Facility Services CAREs: NAU department creates camaraderie among diverse workforce

2015 Facility Services light parade

At NAU’s Facility Services, someone is always working.

Maybe it’s the planning and design team poring over campus plans, the engineering and inspection teams signing off on repairs, fleet services doing maintenance on NAU’s hundreds of vehicles or overnight cleaning crews or utility services keeping buildings clean and in good repair. But no matter what time of day and what day of the week, some of the departments more than 250 employees are on clock.

The timing makes department-wide activities difficult to plan, to say the least.

That slight logistical factor hasn’t slowed down the department’s CARE Committee, however, which over the years has taken on event planning, employee recognition and outreach. Committee co-chairs Joshua Spear and Taryn Williams have determined that they all may not see each other much, but when they do, they’ll make it count.

“It’s more about recognizing that we’re all human beings and sharing times,” Spear, a project manager, said. “We work together, so we’re creating an environment of inclusion. That’s the benefit. That’s what we get to do.”

The CARE Committee, which is supported by employee participation and donations (more on how to give later), has been around, but off and on in its activity, for more than 15 years. About seven years ago, a department head wanted a system to recognize employees who excel in their work. There was one, he was told, it just hadn’t done much in a few years. With that, the committee was formed, with Spear at the head. Williams, a project manager with Facility Services, soon joined him, and treasurer Dennis Zickefoose came on just a little while ago when he started his position as administration associate with planning, design and construction. The committee is charged with raising funds and using them to support individuals and build community within the team.

Fall chili cookoff
Facility Services employee sample chili at the annual fall chili cookoff.

That recognition started simply, Spear said. They threw parties for people who were retiring, sent cards and flowers for celebrations in their employees’ lives and for the sad moments as well. They gave awards for individuals and groups who went above and beyond, like responding to emergency plumbing situations in the middle of the night.

They also started the Caught You Caring campaign, an opportunity for employees to recognize and thank their coworkers a little more officially.

“We want to just celebrate the awesome we see around us,” he said.

From there, they moved to events. The annual winter feast, which takes place toward the end of the fall semester, was soon joined by the summer barbecue, both of which are catered by Sodexo. The fall chili cook-off and the spring bake-off followed, with employees bringing their own culinary creations to share, taste and, for the brave souls willing to take a bite of every type of chili, vote on.

“It turns out the simplest things we do are the best things we do,” Williams said.

Not that their other events aren’t popular. The committee didn’t put on the summer barbecue this year—Spear said they need an additional $50 a month in donations to do all four activities, and they just couldn’t find the money this year—people missed it and asked about it.

They are hoping, as more people participate and appreciate what the committee does, that more people will donate to the fund. It is, the three organizers say, absolutely worth the investment.

“I enjoy being part of a team that shows people we care,” Spear said. “In work environments, it’s easy to make it all about work. Most people forget the majority of our waking hours are spent at work, and to have a positive influence on that, to create a space that is fun to be at, to have an attitude of, ‘OK, let’s go!’—that’s what I enjoy, is just being part of the positivity.”

Winter feast
Facility Services employees enjoy the annual winter feast.

To support the Facility Services team with a one-time or recurring gift to the fund, visit Giving at NAU. Employees from any NAU unit may also give using payroll deduction for an ongoing or onetime gift. To set up payroll deduction:

  • Log into LOUIE.
  • Under Payroll and Compensation, click Annual Fund Contributions.
  • Click Manage NAU Annual Fund
  • Click New or Modify
  • Click to search funds and enter 4198 or “C.A.R.E. Capital assets & Services.”
  • Select the amount you wish to give per paycheck and the duration of your pledge, then click Give.

Facility Services employees also can contribute by participating in semiannual split the pot raffles, in which the winner gets half of the money raised and the other half goes to the committee to fund its activities.

Email Beth Hickey, director of annual giving, or call (928) 523-6030 with questions.

NAU Communications