After the HA, I went home for 2 years. I worked really hard to save money for school, served at my youth group, and took some Jr. college. The second year I was home, I began to have an intense burden for the interns who are placed in Facilities, specifically Custodial, like I was, and I went back to Teen Mania to help in this area. I had done janitorial work since I was about 9 years old in my family’s business. One of my concerns with HA is how the interns are placed in job placements. Just because I have experience in an area should not mean I have to pay to work in that area that I am already an expert in. Isn’t the point of HA to stretch an intern and gain new experiences? I had gone to an Honor Academy Preview weekend the spring prior with my dad, and I really bought into the whole campfire, bonding, dorm experience. I was very excited to call youth pastors about ATF, or get to work in an office since I had been cleaning 5-7 days a week for 9 years. When I was placed in Custodial my heart was broken. In addition, the January intern that was my “boss” (his name was Jesse, can’t remember his last name) was a condescending and cruel leader who specifically took delight in mocking me because I had experience in Janitorial, plus I was a girl and he came off pretty gender biased to me.
I actually went to Mr. Hasz to talk about my job placement and explained it wasn’t that I didn’t know how to work hard, or that I didn’t want to, but that I had come there to have a NEW experience. Of course, the leadership explained that is where I was assigned and I had to stick it out. In January when Jesse graduated, I was made the leader of the Custodial team. I personally had a lot of contact with Mr. “O” (my boss whom I loved and respected), but other than that, the spiritual and practical leadership of my small team was placed on my shoulders, and I had only been an intern for 5 months.
This is the reason that I had such a huge heart for custodial interns. I knew what it felt like to dream big dreams about HA and get stuck in a job placement that would not help a future resume and a job that other interns seemed to pity you for (and assume you must have no skills or were stupid so you couldn’t be placed in a superior office placement). In fall of 2000, I started petitioning Sam Kimmel who was the new facilities director to hire me as a Staff Associate to run custodial. I had a vision for better kept grounds (ever wonder why there is such an emphasis placed on excellence yet the custodial team is given crappy supplies, very little budget, and a team half as large as they need-while the money is sunk into fountains, a swimming pool, and who knows what else). I also had a heart for the interns to be truly poured into and believed in during their custodial placement by someone who wasn’t an intern peer.
Sam created a job position for me and I was hired. I went on 3 back to back 2 week trips that summer and began my Staff Associate year in August 2001. I was so optimistic, so excited, and had dreams and visions to make that part of the HA better. I got better supplies approved (not all that I wanted or needed, but better) and worked very hard to create a team of interns that took pride in their job placement, that supported and loved each other. I found out that the HA job placement process “drafting” if you will is a complete joke. I got to choose a few interns-2 I think, and the rest were placed for me. I had 11 or 12 interns in all. I even had a valedictorian on my team who was certainly intelligent and socially graced enough to do any job in the admin building-but because he was shy, was overlooked during “team building” day during gauntlet week. I also was assigned an autistic intern who was high functioning but very difficult to keep attention on mundane tasks, an intern with severe anger issues whom I was afraid of, and a former army veteran who became one of my closest friends. I was surprised at how cutthroat the staff was about choosing interns, also surprised to find out that very little if no prayer at all was involved in placements. There was trading, yelling, negotiation-but no consideration to where an intern would spiritually thrive. The whole focus was what department wanted what interns and if you had enough clout to get the ones you wanted for your own department to be successful. I was shocked and remembered how I had been told that I was to stick out my intern assignment because it was where “God” had placed me.
By the spring I had become very disenchanted with the HA. My interns would come to me with so many personal issues I felt their advisor and CA’s were not addressing. Also, I kept getting bad reviews on how the buildings were being kept up, even though we were working 2 shifts (8 to about 3, and 3 to about 10) every day. I had the interns split up into A and B shift and I worked both in between my Tyler Junior College Classes. In the fall when my interns couldn’t get the dorms done every day in time for dinner (there were 4 dorms, and about 5 interns to clean them. Each dorm had 4 bathrooms with multiple showers, tons of square footage of carpet and tile to clean, trash to take out, and windows as well to clean). This was an impossible task. But I was told by Dave Hasz to demand my team come back after dinner to finish what they were not getting done during their 8-3 shift. So I met them at 6pm to finish. They were exhausted, close to tears on a daily basis-some did cry, even a few boys, and they felt like I was punishing them. I was told to “complain up, smile down” and I tried to protect the HA by being tough on my team about this. Eventually, I went back to Mr. Hasz and told him my interns were just too tired and there weren’t enough of them to get this amount of work done. Even if they worked tirelessly all day. Early that spring, I was called into a meeting in Hasz’s office. Sam Kimmel was there, as well as David L. and some of the other facilities staff. It seemed the ATF and Global Expeditions teams were not finishing their calls and getting the results they needed. So instead of making THEIR interns work extra, or finish their quotas, they were taking a portion of everyone’s facilities interns away to make calls instead. I was told I would be losing half my team, for one month. Worse than that, they chose who they took from me – some of my very best and brightest people. I was told 30 minutes before they announced it to the entire ministry. The call center staff said they would clean their own offices – HAHAHA! I bawled my eyes out for the rest of the day. I felt like they had given me a responsibility but no authority to actually achieve a clean campus, a healthy team, and team morale that comes from getting a job well done. The interns left behind were furious, felt like they were unwanted, untalented, and were losing their best friends as we had worked very hard to build a solid team.
We made it through the month and they kept having family meetings to update us on the “crisis.” When things were getting better I went to Mr. Hasz to find out when my team would be returned to me. My interns loved each other, and missed being together, not to mention the campus looked like crap. Mr. Hasz went to the ATF administrator and she said she never agreed to return our interns. WHAT?! They outright lied. When I met with her and called her on it, she agreed to give me other interns instead. Why couldn’t I have back my team that was already trained, bonded with, etc.? She gave me the interns who had attitude problems, anger issues, and were lazy. As if I already didn’t have enough barriers to my team’s success, now I had to break up fights, find lazy interns sleeping in their rooms during work time, and explain to my original team why their leaders had lied to them…and me.
I notified Sam shortly after this that I wouldn’t be returning for a 2nd year as staff associate. I was simply too hurt and exhausted from all the mind games that year to sign up for a second. He informed me that they wouldn’t have me back anyway because a 1st or 2nd year intern could do my job just fine, for free. I don’t believe this was Sam’s decision, as Sam treated me very well throughout that year. It was simply another poor decision to devalue the facilities team and do a disservice to the interns who are assigned to those teams. I am still in contact with some of my custodial team members and know in my heart that I did the best I could with what I was given.
What started as a dream of an alumni to change HA, ended in despair, depression, and intense loneliness. I truly felt God had called me back to TM to make a difference, to truly change things in my department. What I found instead was a leadership that broke my heart, lied to me and my team, and continually undervalued me and others. It has been very difficult for me to trust spiritual leaders since, to trust God’s voice to lead me in the right direction, to trust myself to follow my dreams.