Olivet College prides itself on providing a relationship-based education. The principle extends past the classroom, as is the case with Doug Reynolds, maintenance tradesperson, and senior Blake Johnson. Last summer, Johnson worked with Reynolds on campus, and they formed a solid relationship transcending the typical boss-worker archetype.
“Once we opened up, it went from a boss-to-worker relationship to a friend-to-friend relationship,” Johnson said. “It even goes past working together. In the summer, I had nothing but rice and ketchup to eat, so Doug gave me food that lasted me until my next paycheck. I try to pay back the favor by being there anytime he calls and needs my help. I like to think we are pretty good pals.”
Reynolds expressed the importance of forming meaningful relationships with students.
“Most of my students, especially Blake, I can count on if I need someone,” Reynolds said. “When I’m in a pinch — even if it’s something as simple as needing someone to help lift something heavy — Blake will be there in two minutes.
“The students are like my kids. I’m all about family. This whole place is family. It’s the whole reason I’m here. Without relationships, it wouldn’t be as fun. It wouldn’t be as personal. Maybe some students will look at us as parents away from home and look up to us.”
Johnson echoes Reynolds’ views on Olivet’s family-like atmosphere, stressing that campus feels more welcoming thanks to the support of role models.
“The people who work in maintenance here are awesome — every one of them,” Johnson said. “For this reason, I think students and those guys should have a great relationship. The maintenance crew makes it feel like home because they help us like we are their kids or siblings.”
Reynolds emphasizes that relationships between his coworkers also contribute to the vibrancy of the residential community.
“My coworkers and I are like brothers and sisters,” Reynolds said. “We all know that if someone needs something, someone will be there. All I have to do is call and they’re there. We have such a great maintenance team. We all love each other.
“If you’re having a struggle outside of here, we have your back. If you have something going on at home, we’re there to help you and listen to you.”
Reynolds has shared not only his technical expertise with Johnson, but also life lessons.
“Most importantly is what Doug has taught me about life. He has always preached about family being the most important thing and he lives that every day. His family is everything to him. I like to think I get that treatment from him as well. Doug’s work ethic is unmatched, and every day he tells me, ‘If we don’t do it, no one else will.’ This is something we joke about, but I really do say it to myself every time I want to give up on a chore or homework.
“Doug is one of the best people I have ever met. If he can do something for someone, he will. My grandfather, who died when I was a senior in high school, is my absolute hero. Behind him, Doug is a very close second place in the best people I know.”