They take our orders, they scan our cards, and they make our food in times of both stress and leisure. Often they already know what we’re going to order, and if they get it wrong, they’re never far off the mark. But what do we know about the Hub night shift workers? For starters, their names are Vanessa Romero and Shelly Grotenhuis.
Vanessa Romero is originally from Pasadena, Calif. Vanessa was working for a telephone company in Las Vegas, Nev., when she was suddenly left jobless when the company was bought out. Her transition to Orange City was facilitated by her brother-in-law, who had been living in the area. He convinced Vanessa and her fiancé to give it a shot. “When we got off the plane in Omaha, we only had whatever was in our bags,” Vanessa said. “Now we have a house; it’s furnished. We have our own belongings, and despite the lower pay than the telephone company, I get to go to school here for a much lower price than what education would have cost in Vegas.”
Vanessa lives with her fiancé and their two 13-year-old twins, Victor and Victoria, who both attend MOC-Floyd Valley Middle School and are in the eighth grade. Currently, she is studying at Northwest Iowa Community College (NCC) and has hopes of returning to Las Vegas to earn a nursing degree. On her days off, she enjoys cooking, shopping and, most of all, family time with the kids.
Going into her fifth year of working at the Hub in the RSC, Vanessa has aspects she loves and dislikes about her job. “When the customers are unfriendly, it’s a little difficult for me, so I just smile hoping that brightens them up,” Vanessa said. “The best thing is me working here and asking all the students how their day went even if they had a rough one. I like seeing their faces. It’s the only reason I work here; it’s because of you guys.”
Shelly Grotenhuis is more of a “behind-the-scenes” worker at the Hub. Although she’ll occasionally ring up students at the register, she’s usually in the back making food. Born in Alton, Shelly is a former student of Northwestern College. After two years of studying at NW, she decided that she wasn’t ready for college and became a live-in nanny through a nanny agency in Minneapolis.
The agency sent her to families in three different states before she returned to Orange City to work at the Hub three years ago. Prior to the Hub, Shelly had worked a year in the food service industry so it was a natural transition for her.
Shelly’s immediate family still lives in Alton, and her grandfather is here in town. It’s her third year working on campus, but she is also a junior high substitute teacher in Sioux Center and at MOC-FV. One of her future goals is to start a teaching career.
In her free time, Shelly likes to read, bake and engage in Disney trivia via the Internet against people on Tuesday nights at the Hub from 8-9 p.m.
Echoing Vanessa, Shelly said, “We have fun with students getting to know them when they come in to eat.”