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The Daily Tar Heel

Students to honor the behind-the-scenes workers who care for UNC

Ben Albert, a junior business and economics major, is starting a UNC chapter of Unsung Heroes this semester — a philanthropic student organization devoted to promoting appreciation for the workers on college campuses who often go unrecognized.

Albert found out about Unsung Heroes through a Washington Post article his friend shared on Facebook.

Febin Bellamy, a student at Georgetown University, started Unsung Heroes after noticing the same custodians frequently working around his favorite study spot. He began talking to them regularly, heard their stories and was inspired to start a group devoted to telling those stories.

Reading about Bellamy’s story made Albert think about the workers he sees around UNC every day.

“I thought that these obviously can’t be isolated people,” Albert said. “It would be really great to find them all over campus and help campus get to know them.”

Albert’s desire to start a UNC chapter of Unsung Heroes also came from those around him. His fraternity, Sigma Nu, helped buy a car for a worker at the Agora in Granville Towers a few years ago. He said a group of his friends also bought a Christmas gift for one of their favorite security guards in the public health building.

The group plans to speak with Carolina Dining Services employees, Department of Public Safety workers and custodians and post them on the UNC page of the Unsung Heroes website.

“These (stories) aren’t really like interviews,” Albert said. “I want them to be like conversations — how we can learn their story.”

Akash Mishra, who will be the group’s vice president of publicity, said the popular blog Humans of New York was his ideal for what he hopes the Unsung Heroes stories will achieve on campus.

“I think we as students and faculty do a good job of recognizing unsung heroes,” Mishra said. “But I think it’s inevitable when you get caught up in your daily routine to just think about what you have to do and forget to put yourself in the perspective of other people.”

Trevor Hair, a sophomore global studies and Hispanic linguistics major, has already heard about Unsung Heroes from his friends. He hopes that it will recognize workers like two of his favorite Lenoir workers who he says always brighten up his day.

“The workers do so much for us — a lot of them work the entire day,” Hair said. “We all talk to them every day but we don’t really know much about their lives. I think it will be great to get to know them better and just who they are as people. Because they’re so cool! And so nice!”

Mishra said he hopes that sense of appreciation is what Unsung Heroes will promote.

“It’s just the little things that help this University run every day,” he said. “I think when you take a step back and think of that, you appreciate things a lot more.”

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