Tales from a Delta Gamma House Mom

Caroline Eldridge

When Cindy Clark thought of settling down at the age of 63, palm trees and piña coladas weren’t really on her mind. Instead, it was managing a house of 20 young women. Clark is Delta Gamma’s house mom at Wittenberg University….but whatever you do, do not refer to her as a house mom, something I quickly found out.

“Young Lady I am not your House mom!” said Clark. “When I think of a house mom, I think of a little white-haired lady that sits on her couch knitting all day and takes naps. Although I do knit that’s not what I do the whole day, I also play games on the computer.”

Clark grew up in Urbana, Ohio and lived there for 20 years. She then moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma and married her first husband. She got a job working for a non-profit and municipal government administration doing office work. Two divorces and a set of twins later, Clark moved back to Urbana to be with her sick parents and to raise her kids in a small town atmosphere. After her kids graduated high school, Clark worked in commercial property management. With this job, came a lot of moving around to places like Indiana, Chicago, and Philadelphia.

“I was working 60 or more hours a week and I was getting close to retirement age and thought well maybe I should semi retire.”

Clark was familiar with being a house director because she had worked as one for the Gamma Phi Beta sorority on Wittenberg’s Campus for one year before her job as property manger transferred her to Indiana.

After living in the Delta Gamma house as the house director for six years, there are a few things Clark has learned. There are good and bad things when it comes to being a house mom. The good things include making her own schedule, having a lot of free time to sell her jewelry and go antique shopping, and not rushing around and going to the office everyday. The bad things include when microwaves catch on fire, the gas leaks, the toilets break, or when Springfield neighbors want to “come over and hang out with the girls.”

Although the easy schedule makes this job look like a walk in the park, there are some times when she wishes she was anything but a house mom.

“There was a girl a Purdue who denied she was pregnant for seven months. One night she went into false labor. I went up to her room and she had been sitting there for two hours with her friends who obviously didn’t know anything about having a baby. I had to call the emergency squad and go to the hospital and stay there with her until they decided she was okay to leave.”

“Having a house director is not required, but is strongly encouraged and some national organizations do require it for their local chapters,” said Director of Greek Life, Carol Nickoson.

Nickoson says that each sorority and fraternity has housing corporations usually made up of alumni of the organization or they report to national house corporations that operate with the national fraternity or sorority. These corporations are responsible for hiring and supervising the house director and any other necessary staff.

Without a house director, Clark thinks it’s a big liability to have a lot of girls in one house without some kind of supervision.  She has kids of her own, so to say that is just the motherly instinct of her.

On top of being a House Director, Cindy is a ‘handy-man.’ Last week she even fixed a broken door-knob on senior Francine Murzysnki’s door. Murzysnki, who has lived in the house for two years has become close with Clark.

“Cindy and I have gotten really close since I have lived in the house for two years,” said Murzysnki. “She is always there when I need a favor, a handy man, or even just advice. She really is like a mom to us rather than someone who does this just for income.”

Although this is something Clark never pictured herself doing, there is certainly never a dull moment.

“If I want people to know one thing is that I’m here for them,” said Clark. “I’m not here to tell you to clean your room or judge you; I am here if you want to come into my apartment, sit down and cry, or whatever. It has been an enjoyable experience for me.”

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