Doing the Best for Our Youth

How the Boys Ranch custodial team rose to the challenge of COVID-19.

By George Owen, Director of Custodial Services

IN OCTOBER 2019, FLU SEASON WAS APPROACHING, AND WE EXPECTED IT TO BE BAD. As the custodial team talked about how to fight the flu at Boys Ranch, we heard about a new electrostatic disinfecting gun, and we bought one.

Then our world was hit with the COVID-19 situation. Our purchasing department immediately bought three more guns, which was fortunate, because right after we bought them, they were suddenly unavailable anywhere across the United States.

The disinfecting mist is fine and wraps around and under desks at the schools, covering everything it touches.

It takes less than five minutes to disinfect a classroom using the spray guns, everything from desks to pencil sharpeners to light switches to doorknobs. Then the disinfectant needs a few minutes to dry and do its work.

At the beginning of the pandemic, the advice on best practices changed from day to day as we checked the Centers for Disease Control website to try to keep up. Our custodial employees stepped up to the new challenge, arriving early every day – in some cases by 3 a.m. – so we could have everything cleaned before the other employees start working.

It was and still is a huge, huge effort.

I have been doing custodial work for 16 years and before that I was a houseparent for seven years. I also have the privilege of serving on the Boys Ranch Independent School District board of trustees.

I have to say our 17-person custodial team did a fantastic job. We take care of 18 different buildings daily. Some are large buildings, such as all three schools, the Dippel Activity Center, the clinic, the chapel and the Christian education building. We also clean 12 apartments on campus for visitors who need to spend the night at Boys Ranch. When COVID hit, we started spraying the common areas in all our buildings and all 28 homes.

I take a lot of pride in saying the rest of the Boys Ranch staff know we do our best work every day to keep our campus and offices safe. They could come to work with confidence. Custodial staff never went into the resident homes before to disinfect, but as we increased our disinfecting standards in response to COVID, we started going in three days a week for common areas, like living rooms. Today, we continue spraying our buildings daily, and we are in the homes every Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings.

Did I mention that I am so very proud of our custodial department team?

Boys Ranch has always been able to adapt to changing circumstances in an honest way, and that’s what happened in 2020.

Thank you for believing in us. We think we have proven our toughness, our resilience and our commitment. That’s the Boys Ranch way.

Sometimes people ask me what I, as a longtime Boys Ranch employee, wish other people knew about Boys Ranch and it’s this:

I wish people knew how we strive to make things better for all the kids who come here. They’re here for a reason, and we try to make their lives better for the future and for now.

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