Building and Grounds-A Day in the Life of Steve and David !

You might call it 'job security.' “We never run out of things to do,” says Steve as he and co-worker, David, take a break in the meeting room at the Sunnyside maintenance office.  When an independent-living resident files a maintenance request, they (like Ghostbusters) are the ones most likely to respond.

They start each day with the pile of maintenance requests that administrative assistant Kella Cook has compiled and then prioritized, responding to the most urgent problems, such as heating and cooling issues or water leaks first, and then moving through the list as the day goes on.  Meanwhile, they can also be called at any time during the day if an emergency arises.

“We might get 18 calls (requests) in a day,” Steve says, noting that some might take only a few minutes, like changing light bulbs, while others, like replacing an appliance, can take awhile.  Most problems are pretty routine – stopped-up sinks, moving furniture, checking out an appliance.  But they’ve also had to deal with bees in the summer and the occasional black snake that gets into a bird house.

Probably the most unusual situation, Steve says, is when a feral cat got loose in a resident’s house and “definitely didn’t want to be caught.”

And then there’s winter.  “When the snow comes, you may be here from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., unless you’ve got an emergency,” Steve says.  David notes that last year, he was here from Friday to Tuesday during one bad storm.  “The worse thing was getting up on roofs to make sure snow didn’t cover up vents to heaters,” he says.  He and other staff stay in vacant houses or apartments when they have to remain overnight.

Steve normally works weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., “unless something comes up.”  David has an unusual schedule, working a 12-hour shift for two days, then three days off, before working three days followed by two days off.  “You kind of lose track of what day of the week it is,” he says of the arrangement.  

Steve has been working at Sunnyside for 16 years.  Before then, he was an electrician “wiring houses and stuff” for a company until “I just got tired of doing that” and decided to come here when a job came open.  He started out mowing until the Glen and Villas were constructed, when he moved into maintenance work.  Steve says he likes the variety of things to do here each day and the job is close to where he lives and also where he grew up.  He has three children in their late teens and early 20s and serves as a high school football referee in the fall.  “Sometimes you think it’s the NFL,” he says of officiating at the games.

David, who grew up in Elkton and now lives near Shenandoah, has been working at Sunnyside for only one and one-half years.  He formerly worked as a shift supervisor in a production plant and then went into the lawn-care business.  He says he enjoys meeting and talking with residents and in his spare time likes to do landscaping or go fishing.  He has three children, twin girls and a boy.

With break time coming to an end, David notes, “We’ve got a stopped-up sink to go fix now.”

Steve and David are among 16 employees in the Buildings and Grounds Department directed by Robert Shenk.