More than Cleaning

Custodial Staff Fosters Positive Environment

By Janet Herin

Custodial staff in front of Bell Tower

Top back row left to right: Alfredo Dadacay, Michael Bianchi, David Mann, Martin Ruiz, Joseph Mendez, John Yanez, Sergio Tafolla Sr.;
Middle row left to right: Hector Bañuelos, Manny Hernandez, Ruby Morado, Gloria Martinez;
Front row left to right: Chris Yanez, Eric Arteaga, Allen Santos, Luz Tapia

CI custodial staff members keep classrooms and restrooms tidy, come to the rescue when there’s a spill or leak and support special events on campus. They perform their jobs well and also add value well beyond their ability to sweep, scrub and mop.

“We want to provide the best possible environment for the best quality learning experience,” said Raudel Bañuelos, Director of Facility Support, who leads the 28-member team and has supported the site for 34 years—long before its association with the University. “Environment and learning go hand in hand.”

For the custodial staff, creating a supportive environment encompasses taking personal responsibility for safety, embracing opportunities to collaborate with other departments and making positive contributions to campus life.

The group’s efforts earn high and frequent praise from CI President Rush. “Our custodians support everything we do here,” he said. “Many wonderful things happen because of these dedicated individuals.”

They routinely help students recover lost items, including money, cell phones, laptops, glasses and jewelry. Hector Bañuelos, who mentors kids in his free time, helped a distressed student who had lost a wedding band. Together, they painstakingly retraced the man’s steps and, eventually, found the ring in a trash can.

Gloria Martinez occasionally encounters a student having a difficult day and does what she can to offer support. “Recently, there was a girl crying in one of the bathroom stalls,” she said. “I waited around a little in case she wanted to talk.”

Recognition, appreciation and the opportunity to work on the beautiful CI campus are among the many things that inspire the staff to perform at a high level.

“People here are very friendly, and they appreciate your work,” said Joseph Mendez. “It’s gratifying. I also enjoy the (Ventura) Corporate Games event each year. You get to know people in other departments and compete against local companies. It builds camaraderie.”

Chris Yanez agrees. “Everyone is on the same level,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what group you interact with. Everything is a team effort. That’s one of the great things about working here.”

Relationships among the custodial staff are strong, too. “We get along really well,” said Gloria Martinez. “I miss them when I’m on vacation.” Bañuelos nodded and said, “We have some fantastic cooks in our group, and we have a good time. We ‘break bread’ together. That’s why they’re so special. This doesn’t happen everywhere.”

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© Spring 2014 / Volume 18 / Number 1

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