- Ray McKee:
With his disarming smile,
Washington tackles sensitive tasks for Housing Services
has a saying that often reverberates within the walls of the maintenance
shop for Housing Services on Escondido Road. "Seven point five," Washington
will sing out. "Seven point five."
The phrase is shorthand
for Washington's approach to his workday, which is eight hours minus
a half-hour break. Whatever assignment is thrown at him in those hours,
"I'm here to do the job," said Washington, a project crew custodian.
His tremendous work
ethic was a constant theme in the submissions nominating Washington
that flooded the Amy Blue Awards selection committee. And virtually
all of the nominations noted Washington's kindness and ready smile.
"When we've all had enough, Willie is still smiling. Nothing ever
gets him down," said Teresa Riseborough, supervisor for Roble, Lagunita
and Governor's Corner residence halls. Washington "brings a wave of
smiles and a happy, positive attitude when he walks into my dorms,"
Washington, an Alabama
native, started working in dining services at Tresidder Union 27 years
ago. A supervisor who transferred into Student Housing Services asked
Washington to come along with him, a move Washington made and never
regretted, he said. He and fellow crew members complete about 20,000
work orders per year, said his supervisor, Sharon Bruce. "I like the
variety," Washington said. "Every day is a good day."
Washington is a
key player in getting big jobs done, such as during "Crash Week" in
June, when the 6,000 bed spaces used by undergraduates are turned into
spaces for conferences in just one week, said Michele Rissman-Baltuch,
assets coordinator for Student Housing Services, who supervised Washington
for four years. Washington's organized approach and his leadership make
the most of the limited time, she said.
It might have been
selfish of her, said Rissman-Baltuch, but she often turned to Washington
to handle the most challenging jobs. "I had every confidence that Willie's
interactions with our customers in student housing would always be professional,
of high quality and pleasant for our customers," she said. And when
things absolutely had to go perfectly -- like when First Daughter Chelsea
Clinton moved in -- Rissman-Baltuch made sure Washington was present.
"He has a great deal of patience. You cannot ruffle his feathers. He
truly radiates positive energy."
Washington is a
top choice for the most delicate jobs, like when a family apartment
doesn't become available until quite late in a pregnancy for a graduate
student or a spouse, Riseborough said. Washington is asked to help with
such moves because "there's a lot of humanity in his approach to people,"
"Willie is a sparkle,"
said Bettye Price, administrative services manager for the Department
of Biological Sciences. A 2001 Amy Blue Award winner, Price is Washington's
niece. Washington's wife, Linda Washington, works for Residential and
Dining Enterprises in Manzanita Hall, and his brother, Chester Washington,
works on the maintenance crew for the Department of Biological Sciences.
Her uncle is one
of the few people she has never seen get upset about anything, Price
said. "He's so much fun to be around and he has a great sense of humor.
He's the kind of person you feel grateful to know," she added.
his jaw dropped when he learned that he was to receive an Amy Blue Award.
"I was shocked. I could hardly believe it." All the members of his 10-person
crew deserve the award, he said. "I take my hat off to the whole crew."