By Alice Huth-Derrah
The daily behind-the-scenes operations of a church is something most of us don’t normally think much about, if at all. Jeff Adams is the lead person in charge of maintenance at the parish, and it’s thanks to highly skilled individuals like Jeff, along with co-workers Frank and Jason, that parishioners enjoy lovely, inviting church grounds and the beautiful place of worship that is St. Elizabeth Seton.
Jeff was born in Chicago, Illinois, and grew up with his two sisters and a brother (Jeff’s in the middle) in Hanover Park, a suburb just 30 miles northwest of Chicago. Having always possessed a keen interest in all things mechanical, Jeff describes himself as mostly “self-taught,” though he also learned from “watching dad.” After high school, he began working in the maintenance field, building skills that included the ability to work with electrical and plumbing systems, and for a while he even fabricated construction trailers. Jeff’s immediate family, with the exception of his dad who passed away in 1996, still live in Illinois.
While still living in Chicago, one New Year’s Eve Jeff met Kim, and they exchanged phone numbers. Upon attempting to reach Kim, Jeff discovered he didn’t have her correct number and had no other way to reach her. A month later, they had a chance meeting in downtown Chicago, decided it must be fate, and were engaged eight months later. They have been happily married for 25 years now. Though they have no children, they consider their rescue dog Mazey, who is a terrier mix and very “high energy,” their baby.
Like so many people who have relocated to Arizona, Jeff and Kim moved here from Chicago in 2010 for “warmer weather and to improve health.” Jeff worked at Home Depot prior to being hired at St. Elizabeth Seton. He has held his position at the church for almost three years. Jeff describes his main responsibilities as “general building maintenance” and ensuring that everything is “functional” both inside and outside. He begins his day early, getting up at 4:45 a.m., and arrives at work by 6:00 and “unlocks gates and opens all doors.” He then conducts a “daily inspection” by “walking around” the church buildings and surrounding property to detect any obvious problems that require attention. Lighting, plumbing, and electrical fixtures are examined and any needed repairs are completed. He also helps with remodeling projects such as putting in molding and painting, orders necessary supplies, and assists in the placement of holiday decorations in and around the church, such as wreaths and the outside nativity scene during the Christmas season. These are just a few of the variety of duties the job entails from day to day.
When Jeff has time off from his responsibilities at St. Elizabeth Seton and Kim from her work as a Special Education Teacher, they enjoy spending time with many of Kim’s family members, who moved here to be closer to them. Kim has cousins living in Sun City and her mom attends Mass at St. Elizabeth Seton. Jeff and Kim also enjoy hiking, often taking on Camelback Mountain a couple of times a year. They are “very devoted fans” of the Chicago Bears, Bulls, Blackhawks, and Cubs and “watch the games regularly.” Jeff says one of the main reasons he enjoys working at St. Elizabeth is interacting with the wonderful parishioners and staff members. “I’m an old soul and a people person” he tells me, and being able to engage with this vibrant church community is an added benefit of working at St. Elizabeth Seton Parish.