About Jeannie Blevins as told to Hallie Woods
Small Town Big Personality
Through my whole life I have been through a whirlwind of events and great memories, living my absolute best life. I grew up on a beautiful 2-acre piece of land surrounded by fruit trees, a pond, and adorable animals. I went to small town Ada schools as a child and teenager. I am one of five children, with two older brothers and two younger brothers. We lived as a normal family would back in the days. We would all get up and go to school, come home and do chores, play outside, and do homework. My whole family was so close from spending so much time with each other. From working in the garden outside, eating all of our meals together and asking each other how their day was, and telling each other good morning and goodnight every day. My mom never had to work; she was always a stay-at-home mom growing up. My dad worked a government job for a company in Lima that made airplane parts for government planes. It was nice that he made enough money to support all of us, and we did just fine.
When I graduated high school, my father made too much money to get any help funding-wise for my educational career. I felt like that was okay, and I made other plans for my life. I decided to go work in Lima at a retail store called Elder Beerman. I started as a sales associate and worked up to department manager. When I wanted a change, I came to work here at Ohio Northern University. For the past 30 years, I have worked in the dining hall. I have done several different positions from waitressing to working on the food line. I am now the hostess during the day. My main job is to swipe the student in when they come in for meals, and if guests come in I help explain to them what the dining hall is all about and take care of them that way.
When I turned 50, I knew I still wanted to go to college. I thought I was getting older and I should do it now. That’s exactly what I did. I started taking classes at this university, ONU, part-time and was undeclared for a while. I finally declared a major in religion. On top of all of that, I worked full time, still in the dining hall, and went to classes in the evening and the summer. After eight years, I got my bachelors in religion, and for a wonderful gift, my father sent me to Hawaii for 12 days, including a 7-day cruise. I am very appreciative of the life I have and wake up every day telling myself it’s going to be a good day.
Working in the dining hall every day is super wonderful. I love that I get to wake up every day and have a job to come to that allows me to be able to pay for my living. I get to interact with the students, and they allow me to be a part of their lives, and I’m super grateful for that. I think of them as my extended family. When students come in, I want them to feel welcome and respected, and I treat them how I would like anyone else to treat me. You’re a person and you have feelings and have good days and bad days like everyone else. If I can put a smile on your face in the morning maybe the rest of your day will be good.
There is one couple in particular that I think of when students let me be a part of their lives. To this day I am still in touch with them. Their names are Elise and Jacob. When they went to this school, they were also super friendly to me, and I got to be a part of their lives together. When they got engaged they came out to my house to give me the great news and show me the beautiful engagement ring. I attended her bridal shower and got the pleasure to go to the wedding. Since then they have had a baby, and I’m grateful every day to be able to be a part of their little family. That’s what makes me the most excited about being here, the interaction with everyone.
Unfortunately, I haven’t made that deep connection with a significant other. I was raised in a very spiritual family and was brought up with the belief that you don’t marry until you realize it’s the right person and you’re going to stay married. I don’t believe in divorce, though it is a thing that happens in society these days, but I never found someone that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. With that, I don’t have any kids, but I think of all the students here at ONU my children that I see every day. I hope everyone feels the same about me. I would hope there will be happy memories that people would say, “that’s the lady that always smiled and treated us with respect and the golden rule.” I would hope people would say, “she was always nice and would talk to me and remembered my name.” I feel it’s very important to be connected personally with people and society today doesn’t do a lot of that and doesn’t know how to do that and it’s really important to have that human connection.
Both of my parents have passed away and it was very hard at first. While my mother passed, my father and I had a great relationship which we could lean on each other. When he passed, it was devastating. At the end of the day, I reflect on the time I had with both of them, and I’m extremely grateful to have been able to have the connection with them. That’s the most important thing I think of here at ONU, brightening the students’ days while still having to do my job.
This story originally appeared in Facing Our Futures Beyond High School, a publication of The Facing Project that was organized by Ohio Northern University in Ada, Ohio.