One mess at a time: Custodian is passionate to serve others


Rachel Rudisill

Janitors clean building in the evening after students have left campus. Each janior is assigned a different building to clean each night.

Catherine Childs, a custodian at WSU for 22 years, has always approached the job with a positive perspective.

Childs, who is better known as Cathy or for her red hair, worked at a hospital in Winfield, Kansas when a WSU supervisor told her to apply for the position. Childs got the job in 1999, and has been an important asset to the custodial team ever since.

On a normal day, Childs works to clean and take care of an assigned building. After her assignment is taken care of, she and the rest of the team take care of any custodial problems that may arise, however intimidating the issue may be. 

“This is a difficult job,” Director of Custodial Services David Gomez said. “[Childs] never complains … She always has a good attitude. If there’s a terrible mess somewhere, she goes with a sense of purpose … and cleans it up without complaint.”

Childs applies this “can-do” attitude to more than her cleaning habits, though. Her favorite part of her job is the connections she gets to make. 

“The best part for me is [that] I get a chance to interact with a lot of people,” she said. “It’s the relationships that you form and the services that you provide.”

In one case, a car approached her on campus and the driver revealed that they were lost. After explaining their destination, Childs was able to help. 

“‘Follow me in my vehicle, I will lead you right to it,’” Childs said, recounting the event. “It’s those kinds of interactions that you really look forward to. You’re actually able to help somebody that may not be familiar with the WSU community.” 

Childs is diligent in maintaining a positive relationship with everyone around her. 

“Everyone has great things to say about her,” Gomez said. “It’s a job like any other job.

Sometimes people complain about a coworker but I’ve never had anybody say anything negative about her.” 

Childs recalls a service call in which a basement had been completely flooded after a rainstorm. She was able to stay positive, though, laughing with her coworkers. 

“I remember that we were constantly sitting there saying, ‘well, my shoes are wet. Oh, my socks are wet,’” she said. “By the time we had gotten done cleaning, the floor was dry but a lot of us went home with some wet socks.” 

Although some may think that working as a janitor is without reward, the positive interactions with others are what make the messes worthwhile for Childs. 

“You know going home that you’re providing a safe and clean environment,” she said.