Small Group housekeeping sadly prepares to disband

Nicole Stempak

From left: Residence Services employees Katrina Lawrence, Wad-Chiu Lai, Mary Tassone, Mike DiPaola, Donna England, Fred Boggs and Karla Dohse along with (not pictured) Debbie Parker, Kathy Schumann, Linda Whittelsey and Terri Maxwell were the housekeepers

Credit: DKS Editors

Six housekeepers, one crew leader and one housekeeping supervisor gathered in the break room of McSweeney Hall Thursday morning. They have been removing any cleaning supplies and personal belongings out of Small Group.

Laughter erupted as the staff reflected on their memories of the Small Group residence halls. Tears flowed as they thought of what will happen in the days to come.

In the spring, Residence Services decided to demolish eight of the 11 Small Group residence halls and move First Year Experience to Eastway.

None of the eight Small Group housekeepers will be laid off. They will be reassigned to different residence halls, most likely in the Eastway complex, housekeeping supervisor Mary Tassone said.

That still doesn’t make saying goodbye any easier for Musselman Hall housekeeper Debbie Parker.

“We built a real close-knit community here amongst ourselves – the most beautiful one here,” she said.

It’s this sense of community that separates Small Group from the other residence halls on campus, Tassone said.

“I used to explain to the parents, it’s an awesome little community because there ‘s only a handful of students in the building,” she said. “In the bigger dorms like Tri-Towers, we don’t know who all lives (there).”

The tight community formed when former housekeeping supervisor Elizabeth Mains first brought the housekeepers, who were Kent State employees, to Small Group two and a half years ago, Tassone said. Contract cleaners were previously responsible for those residence halls.

Since Mains’ passing, Tassone has assumed responsibility of Small Group.

Parker said the residence halls were “exceptionally neat” because there was only one housekeeper in each building. It is because of this that she and the other housekeepers were able to form such close relationships with the students.

“You were the only one there all day, and they came to you like a mom, and they referred to this lady as ‘Mama Donna,'” Parker said, gesturing toward Munzenmayer Hall housekeeper Donna England.

“They made me a T-shirt that said ‘Mama Donna’ on it, and then they all signed it,” England said.

She said she saw a former Altmann Hall resident who was participating in Movers and Groovers last week.

“She said she really loved being here in Small Group because it was like being in your own little community,” England said. “Everybody knew everybody, regardless of what building you were in.”

Parker said the personal problems the housekeepers faced during their time together brought them closer and are making it difficult to separate.

“I believe we’re very sentimental because we not only may split up amongst each other; we lost our boss, we lost our home,” she said, as an explanation for the tears.

Tassone said she hopes the housekeepers will find a new home in Eastway.

“(The housekeepers) know what to do with these freshmen and how to help them grow,” she said.

Contact student politics reporter Nicole Stempak

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