Huden helper creates wave of positivity

Photo courtesy of Eliza Sigel.
Tom Kelly lounges at his desk chair before returning to help out at Huden Dining Hall.

Tom Kelly has worked in Huden Dining Hall at Castleton University since 2012, when Sodexo was hired to prepare the school’s meals.

And how he got here is an interesting story.

Sodexo was looking for a morning supervisor and the manager was in the town bank one day, where Kelly’s wife worked. He asked if they knew anyone interested and he said his wife, Lisa, was quick to respond.

“I got the perfect candidate for you,” she told manager, according to Kelly.

About a week later, Kelly went in for an interview and he started days later – on Labor Day.

“Well I’m not really a chef per se,” he said, describing his role with his arms crossed. “I do a lot of cooking here when there is a need, if there are call-outs. I can jump into pretty much any station here, because first and foremost are the students. If there is a station that is closed, it doesn’t look good and it means that students aren’t getting food.

When he is working in Huden, Kelly is usually wearing a red or white cook’s shirt with the Sodexo logo – and a smile. If he is not in the office answering emails, he is working the line and serving people food.

“He’s real. The realest person I Know. Great worker, good husband,” said Rob Macfarlane, who has worked with Kelly for three-and-a-half years.

When it comes to his co-workers, they are quick to comment about Kelly.

“I hate him…,” joked a Huden co-worker who goes only by “Q” and who has worked with him for five years. “He’s the best person I’ve worked with. He’s like a second boss. He can fill in and work five-six others people’s job without complaining.”

It’s not only his co-workers who notice Kelley’s efforts. 

“Tom is a really nice outgoing guy. I have really great conversations with him. It’s nice to talk to him when your down and or stressed,” senior Max Tempel said.

When Kelly is not working the stations or in the back office, you might be able to find him near a race track.

“In the summer, I help a buddy of mine with race cars, and my nephew has a race car that I started helping him with this summer,” he said excitedly, uncrossing his arms. “I work on the cars, but I never raced.”

On Friday nights during the summer, he’s often with his buddy in Saratoga, New York and on Sunday nights he’s with his nephew at the track, either in the stands or in the pit.

He has two girls who are in school and he said they enjoy spending time together as a family. He said they love to attend Spartans games as a family, especially hockey and football

He also said he really likes life at Huden.

“I love coming to work every day,” he said.

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