Photo of Spencer Mack and Silvia Valencia
By Jereme Lua
The CI student body recently gave a warm thanks to one of our campus auxiliary workers through a GoFundMe started in early October titled, “The Sweet Hard-Working Sandwich Lady.” The title refers to Silvia Valencia, who operates the San Nichols Deli at the Islands Cafe on campus. The fundraiser raised $570 from 40 CI students for Valencia to take a well-earned vacation.
Valencia has worked at the Islands Cafe for 13 years, serving many past and present students’ made-to-order sandwiches. The CI View reached out to Valencia about her experiences with the student body and about the fundraiser.
CI students visit the Islands Cafe daily to eat food, talk with friends, do coursework and interact with the staff. Valencia takes this opportunity to ask how each student is while she prepares their food. She believes that taking care of the student body means more than making food for them, stating, “Whenever I make a sandwich I can tell when they are hungry, you can see it in their eyes. It means a lot when they thank me … love comes from the eyes, and from the mouth.”
Valencia takes pride in her interactions and service to students, always taking time to have short conversations with them to allow students to ground themselves within the Cafe after a long day of classes and coursework. This process takes place from when students first start at CI. Valencia stated, “Every semester, at first children are difficult because they come from high school, they are shy. They warm up later on.” Valencia says that students have conversations with her even if they do not get anything from the San Nichols Deli.
The organizer of the GoFundMe, Spencer Mack, a junior math major, spoke about his experiences interacting with Valencia and other campus auxiliary workers. “In freshman year, Silvia was one of the first people I met at the café,” Mack said. “Every time I see her, we always have a conversation … sometimes we talk for ten or fifteen minutes.” However, Mack noted that this is not the case for everyone, feeling that campus auxiliary workers go underappreciated by the student body, despite them feeding students regularly and considering how far any other eatery is to CI.
Mack previously worked in the food industry and understands the significance of a simple conversation or thanks after serving food. This combined with his interactions with Valencia sparked the fundraiser, as a way for the student body to thank her. He said, “It was honestly not a money thing, I wanted Silvia to realize how appreciated she is, knowing that it came from 40 students.”
Valencia told The CI View that she will be using the proceeds of the fundraiser to spend some time at home with her grandchildren, who she also loves to cook for. To those who participated in the fundraiser, she said, “Thank you to all the people that think of me … everyone wants to do work for money, but I also love what I do, even sandwiches.”
Link to GoFundMe: https://www.gofundme.com/f/the-sweet-hardworking-sandwich-lady