Annie "Pearl" Thomas, or as we lovingly referred to her as Pearl or "Mama Pearl," is someone
that comes into mind that deserves the Spotlight Of the Month Award. Pearl has worked for
the Office of Housing and Residence Life as a cleaning lady in Voorhees Residence Hall for the
past three years and worked up to the weeks leading up to her passing in Early April. As
someone profoundly affected by Mama Pearl, I feel the Spotlight Of the Month award would
be the least I can do to honor her and spread the word of Mama Pearl's vibrant, positive, and
kind spirit. Mama Pearl was much more than just a cleaning lady; she had so much to do with
the development and growth of residents of Voorhees Residence Hall for the past three years.
She was a wonderful soul that cared for her residents with true authenticity and sincerity.|
Her nickname "Mama Pearl" always exemplifies of how Pearl was a motherly figure providing a
strong support foundation for first-year residents who were homesick, struggling, or just
needed someone to talk to. Throughout my freshman year at Voorhees, Mama Pearl has been
someone that was incredibly easy to approach and have a conversation with. In fact, she
would be the one initiating the conversation and following up on your life and your transition
in college. Mama Pearl did not need to make any effort to go above her job duties to connect
and bond with her residents. It was just in Mama Pearl's innate character to get to know you,
your family, and your dreams and provide motivation and reassurance in your life for eventual
success. One RA would recall, "She would always come by my room, and she and I would talk
Another former RA stated, "Pearl, you always knew how to make everyone smile with your
singing and great stories. Thanks for being so supportive of us too." Although a custodial job
may be very humbling and unglamorous, Mama Pearl would walk and clean through the
lounges, bathrooms, and hallways with a smile on her face and singing a tune or two.
Residents would always have their doors open during the day waiting for her hearty voice
echoing through the halls in hopes to say hello and catch up even if it was for a minute.
As I left the Voorhees Residence Hall after my freshman year, I would always hear future
residents tell similar wonderful stories and anecdotes about Mama Pearl. If I was really lucky, I
would always bump into her during the day, and she and I would talk for fifteen to twenty
minutes, or she would honk her horn and wave at me if we saw each other on campus. It is
still striking of how much she remembers about me and the hundred residents she cares for
on such a personal level.
One person put it so clearly stating, "You have touched so many lives and you will be so
dearly missed." Voorhees Residence Hall and the Rutgers University - New Brunswick Office of
Housing and Residence Life have a huge void in its family. Residence Life always pride itself
for having its professional staff build relationships with their residents, and while Mama Pearl
was never required to build relationships with her residents through her job, I believe she did
it better than anyone else. Please consider this Spotlight of the Month posthumously for
someone who has made a profound impact upon the lives of hundreds of residents who lived
in Voorhees Residence Hall for the past several years.
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