saoutina-Crumes likes to play when she meets someone.
It’s Russia, and her accent likely gives it away. Moscow to be exact. But she has called the United States home for the better part of two decades now, including 16 years at Central.
“I love Central,” she says. “I love the people with whom I work. The people here are wonderful. They’re easy to work with and easy to communicate with. I just feel secure at Central.”
It’s her job to make others feel safe and secure here as well. She and her team are responsible for Graham Annex, Graham Conference Center and Jordan Hall.
Jordan Hall is full of classrooms, while the other two buildings often are used for events on campus. She and her team clean up the morning after those events, working 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
“Some people are very thankful,” she says. “We always appreciate it when they say thank you.”
Saoutina-Crumes laughs when she says, “I don’t like messes.” In her profession, that’s a good thing.
Whatever happens with COVID-19, she and her team will be ready, willing and able to provide the best for anyone setting foot on Central’s campus.
Title: Custodian/Team Leader
Hometown: Sully, Iowa
City: Lynnville, Iowa
Time at Central: 15 years
The summer of 2020 was quiet for Trisha Van Wyk and her team. One of their main responsibilities is the athletics facilities at Central.
They help clean and maintain the A.N. Kuyper Athletics Complex, including P.H. Kuyper Gymnasium and the H.S. Kuyper Fieldhouse. Her team also is responsible for the Helen Jean Hislop Center, which houses many of the exercise science classrooms.
When classes are in session, the athletics facilities are some of the busiest places at Central.
“We really like the people in our buildings,” Van Wyk says. “We get along really well with the coaches. It’s nice talking to them, nice seeing them, nice getting to know them. We have some pretty good people to deal with.”
Van Wyk has been at Central for 15 years. She echoes the sentiment of many others when asked what keeps her here.
“A lot of it is the people I work with,” she says. “We all get along really well.”
With those people in mind, Van Wyk and her team now clean high-touch areas and classrooms more often. She knows a lot of the work she and her team do goes unnoticed. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t valued.
“I think people are thinking about it more, but we feel pretty appreciated in our buildings,” she says. “There’s a lot of pride in that. Pella is a clean community and Central wants to share in that.”