Feeding People in the Cold and Dark

By Stephen Butler

Remember Monday, Oct. 31? It was cold, snowy and dark. The college was closed that day. What many people may not realize is that Dining Services was running that day, feeding students, staff and faculty who were on campus, as well as people from the community who had nowhere to go and nothing to eat.

While this fact may not seem unusual, there were other factors that make this story special to me. I happened to come to work that day, because I misunderstood the closing message on the weather line. I went down to Valentine and had a nice hot meal before going home, and I was surprised to see how many families were eating at the tables. I ran into Charlie Thompson and asked him how things were going.

As he started telling me about arriving on campus at 4 a.m. in the dark and then working to get the backup generator up and running, I was impressed by the commitment of the staff who made it through the storm and left their own homes to serve food to the community here. I asked Charlie how many people were working that morning, and he told me six or seven people made it in. When I asked how many would normally be working on a regular day, he told me it might be 15 to 20. He also said that while the generator allowed the staff to run all the machines in the kitchen, it didn’t power the elevator, so all the paper goods and food had to be carried up the stairs to the servery.

I have to say, as I heard him tell the story of that morning, I was astonished that the Dining Services staff pulled it off. I think it was an impressive achievement to feed that many people with so few people doing the work behind the scenes.  I was also impressed that the meals were being provided at no charge to anyone coming in to eat and get warm.

I commend Charlie and all the Dining Services staff who made this happen on that cold, dark and snowy day, and I commend all the other Facilities staff who may have assisted behind the scenes in helping Dining Services stay open that day.

If you have seen someone on campus do something that should be recognized in the HR newsletter, please send a message to Pat Long at pflong@amherst.edu, 413-542-2372 or AC #2204.

Nor’easter Brings More Than Just Snow and Damage to Our Area

On Oct. 31, 2011, the day after the Nor’easter, Landscape and Grounds Assistant Supervisor Mark Uchneat, emailed Director of Facilities Jim Brassord to express his sincerest appreciation for Jim’s efforts in rallying students to come to the aid of the employees who had to clear the snow and attend to the tree damage. Mark stated that he was working on the quad, and the next thing he knew, there were hundreds of students coming to offer their assistance. What could have been difficult and tedious work turned out to be a day of teamwork, laughter and appreciation.  The cleanup crews couldn’t have been happier. Thanks, Jim!