To Frank Chavez, Groundwerx is more than a job pan-and-broom cleaning or using the ATLV vacuum sweeper over downtown sidewalks. Expressing his desire to be a solid contributor to the downtown community, Chavez is more than willing to go the extra mile to lend a helping hand to those who might need it.
“I consider how visitors might judge downtown and want to do my part to ensure they have a good experience,” Chavez said.
His supervisors at Groundwerx recognized Chavez’ positive attitude and strong work ethic, which quickly earned the respect of co-workers, management and downtown customers, and named him Groundwerx Employee of the Year for 2021.
“What stands out is that Frank always approaches each day with more than just a paycheck in mind,” said Brian DeHart, operations supervisor. “He genuinely cares about the community he serves and is even more motivated after recently becoming a new father.”
Over the course of 2021, Chavez assisted businesses beyond the call of duty, for instance moving the Insomnia Cookie A-frame sign off the VTA light-rail tracks when he noticed the employee trying to wrestle it back into place had a cast on her broken leg. During the holidays, he was quick to help multiple visitors with mobility challenges to cross streets safely.
“One of my relatives was hit by a bus this year, so I know that crossing the street can be difficult and dangerous for some,” he said.
These customer interactions didn’t prevent him from completing his deployment routes. The training he received when he started helped set him down a positive path.
“When I started a year ago (December 2020), three of my co-workers trained me on how to meet my day-to-day goals,” he said.
Groundwerx managers started him as a cleaner and quickly promoted him into operating the heavier machines half-time.
Recapping 2021, harsh weather in October and December forced Groundwerx crews to slow down and be safe, Chavez said. He recalled one unpleasant morning when he began his shift vacuuming leaves at 4 a.m. in pouring rain and cold, with car lights blinding his vision.
“During the rainy season, staff emphasized weather safety and being aware of our surroundings,” he said.
Another challenge during the holidays was cleaning the food waste and grease spills caused by the numerous hotdog vendors set up around the Downtown Ice rink and Christmas in the Park.
“Every day is different out on the streets,” he said in July when he was Groundwerx Employee of the Month. “You see something new all the time working downtown.”
Chavez expressed pride in being a part of the downtown culture. San Jose is his hometown, he said, and he has spent a lot of time downtown – specifically at Circle A skate shop as a teen-ager, from where he purchased three skateboards over the years. He still regards his skateboard as his “second car” and is happy to now provide Groundwerx services to Circle A and Good Karma owner Bob Schmelzer.
He also has his hands full away from work taking care of his 12-month-old daughter, Ayiana.
“Frank’s positive attitude has been a constant uplift in tough times,” said Chris Kendrix, Groundwerx program director.
For Groundwerx cleaning assistance or escorts from office to car during the dark winter months, use the Groundwerx Everywhere app for iPhones or Android or call dispatch at 408-287-1520 between 6 a.m. and 8:30 pm.