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UNC Housekeeper Mothers Students
Housekeeper Betty Russell
occasionally gives meals
and potpourri to residents
of Old East Residence Hall.
By Ashley Gainer
For UNC junior Jeremy Hendley’s
21st birthday, his most memorable gift
came in the form of a home-cooked
This gift consumed time and energy
from a person who had little of those
to give. The giver isn’t a relative of
Hendley, but she is thought of as a sec
ond mom around campus.
Her name is Betty Russell, a house
keeper in Old East Residence Hall,
where Hendley lives.
“She used her own food, and she
did it in her spare time,” Hendley said.
“It made me feel really good.”
While some say interactions such as
these are uncommon, friendly relation
ships between students and housekeep
ers can be found on campus.
Nate Jaime, Old East resident assis
tant and public
policy major, said
the students con
sider Russell a sec
ond mother -as
the birthday meal
knew he hadn’t
had a home
cooked meal in a
long time, so she
took time out of
“(Betty Russell) really
takes care of everybody.
It’s more like
a family here. ”
Junior Music Major
her schedule to cook him baked chick
en and combread for lunch,” he said.
Russell - or Miss Betty to her resi
dents - often uses homemade treats
and potpourri sprays to create a
unique atmosphere for her students.
“She really takes care of everybody,”
said Ana-Laura Diaz, a junior music
major who lives in Old East. “It’s more
like a family here.”
Although Russell makes an extra
effort to be attentive to Old East resi
dents, the typical duties of a University
housekeeper keep her busy.
She cleans the public areas of the
residence hall every day. Between
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sweeping the steps, mopping the hard
wood floors and dusting the library,
Russell takes time to get to know the
“She’ll take time to talk to the stu
dents and give us advice,” Jaime said
of Russell. “If someone’s having a bad
day she’ll tell them that things will get
better, and if they don’t feel like study
ing she’ll tell them to get in line.”
Russell said she loves working on
campus because of her relationship
with students. “They make me feel
comfortable,” she said. “There is never
a time when they pass my door and do
not speak to me.”
Russell’s co-worker, Bernice Cradle,
works in Alderman Residence Hall,
and said she has also fostered friend
ships with students in her 20 years as a
“I have a great relationship with the
students,” Cradle said. “They’re always
coming up and asking how my day is.
Even older ones who have graduated
still keep in touch.”
Some housekeepers say experiences
such as Russell’s and Cradle’s are
uncommon on a campus where many
students and housekeepers remain
strangers to each
don’t do a whole
lot of talking,”
Mason, a house
keeper for Cobb
Residence Hall. “I
don’t even know
half of their
Regardless of whether housekeepers
find friendships with students, Russell
said she believes they have one of the
most important jobs on campus.
Bill Burston, director of University
housekeeping, said the low wages and
difficulties of the job keep the depart
ment frequendy understaffed.
Burston said he scrambles to keep
positions filled, but often shifts are left
open. He must then rely on his current
staff to compensate for the lack.
Russell is no exception, and her res
idents said they are aware of her strain.
“Sometimes she has to clean Old
West too, which extends her beyond
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Betty Russell, known by Old East Residence Hall residents as Miss Betty,
is more than a housekeeper she is a second mother to many.
her means,” Jaime said.
Russell said she enjoys her job but
does not believe she will remain in
housekeeping. “I’d like to get into an
office job. I don’t mind being here, but
I’d like to move a little higher."
Valuing Russell not only as a house
keeper but as a friend, Hendley said he
will miss her. “It would be like trying
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to tell a good friend goodbye,” he said.
For now, Russell said she will con
tinue her efforts to build relationships
with her residents. “I think I’ve got
them spoiled,” she said. “I don’t mind,
as long as they keep being good.”
The Features Editor can be reached
In Freedom 5K Benefit
By Jenny McLendon
More than 350 runners and walkers
pulled on T-shirts and shorts, strapped
on sneakers and pinned on the name of
a victim of the Sept. 11 attack as part of
a 5K benefit run on Sunday.
The Freedom 5K Tribute to NYC
Heroes raised more than $3,000 for the
Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund, a
national campaign to aid the education
al needs of children of the attack victims.
Organizers said holding the race on
Veterans Day, which also was the two
month anniversary of the attacks,
emphasized the event’s patriotic
aspects. Asa physical reminder of the
race’s purpose, each runner wore a
paper badge that had the name of a
New York rescue worker who died as a
result of the attacks.
“We didn’t want this to be a really
competitive race, but more of a memor
ial,” said Elyse Kopecky, who organized
the event with Kelly Ingraham. “That’s
why we wanted to use the badges."
The Emerging Leaders Program, a
division of Carolina Leadership
Development, sponsored the event.
ELP requires participants to fulfill a ser
vice requirement, and Kopecky said she
thought of filling this by organizing a SK.
“Right after Sept. 11, I was talking
with friends about what happened, and
we really felt like there was nothing we
could do to help,” she said. “I used to
run a lot of 5Ks, and I knew organizing
one could get a lot of people involved.”
Kopecky’s idea drew 320 preregis
trants as well as additional runners on
race day. Every runner paid a $lO fee.
Freshmanjenni Norman said running
in the race made her feel like she could
do something to help the New York City
victims. “I read about all the children
without mothers and fathers, and I want
ed to show my support,” she said.
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Saturday, November 17,10:00am
at Celebration Assembly of God,
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Monday, November 12, 2001
Men’s basketball coach Matt
Doherty and his wife also decided to
show their support for the victims of the
attacks. The couple pushed strollers car
rying their two children during the race.
“I’m glad to get involved in the UNC
community outside of basketball and do
something positive with my family,”
In the end, Ben Hovis, a cross-country
coach from Charlotte, walked away with
the men’s first prize, a gift certificate to
Top of the Hill. But the top women’s fin
ishers, a group of UNC cross-country run
ners who held hands as they crossed the
finish line, gave their gift certificate to
Kate Thomson, who finished second.
Volunteer Irene Birbeck, a sophomore
from Cary, said the event seemed to
touch participants personally. “When we
pinned the name (of a victim) on one girl,
she actually cried,” Birbeck said “She did
n’t realize how personal it was and what
a difference we were actually making.”
The University Editor can be reached
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