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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

Where everybody knows your name

June 10, 2014

Cindy MillsAt one time or another Cindy Mills interacts with just about every person on the Ontario campus. Staff, faculty, students, vendors and service technicians all go through her to get something they need in order to continue forward.

As Day Porter for the Facilities department, Cindy’s responsibilities put her in the direct line of contact for every other department’s needs. Her custodial duties include ordering office supplies, distributing books at orientation, assisting the Facilities Manager with inventory, conducting safety inspections, providing material set-up and break-down for campus events and taking repair service technicians to the areas in need. She opens the campus every morning, ensuring all classrooms and offices are ready for the day.

“I get to interact with everyone,” says Cindy. “Not just people who work here but students, and vendors who come in to fix things or do things like tent windows. I take them where they need to go and show them what needs to be looked at or fixed.”

Cindy has to be something of an accountant, as she keeps tight records of books and supplies checked out.

“I do inventory about three times a month, and you don’t want to make a mistake and have to do it again,” she says. “Inventory records need to show what went off your shelf and the final count has to be right on.”

Another big part of her job is set-up and break-down of everything needed for an on-campus event. Cindy arranges for food and drinks, tents, tables/chairs, umbrellas, audio needs and hook-ups, trash receptacles – everything needed for a comfortable environment and successful event.

“Cindy was instrumental in coordinating the move from the Rancho Cucamonga campus and set up of the supply/bookroom and janitorial storage spaces at the Ontario campus,” says Chuck Steinmetz, Facilities Manager. “She arrived early and stayed late throughout this process and always with a smile and a positive attitude.”

Cindy is humble in her response. “I just think I’m doing my job, trying to keep everybody happy.”

One of Cindy’s favorite events for which she was responsible for set-up, included seven food trucks, face painting, balloon animals, bounce houses and guided tours of the campus. The evening event attracted about 750 visitors.

“I started at 6:00 AM and got out at 11:45 PM,” she says, without complaint. “I usually have quite a bit of help on big events.”

There is also plenty of shared laughter to go along with the tasks.

“There were five or six of us trying to get a generator to start,” says Cindy. “The whole event, and music, ran off the generator so people were panicking. I asked an RT teacher walking by if he knew anything about generators and he said it had been years since he used them in Vietnam, but had we turned the switch on. None of us thought about a button.”

Sometimes big winds come through and blow tents and canopies around the parking lot for the crew to chase. Her favorite response to the forces of Murphy’s Law: “It will all be over by tomorrow.”

Cindy has always felt a special attachment to SJVC students from beginning to end.

“I get to see all the faces of students that are coming in as I pass out their books to them, and then I see their faces when they return the books on their last day,” says Cindy. “I see their excitement for when they are going to start their new careers.”

“Students engage her in conversation, many who share fears, hopes and family secrets,” says Sherril Hein, Campus Director. “Cindy encourages students to attend class, do homework and pass their exams. She lets them know how important they are.”

Cindy just has a way about her that invites trust. “You usually don’t have to say a lot, just listen,” she says. “I feel they wouldn’t say anything unless they needed someone to listen or talk to.”

Cindy’s strong work ethic comes from her dad, Albert. “My dad never missed a day of work, except when it was raining,” she says. “He was in the lumber business, and you can’t do anything when it rains.”

Dependability is a trait that passed from father-to-daughter, and now from Cindy to her daughter, Melissa, who is a nurse and equally hardworking.

Cindy likes to spend her off-hours planting flowers in her garden. She just put in some peonies and colorful Gerbera Daisies. They will grow and change under her vigilance; not unlike all those others blooming under her thoughtful attention on campus.