By Caitlin McHugh
Housekeeping is something she has been doing for many years now, but Cynthia Thomas is known on the Canisius College campus for much more than just that. Many students on campus know her as “Ms. Cindy,” and have developed quite an appreciation for her caring personality as they have gotten to know her around the library over the course of their time here at Canisius.
Thomas has been a staff member at Canisius for 13 years and is currently a member of the Facilities Management Department. She is a graduate of Lafayette High School and has lived in Buffalo her whole life.
Prior to working at Canisius, she spent many years working at National Fuel, where she was responsible for the housekeeping of the building’s entire first floor and kitchen. When the company relocated, she found herself searching for a job and her supervisor directed her towards Canisius. She went in for an interview and was hired on the spot.
As a part-time member of the management team at Canisius, her responsibilities include cleaning all of the study rooms and taking care of any other tasks she is asked to do. “When the kids leave at the end of the day, I want to make sure the garbage is out and the floors are cleaned and everything is looking spick-and-span for them,” she said.
The people at Canisius are the main reason behind why she loves working here as much as she does. “Management is great,” she continued. “Anytime you need to talk, they always have open doors and always listen to you and try to help you.”
She loves the students, and feels deeply saddened when they go away for breaks. Their presence on campus makes her job rewarding. Thomas was deeply touched when Clayton Shanahan, a junior at Canisius, knocked on the door of a study room that she was cleaning to show his appreciation for everything that she does.
“Before I started to get to know Cindy, I would see her quietly working on the second floor of the library. I would be getting some work done and she would walk by and we’d say hello to one another, with a smile and a discrete wave,” Shanahan said. “She’s one of those people who, when you see smile, it’s so hard to not smile back and feel a little special because there, too, is something special about her.”
“She is a ray of sunshine and once I began having longer interactions with her, [I] was able to tell that she is full of love and has a heart that’s exactly in the right place,” Shanahan continued. “Each day as I’m sitting on the quiet floor of the library, I try to look for Cindy, to have just a moment when we smile and say hello. It’s those unexpected moments and finding meaning in those short interactions that I’ve come to love and appreciate so much, and that’s because of Cindy. I am thankful for her contribution and the work she does for our College, but even more so, I am filled with gratitude for the friendship we’ve made.”
Thomas expressed, “It makes your day to know that a student saw what I was doing and appreciated [it].”
Thomas described herself as a family person. She has six sisters, and when she is not working she spends a majority of her free time doing things with them. She is well-known for her baking skills and enjoys bringing treats to her aunts that reside in several different nursing homes in Buffalo. Thomas also has a reputation for making sure everybody is included and that all of their friends get a sweet treat when she visits, as well.
“Every time we visit them, we make sure we bring enough treats for their friends as well, even the ones we don’t know,” she shared.
Thomas’ hard work and passion for her job does not go unrecognized on campus. “When I leave here every day, I want to leave with a good conscience that everything that needed to be done was done,” she stated.