Each day for the last 18 months, members of Mt. A’s dedicated team of custodians have worked hard—with rigorous cleaning practices and extra care given—to ensure that students, staff, and faculty are able to engage safely and stay healthy while on campus.
After a 30 year career as a custodian at Mt. A, the last 18 months have looked very different for Bev Estabrooks. “COVID-19 has brought about many changes in all of our lives,” she said. She noted that the intensity and frequency of cleaning have increased, and extra care is given to common areas and high-touch points. “I am proud of all the hard work that people from all walks of life had adjusted to,” she said. Estabrooks was born in Sackville and has lived in Nova Scotia and Ontario as well. “Over the course of my adult life, I have gotten a grade thirteen through manpower plus my own initiatives,” she said. She also attended NSCC and received a certificate in human services and studied early childhood education. At Mt. A, she can be found working in various buildings including Harper Hall and enjoys meeting new people. “Mount Allison affords me the luxury of interacting with staff and students,” she said.
Ashley Taber, a mother of three who was born and raised in Sackville, has been working as a custodian at Mt. A for about 14 months. So far, she has enjoyed her time at Mt. A but admits it has come with some challenges. “The only thing I have found difficult is cleaning with a mask on. It is so hard to breathe,” she said. COVID-19 has also created some insecurity and worry about her children’s health and her own. “I’m concerned if the time comes, and I have to miss time due to my kids or I getting sick,” she said.
Taber works in different buildings across campus, but recently has been in Hunton House quite a bit. She is very appreciative of the rest of the custodial team. “What I enjoy most about working here is meeting so many different people,” she said. “The custodial group I work with are great people.” Outside of work, she can be found around town, bringing her older children to and from football and hockey practices. “Being a sports mom doesn’t leave me much time for anything else,” she said, “but nature walks and cooking are things I love.”
Trish Lowerison is also adjusting to a new position in the midst of the pandemic. She has worked at Mt. A for over 22 years, but started in her current lead hand position in Facilities Management just in February 2020. “The challenges have been many,” she said. “Meeting all requirements and keeping our staff safe was the number one priority, while also keeping our students and others who are still on campus safe.” She works around all the buildings on campus, and enjoys the dynamic nature of her role. “It is a fast-paced and high energy environment which makes coming to work enjoyable.”
Lowerison also owns and operates a salon out of her house and works afternoons and evenings in addition to her full-time position at Mt. A. “It’s a nice balance of two totally different jobs,” she said. With salons facing shutdowns due to public health concerns, she had no income coming from it for a long time. “I was fortunate that my job at Mt. A continued through it all,” she said. She has also seen how COVID-19 has impacted the community in subtle ways. Having grown up in Sackville, Mt. A was always a part of her life. Her high school graduation, for example, was held at Convocation Hall, and her two older children continued in the tradition. “My youngest daughter, class of 2021, did not get to have the Con Hall high school graduation and for that I was sad for the class of 2021,” she said.
Debbie Musgrove has been part of the custodial team at Mt. A for 14 years and can usually be found in Windsor Hall or Thornton House. “I grew up in Sackville [and] left at the age of 18 on a motorcycle, a 750 Yamaha,” she said. She lived in Oakville, ON, had a son, and worked with adults with intellectual disabilities. “I came home for a visit after about ten years and fell in love with my hometown,” she said. Now with just over two years until her retirement, she is enthusiastic about her position. “I enjoy the students. I also like working alone and being responsible for my position,” she said. “Mt. A is a great company to work for. I find they treat their employees fair and it’s a beautiful campus.”
For Musgrove, the hardest part of the pandemic has been worrying about her mom, 87, who lives in the Drew Nursing Home. “It’s terrible that the elderly are suffering so much,” she said. COVID-19 has also impacted her work in a number of ways. “The wearing of the mask,” she said. “It does get hot.” She also noted that there were a lot of high-attention areas to maintain, but that and with fewer students on campus in the summer months, there was actually less work than usual during that time. When not at work, Musgrove loves spending time in her backyard and with her wife of ten years. “Some people know her as the ‘Singing Cook.’ Look her up!” she said. “I love to garden. I also like to make things using recycled stuff. I like reading and just trying to live a peaceful life in this crazy world