U Facilities Management employees make a house call to help former coworker

K Kathy Hoaglund’s layoff couldn’t have come at a worse time.

Shortly before her last day as a Facilities Management customer service representative on the St. Paul campus, Hoaglund’s husband had his legs amputated due to diabetes complications. She was out of a job and her husband was in the hospital.

“It’s been a hard year,” Hoaglund said. “We have to adjust to the idea of major life changes.”

Hoaglund’s former colleagues decided they wanted to help. Last Saturday, after weeks of planning, approximately 20 Facilities Management employees showed up at Hoaglund’s home to build a wheelchair ramp and make other modifications to improve accessibility at home for her husband.

The modifications include a new sink and fixtures in the bathroom, new electric outlets and a new back door.

“I’m tired and I haven’t even been working,” Hoaglund said while watching her former colleagues work.

Electricians, plumbers, carpenters and many other University employees came to help.

“There are people from all types of trades and crafts here,” said Kirk Richardson, Facilities Management operation supervisor. “We just asked for volunteers and they came.”

Pete Fetzek, carpenter foreman for the St. Paul campus, coordinated the project.

“We’re a close-knit group,” Fetzek said. “We all felt that it was something we could doƖshe’s real deserving and needs help.”

Hoaglund’s former colleagues raised approximately $2,800 to fund the project. Some of her neighbors also contributed.

Vendors including Goodin Co. in St. Paul and the United Building Center in Lakeville, Minn., donated materials.

The project was expected to be finished Saturday, Fetzek said.

Facilities Management, which employed about 1,200 people before the most recent budget cuts, reduced its total headcount by 104 employees, said Jim Bossert, a shift supervisor.

Bossert used to be a manager of Facilities Management in St. Paul, but was moved to his current position after his department was downsized.

“We did a whole reorganization,” said Bossert, who came out to work on Hoaglund’s house.

Hoaglund said it was an overwhelming experience. “I’m almost at a loss of words because of the kindness of these people.”

Jake Weyer covers faculty and staff issues and welcomes comments at [email protected]