A Simple Surprise to Say Thanks

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Steven Norris
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First-year students band together to thank custodial staff

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First-year students band together to thank custodial staff in their residence hall.

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  • A Simple Surprise to Say Thanks A Simple Surprise to Say Thanks
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  • A Simple Surprise to Say Thanks A Simple Surprise to Say Thanks
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  • A Thank You for Valerie A Thank You for Valerie
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The Georgia Tech community has risen to the challenges of Covid-19. It hasn’t always been easy, but through the uncertainty, moments of togetherness and true Georgia Tech spirit have shone through.

Sometimes that spirit is shown simply by saying thanks, to some of the people who have been working hardest during this public health crisis — Georgia Tech’s custodial staff.

“It has meant so much to us as first-years to be able to come to campus,” explains computer science major Nathaniel Greve. “In this new chapter where health and sanitation have been elevated to a new meaning, many have yet to realize who this has affected the most: our custodians.”

Greve got together with the other residents on his floor in Fitten Hall on West Campus to come up with a way to thank a Tech staff member for helping to make sure health and safety protocols were being maintained in their building. He says they quickly realized they would be seeing their custodian, Valerie, every morning and noticed how kind and attentive she was.

“Many of the staff on campus have taken on additional responsibilities to ensure the students at Georgia Tech are protected. We began discussing how we could give a thank you to Valerie for being so personable, caring, and hard-working,” said Neil Jackson, a mechanical engineering major.

Greve and Jackson started designing a surprise decoration for Valerie’s door. After classes, the two developed a design and worked on the pieces separately.

“Once we had the pieces together, several of the guys on the floor helped arrange everything and fasten them to her door,” Jackson explained.

They animated Valerie as a superhero combating a virus. Emblazoned above the art was "A Custodian is not just a Noble Title, it's a Post-Apocalyptic, Virus Smashin’, COVID Bustin’, Survival Skill." They decorated the custodial supply closet during the night to surprise Valerie the next day.

A simple surprise and show of appreciation turned into a very touching moment, captured on video.

“I began to explain that she had a lot of work to do and that we as students wouldn't be able to be on campus without her,” Greve said. Valerie told them no one had ever done anything like that for her before.

The pictures and video shared on group chats and social media prompted the other floors to do the same thing for Valerie. Messages like "We're Coco-NUTS about you!" and “Valerie, you're a SUPERSTAR, you are OUT OF THIS WORLD."

The hall has also shared letters of appreciation and other tokens of their appreciation. They’ve also pledged to help keep each other accountable for maintaining their own cleanliness to make Valerie’s job a little bit easier.

“They are indeed the real heroes for stepping up to make this year possible for us students,” Jackson said. Greve agrees.

“While some may be disappointed about the current situation, the easiest and most direct thing we can do to create positive change is to show gratitude, understanding, and compassion for others when caring matters most,” he said.

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  • Created By: Steven Norris
  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created On: Sep 3, 2020 - 2:49pm
  • Last Updated: Sep 7, 2020 - 1:08pm