Special Litter Crew Praised for Keeping Campus Looking Sharp
Story by Bob Romantic
Photos by Darryl Webb
GCU News Bureau
Sheree Lloyd’s eyes light up as Lattie Malin pulls up in his landscape vehicle on the GCU campus.
“Lattie!” Lloyd exclaims.
Malin’s reaction is much the same as he greets Lloyd and the four-person garbage and litter clean-up crew from the Arizona Foundation for the Handicapped.
“They are great people,” says Malin, a landscape supervisor for GCU, after offering cold water bottles to the crew on a 100-degree day. “I love them. Every day is a good day with these people.”
That mutual affection emanates from the warmth and the smiles that Lloyd & Co. bring to work every day as they do the unheralded job of keeping the campus clean.
It may seem like tedious or tiresome work for some. But for Lloyd, it’s her chance to get out and work for a living while interacting with co-workers and expanding her experiences beyond the Arizona foundation.
“It gives them an opportunity to feel like everybody else, not singled out,” says Sheena Padia, the job coach and supervisor for the crew. “Being able to get out and interact with people in general and feeling like their job is appreciated is rewarding to them. They’ve made a lot of friends out here.”
For Grand Canyon’s part, it prides itself on having a resort-like feel to the campus, which means meticulous landscaping and grounds that are free of litter and garbage.
“That’s our goal, to get it looking it as best as we can,” said Brooks Leonard, director of facilities for GCU. “Their crew does the work that nobody else really wants to do. They keep the paper picked up and the campus looking good. I really, really rely on them to have that done.”
GCU actually contracts with Perry Rehabilitation Center, which is located in Phoenix and affiliated with AFH. The Perry center works with adults with disabilities to teach them the skills they need to become employable and independent, and places them in meaningful jobs or helps further their education.
The four-person clean-up crew from Perry consists of Lloyd, Randy Medely, Paul Weber and Irwin Neidors. Because Lloyd is the only member who is legally her own guardian, she is the only one who could be interviewed for this story.
All of the crew members have mild forms of developmental disabilities or mood disorders, Padia said. “But they are highly functional. That is why they can come out here and work. Their disabilities are minor compared to others in the center. They are able to be out more in public and interact with people.”
Padia said Lloyd is legally blind with tunnel vision. “What we see normally, she sees the size of a straw.”
But that doesn’t stop her from making her rounds on campus from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. each day, emptying garbage bags at the many receptacles on campus and helping her fellow crew members pick up trash on the grounds.
“I like being around all my friends and workers, all the guys in maintenance that we get to goof around with,” said Lloyd, 39.
Through the Perry center, Lloyd has done odd jobs in the past at several companies in metro Phoenix, including Arizona State University, Red Lobster, Southwest Gas and the city of Phoenix.
“But it’s nicer out here,” Lloyd said. “It’s a good job. It’s good pay. I get to see different people and do different things.”
What the landscape and maintenance crews see are four people with big hearts. And if that means sharing water bottles with them in the heat of the day, bringing in a birthday cake for Lloyd (as one maintenance crew member recently did) or just stopping by to say hello, they are glad to do it.
“I’ve gotten to know some of them,” Leonard said. “Randy is just a real personable guy. He’ll always ask you how you are and have a conversation with you.
“And they’re out here every day. They’re out here in the summer. … They’re doing a good service for us. It’s been a great experience as far as I’m concerned.”
Contact Bob Romantic at 639.7611 or firstname.lastname@example.org.