Unsung Hero #36 – Gil, Cashier at Paws & Go (Washington University in St. Louis)

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“..It has been a fight guys, and I could not be sitting here in front of you guys if I had given up. Because I was homeless at one time, I didn’t have a job, I didn’t know where I was going, I didn’t know what was going to happen, but I knew as long as I was applying myself, I could get myself out of the rut. I’m out the rut, but it takes a whole lot. There are going to be some days you gotta pull so deep down inside of you to keep going because you’re not even gonna think you can do it, but you’ll do it, because you know you got to.”

“I just try to be the man that I know I am, and I’m not ashamed of the man I know I am. I have a lot of people ask me why are you so close to [the students], and I’m like ‘they see me every day, I see them every day, so why wouldn’t I become closer to these guys because that’s what were supposed to do for one another.'”

“It has been a fight guys, and I could not be sitting here in front of you guys if I had given up. Because I was homeless at one time, I didn’t have a job, I didn’t know where I was going, I didn’t know what was going to happen, but I knew as long as I was applying myself, I could get myself out of the rut. I’m out the rut, but it takes a whole lot. There are going to be some days you gotta pull so deep down inside of you to keep going because you’re not even gonna think you can do it, but you’ll do it, because you know you got to.”

Unsung Hero #4: Joseph Jones, line cook in Holmes Lounge

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“My childhood was very regimented, very strict because my father was a military man, and he came from a long line of military men. He is such a hard-working man. His first job after the military was at the post office, and he said it was too easy. I developed my strong work ethic from him, but my mom also made sure we were always working, doing something. She wasn’t the stay at home type she was ambitious.”

“Getting this job here at WashU was the job I had to persevere for the most. I had to stay in touch with the woman who I interviewed. I called her every day and she said to me one day, ‘I’m going to have to give you a part here, so you won’t call me every day.’ I knew this was annoying but I also knew that constantly reminding her of my presence would help.”

“My mom and dad taught me a lot, but the biggest thing I got from them was perseverance. No matter what the ideas are, no matter what the road ahead looks like, keep going. Don’t stop. Doors won’t open for you; you have to open them.”
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Joe, thank you for lifting our spirits with your warm smile and infectious laugh!

Unsung Hero #3- Michael Moore, Janitor in Danforth House

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“My personal life outside of work, I play some basketball, spend time with my family, my nieces and nephews. I don’t have any kids of my own, so I look at my nieces and nephews as if they’re mine. I go on a couple dates here and there, go out to eat, I mainly hang out at ballpark village.”

“Family means a lot man, I grew up in a single parent home. In the African American community that is very common, father’s not there, you grew up with mom, she raised you. So when you get to a certain age, when you’re 13, 14, or 15, you have to learn how to become a man on your own, your mom can’t teach you that. It was rough at times, and my father was on drugs, it was an abusive relationship…I haven’t seen my father in about twelve years.”

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Unsung Hero #2- Donna Grice, Cashier at BD on the South 40

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I just like to come here and then do my job and interact with the kids. The kids are the most important thing to me. I love talking to them and being around them. Sometimes I can feel bad at home and when I come here and I see the kids that I talk to every single day, I see them and talk to them and I feel better, they always seem to make me feel better.”

“I never had kids of my own but I did adopt two kids, they’re actually twins…my sister and I co-parent them…one of the twins, he’s autistic. The girl I see going to WashU or some college, she’s really smart and so advanced.”

“I love the kids; I call all of the kids my kids. And a lot of kids if you ask them say ‘Ms. Donna calls everybody her kids.’ And I fuss at them like I’m their mom sometimes, you know, ‘do the right thing, go study!’…I cried when my kids graduated, I was so not cool with that. But they gotta go, you know you go here for four years and that’s it.”

Thank you Donna for treating the students like one of your own! And most of all thank you for being our Unsung Hero!