The men behind the beauty

By Brandon Desiderio
November 12, 2011

Did you know that the campus is about 112 acres in size and there are 30 types of trees, from all over the world? There are so many trees, in fact, that Cabrini is known as the “cathedral of trees.”

A lot of time and effort goes toward the maintenance of the college grounds, from storm cleanup and snow-shoveling, to leaf-blowing and plant-maintaining. To make the commute to and from class convenient for both commuter and resident students, someone has to keep the roads and pathways clear at all times.

That is where Cabrini’s groundskeepers and grounds workers come in. There are six men at the heart of keeping Mother Nature from interfering with the day-to-day operations on the campus, all of whom go above and beyond what is expected of them to keep everything in order.

“We’re always looking up,” Gus Feudale, grounds manager, said. “If we see a branch hanging, we take care of it.”

Feudale, who grew up in Chester County, Pa., and now lives in Wayne, has been working at Cabrini since August of 2001. Prior to 2001, he worked at Bryn Mawr College.

“I always feel this campus is so much different than other campuses,” Feudale said. “The students should really see the difference. It’s really unique here.”

Aside from doing grounds work , which he’s done now for 20 years, Feudale also owned his own photography business and takes pictures of Cabrini’s campus in his free time.

In regard to the recent snowstorm that hit the Northeast on Oct. 29, Feudale said, “It was probably a couple weeks too early, but we handled it pretty well.”

The storm left much of the campus littered with fallen tree branches in addition to several inches of snow. The houses had been evacuated in order to ensure the safety of the resident students.

Andy Beck, grounds foreman, has been working at Cabrini for six years and is from Chestnut Hill, Pa. Prior to his grounds work, he was employed as the managing director of State Street Capital Markets in the World Trade Center. After the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001, he worked for a few years at the Morris Arboretum at the University of Pennsylvania before retiring in Florida.

“We basically do our jobs for the kids here,” Beck said, describing Cabrini as a “tight community.” Beck found his current position in a posted job listing in a Philly newspaper, which he had delivered to his Florida home.

“It’s different at UPenn,” Beck said. “When a kid here comes up to you in the cafeteria and thanks you for what you do, that’s great.”

Groundskeeping is just one division of Cabrini’s Facilities department, whose offices are located in Wayne. The other divisions include heating, ventilation and air conditioning, physical arrangements, and carpentry. Physical arrangements in particular is responsible for setting up for all of the events that are hosted at Cabrini.

In addition to Beck and Feudale, there are four groundskeepers: Sean Kelly, Matt Duffus, John Henderson and Jon Kagle. Only Duffus and Henderson were available for interviews at the time of this article’s publication.

John Henderson, who calls King of Prussia home, has been working at Cabrini for a little over one year now. He had a preexisting interest in horticulture and landscaping, which ultimately led him to take the position.

“Something about it’s relaxing to me,” Henderson said about his passion for horticulture. “I love it here.”

Like Beck, Henderson loves the sense of community at Cabrini. “We’re more of a face here,” Beck said. “We have more of an identity.”

Matt Duffus worked at West Chester University before taking a position as groundskeeper at Cabrini three years ago. Originally from Fairfax, Va., he now calls Wallingford, Pa. home.

“We gel better as a team here compared to other places,” Duffus said, citing the “state of affairs” at WCU as why he ultimately chose to leave. Duffus received his B.S. in outdoor recreation from Davis & Elkins College in Elkins, W. Va. He enjoys being outside and spending time with his family and friends.

“The thing that gets me the most every day is the trash,” Duffus said. Although there are plenty of trash receptacles placed around campus, many students, faculty and staff still continue to litter.

The groundsmen wish to one day see Cabrini as a nonsmoking campus, as the disposal of cigarette butts in specific is quite a problem.

“Keep Mother Earth clean, basically,” Henderson concluded.

Groundkeepers spend countless hours taking care of the grounds of Cabrini

Brandon Desiderio

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