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Called to clean toilets

A snapshot of Bergwall’s housekeeper

<span style="font-weight: 400;">Andrea Conn, the Bergwall housekeeper, not only cleans the lobby, but also makes a full feast of desserts for students to enjoy the week before Christmas break. (Photo by Halie Owens)</span>

Andrea Conn, the Bergwall housekeeper, not only cleans the lobby, but also makes a full feast of desserts for students to enjoy the week before Christmas break. (Photo by Halie Owens)

By Aubree DeVisser | Echo

A calling that requires cleaning toilets? This may sound more like a simple day-to-day job some most, but to Andrea Conn, Bergwall’s housekeeper, it’s much more than that. She began working for Taylor to provide a college education for her two kids—a goal she was determined to reach—and after 14 years, she has no intentions to leave anytime soon.

After a tragic accident, the previous housekeeper of Bergwall passed away, leaving a spot open for Conn. She shared that this meant filling big shoes—and she wasn’t sure if she could handle the job.

As a housekeeper, Conn oversees many responsibilities: cleaning sinks, sanitizing showers, vacuuming hallways—the list goes on. Developing relationships with students is not part of her job description, though Conn treats it as one. She spends quality time beyond her designated shifts by choosing to spend quality time listening to students as well as giving helpful advice and prayer.  

However, this is not a one-sided relationship. The students of Berg show their appreciation and love for her in many different ways. From sticky notes to enormous banners of encouragement and prayers, these kids reciprocate Conn’s affection.

“Two years ago, my grandson was in an induced coma, and (we were) going back and forth (from the hospital),” Conn said. “Going to work there was this wall banner where the kids in the dorm signed it and said ‘We’re praying for you and we love you.’ I just stood there and cried.”

While getting 200 new students every year is a challenge when it comes to learning names and faces, Conn is determined to create relationships with each student in some way.

Twice a year Conn cooks for the students making it a well-known tradition in Berg. This is something she puts a lot of her own time, money and effort into. Her feasts include a full spread of food before Christmas break and baked goods for finals week.

“It’s always a great moment when you’re feeling stressed about your finals, come down the stairwell, swing open the lobby door and in front of you glows a spread of brownies, cookies and cake,” senior Berg resident Grant Hohlbein said.

According to Conn, one year a girl saw the spread of food around Christmas time and began to cry. When Conn asked her if she was okay, the girl explained that she didn’t get that at home anymore, and it reminded her of Christmas. Conn explained this is why she keeps doing her job.

Conn takes each relationship seriously and considers each Bergwall resident her child. When it comes to keeping a clean dorm, Conn holds the same expectations she would for her own children. She has gained the respect and love of these students, and not by just letting them off easy.

Conn even takes the time to pray with them. Conn is involved in students’ emotional, spiritual and romantic lives as well. She has even attended a few weddings.

Junior Berg resident Anna Oelerich distinctly remembered Conn’s comforting presence in a time of need: “I’ll never forget when we had a prayer night with Andrea (Conn) during my freshman year. My mom was very sick, and I felt uncomfortable sharing that with the group because I still didn’t know everyone that well. I remember how comforting it was to have Andrea listen to my words and pray fervently on my mom’s behalf.”

Conn stressed that all of this is not about her, but about Jesus. She put emphasis on the difference that Christ can make in her life and others.

“She is one of the most selfless people I have ever met,” sophomore Brady Hill said. “In Philippians 2:4 it says, ‘Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.’ I believe Andrea lives this out daily.”

She explained that she has been asked if she will retire from Taylor now that her son is graduating this spring. While she has accomplished her goal—having both her children successfully complete their degrees—she believes she is meant to continue housekeeping in Bergwall for now.

Conn could easily choose other, higher-paying jobs. She admits to having other fun jobs in the past, but nothing quite compares to this one. Money isn’t the only factor playing into her staying at Taylor. She plans to remain until she feels her time and purpose here on campus is complete. “If I felt the presence of God and God felt I needed to move on, I’d leave. I’m just not feeling it,” Conn said. “My life is totally dedicated to him, and that’s even cleaning toilets.”

 

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