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Story Behind North Hall’s Housing Staff: Our Second Moms

Most of us live in the residence halls here on campus, but we probably don’t really pay attention to the work and dedication that goes into keeping our dorms livable. While we go about our daily lives, there are housing staff who vacuum, dust, mop, sanitize, and wash every square inch of our buildings. In North Halls, and specifically Beam, the gap between the workers and students is closer than anywhere else. Meet Monica, one half of the tag team who keeps Beam Halls running in tip top shape.

  smoothie party

When I went down to the housing staff’s break room to meet with Monica, I stumbled upon a full fledged smoothie party.

See, the housing staff in North does more than just clean up after us messy students. They take care of us. Monica immediately offered me a tropical fruit smoothie, and her seat. As she set up the blender, I sat down and asked her what a normal day being one of the North Hall housing ladies is like. “Do you want an easy day, or a hard day?,” she asked me, while loading fruit and yogurt into the blender. I asked to hear both. It turns out, a normal day consists of: trash duty, dust mopping the floors, sweeping the stairs, cleaning the water fountains, using the floor cleaning machines, cleaning the public bathrooms, the entry ways, and the elevators. And this is an easy day.

Taken aback a the amount of work I hesitated when I asked what a hard day looked like. According to Monica, a hard day is whenever it is Kathy and her turn to drive the trash truck, and take all the trash from each hall in North to the dumpster. They also have to clean our own personal bathrooms, since North is set up in individual suites consisting of 4 people per suite, a common room, and a bathroom. All of this is on top of the normal duties of an easy day. So you can see just how much work goes into just one day.

But, that’s not the reason Monica comes in to work every day. To her and Kathy, the best part about working in Beam hall are the kids. “There are just so many good kids here,” Monica explained. She says she calls all the students “kids” because we’re about the same age as her own children.

Thursday in Beam Hall is known as Ice Cream Day or sometimes, like today, Smoothie Day. Everyone in our hall knows that if you are hungry or just need someone to talk to, Monica and Kathy are always there to listen. Mackenzie Mager, one of the students I found already hanging out in the break room, told me that a lot of the guys on her floor were sick last week, so Monica and Kathy made them chicken noodle soup. “They’re always taking care of us,” she told me. “They’re like our second mom’s.” Monica and Kathy even watch Mackenzie’s fish Bruiser when she goes away on breaks.

However the kids don’t take the attention for granted. Monica went on to say that “we feel appreciated,” and told me stories of all the nice things students living here do for them in return. For example, when the elevator was broken down for a couple of days, students helped them carry their cleaning supplies to each floor. Monica also told me the time when one girl came to visit and Kathy noticed she didn’t have any gloves. When she found out the girl had lost them, she brought in two pairs for her the next day. Monica said Kathy brought in the extra pair because “they matched the girl’s coat.”

I ended up staying and talking to Monica and Mackenzie for almost an hour. We talked about school, seasonal allergies, and about Monica’s singing career. She told us that she had just tried out for The Voice, and although she didn’t get in, it was a great life experience. While we talked, I looked around the break room, noticing the intricate decorations and personal touches the two have made over the years. The room is so cozy (“Kathy’s the decorator,” Monica explained) with framed pictures and inspirational quotes covering the walls. The chairs are cushion-y and warm — the perfect atmosphere to escape from your school work load and just relax.

Whether it’s filling up the snack table outside of the break room with delicious and free treats, or even a simple “Hello honey!” in the hallway when you’re on the way to class, these two definitely bring a smile to Beam Hall residents on a daily basis. And, even though Monica acknowledged that they don’t like the recognition because that’s not why they do what they do, I believe that they both deserve some. So thank you Monica and Kathy. Thank you for cleaning up our messes and treating us like your own. And the next time you see your own housing staff cleaning the stairs or wiping up the floor, give them a simple “thank you”  — they definitely deserve it.

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About the Author

Catie Simpson

Catie is a junior majoring in Human Development and Family Studies. She's also the resident townie and culinary enthusiast due to a brief stint at the CIA (the culinary school not the secret government agency). She currently works at a Baby Temperament Lab on campus where she tries to get babies to do dangerous things. She's also on the twitter.

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Staff Picks: Grabbing A Drink With A Prominent Penn Stater

If you had the chance to hear about Penn State from (or throw down at a State College bar for a night with) some of its most prominent figures, who would you want to grab a beer with?

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