Chris DeaverMay I introduce you to the Patron of the Lawns here at Sunnyside?
Christopher L. Deavers, Groundskeeper in the Building and Grounds Department, is the lead of mowing crew. He reports to Rob Cook, Maintenance Supervisor, who reports to Robert Shenk. Chris has been working for Sunnyside for four years now. He recalled he came across an ad in the newspaper for a groundskeeper at Sunnyside and applied for the job.
He already had a lot of experience from having his own landscaping company for several years. In addition to his landscaping experience, Chris ran heavy equipment for six or seven years. He has always enjoyed being outside. He acknowledged that it did get “hard on the body,” and switched to landscaping, learning as he went. But he had forgotten about applying for the job when six or eight weeks later, Robert called him for an interview. He said he could tell that Robert is a really good man; you can see it just from talking to him for a few minutes. He wanted to work for him, and Sunnyside seemed to be a really good place to be.
Chris says he is a local boy, born and raised in Rockingham. He lives on a back-country road named Family Tree Lane. No, he is not joking; it really is all family. Although he has traveled all over the continental United States, visiting every state, Rockingham is home. He has never lived anywhere else. I did not ask, but I am willing to bet that he intends to keep it that way! However, he does see a trip to Hawaii in his future, once the kids are grown.
Chris has been married to Jessica for 20 years and has one son, Brian, and a 12-year-old daughter Kaitlin, who goes by Katie. Brian is also a groundskeeper here at Sunnyside and Chris is proud of him, describing him as a very good worker who knows what he is doing. He recalled that, when Brian graduated from high school, Sunnyside needed summer help (all that lawn!) and Brian needed some direction. Chris put a “bug in Robert’s ear” that he had someone who could go to work without a lot of training.
Chris sees the groundskeeper’s job as taking care of the grounds so they look the best they can with the number of people they have. One thing about Chris is that he knows how to get the best out of that huge lawnmower you see him driving. Sometime, stop and take a look at the patterns he weaves in the grass!
During his time here, Chris has always been a groundskeeper. He spends the majority of his time mowing in the summer and doing snow removal in the winter. He recalled they would sometimes work all night long keeping the roads and drives clear. He did not find it too physically demanding, but said that it could be hard mentally.
Chris enjoys working at Sunnyside. He likes the atmosphere, talking to people and helping them. He notes that he tends to be a “yes” person and will generally say yes, even when he is supposed to say no. He is an outdoor person who enjoys making something look nice. He says if he can drive by and see what he has mowed, he likes to know that it looks good.
He would like to see Sunnyside expand. Not that he wants more work, but he knows there is a growing need for places like Sunnyside. His philosophy is that you are either growing or shrinking, and he wants to see growth. He commented that Sunnyside has a good program to grow and expand.
Chris says the downside of working at Sunnyside is the loss of residents. He recognizes that folks are moving toward the end of their lives. When he develops relationships with them, it’s hard. He says part of what he enjoys in his job is seeing residents in their yards and talking with them, getting to know them. He misses people when they are no longer where you know them to be.
Chris appreciates working for Sunnyside. He could only speak to Buildings and Grounds, working with a great boss, who is very straight forward. He notes that Robert expects a lot from his employees, but is also understanding of their capabilities and what they have to do. He says that Robert and Rob have a personal interest in their employees and will work with them, no matter what else is going on. They understand the workers, and that makes it good. His philosophy is that, if you have a good boss who makes you want to work, that is a good place to be. He smiles and says, “I really enjoy my job, always have.” -- Kat Marlowe -- Photos: Mary Rouse