Have you ever wondered how the community rooms around campus get set up for events? Or how the bathrooms in the various buildings become clean overnight? Or how the furniture in the multiple study and sitting areas gets wiped down?
These tasks wouldn’t get done if it wasn’t for Lori Bonnema, head custodian at Northwestern, along with her fellow custodians and work-study students.
On a typical day, Bonnema starts off by opening closets for her work-study students who vacuum in various buildings on campus. Then, she goes through the buildings to clean bathrooms and wipe down furniture. All of this is done before campus becomes busy with students and faculty members.
At the end of this school year, Bonnema will have been a part of NW’s custodial staff for 10 years. She was hired to be one of NW’s custodians after being laid off from her previous job. Bonnema heard about the open position from a friend, decided to apply and was hired shortly after.
The most challenging part of her job is setting up the Vogel Room in the Dewitt Learning Commons with whatever chairs and tables are needed for numerous meetings and events.
“There’s so many things going in and out of there, and making sure everyone’s content can be challenging,” Bonnema said.
She also mentioned that cleaning dorm rooms during the summer is a large project to take on, and it comes with its challenges. However, Bonnema has help from students who are hired for the summer as well as some others.
Bonnema loves having the opportunity to work with students who are hired to help clean as well as other students she interacts with on campus. She looks forward to seeing NW’s students every day and being able to greet them and visit with them.
“You guys [the students] become a part of us, and we adopt you,” Bonnema said.
She also appreciates the other custodial staff members she works with and enjoys getting to work with them on a daily basis.
“The students are my favorite part of the day,” Bonnema said. “I haven’t had a day where I dreaded coming to work.”
Bonnema comes from a family of Dordt supporters, but over the years, she and her family have also become NW supporters. When it comes to what makes NW unique from other schools, Bonnema commented on how NW continues to be a Christ-centered institution. As a college, we put an emphasis on “walking the faith.”
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the custodial staff’s cleaning routine and regimen has changed quite a bit. They now make sure to wear gloves and face masks at all times when they’re cleaning. There has also been a change to the mixture and type of chemicals used in order to ensure that surfaces are not contaminated.
They currently are and will continue to be busy cleaning and sanitizing the dorms and other buildings on campus.
“The CDC is telling us what we’re supposed to be doing,” Bonnema said. “[We’re] trying to make sure every dorm room is sanitized right.”
When you see Bonnema and her co-workers again, show them some appreciation for all the work they are doing to keep NW’s campus clean and healthy.