Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Saturday 25 September |
Saint of the Day: Bl. Herman “the Cripple”
home iconNews
line break icon

How a friendship between a business student and a janitor is changing a university campus

Andy Hogg/Unsung Heroes

Zoe Romanowsky - published on 10/20/16 - updated on 06/07/17

The "Unsung Heroes" project just may restore your confidence in social media

If you’re fed up with social media these days, here’s a reminder of how it can be used for good, and a story about bridging one of society’s great divides.

It began when a Georgetown University business student named Febin Bellamy and a janitor named Oneil Batchelor struck up a conversation in a quiet study hall one evening. They two learned they had a lot in common: both were immigrants — Bellamy from India and Batchelor from Jamiaca — and both wanted to be entrepreneurs.

As their friendship grew, Bellamy could no longer see workers on campus the same way — the minimum-wage earners who were dishing up cafeteria food, cleaning the dirtiest toilets, and working on the grounds. He realized they were just like his own people— like his parents who came to this country when he was 5 and worked low-wage jobs during the day, putting themselves through college at night.

Bellamy was inspired with an idea.

The 22-year-old took to social media — the language of his peers — and launched a page called Unsung Heroes, where he began profiling campus workers and introducing them to the students. At first just a class project, it became a fundraiser. Students learned all kinds of things about those who serve them everyday and have gone on to raise money for many of them. For example, a food service worker from South Sudan, who hasn’t been back to see his family for 45 years, was recently presented with a check for enough funds to return home for a visit. He is now planning his trip.

Batchelor, the janitor who helped inspire Bellamy’s idea and who was profiled in The Washington Post, has also been a grateful participant in the Unsung Heroes project. Students raised $2,500 to help him get his catering business up and running — a long-time dream of his — and also helped him get his web page up and running for Oneil’s Famous Jerk. (It probably didn’t hurt that they love to eat his food — he’s apparently a fabulous cook.) Batchelor told The Washington Post:

“It’s like the door has cracked open in front of me,” he said. “And I can smell the air coming through. The inspiration.”

Bellamy, who now calls himself a social entrepreneur, wants to expand Unsung Heroes to other campuses around the country.

Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
Cecilia Pigg
7 Ways the saints can help you sleep better at night
J-P Mauro
Chicago architect models Vatican City from 67,000 LEGO bricks
Philip Kosloski
Why J.R.R. Tolkien loved to attend daily Mass
Philip Kosloski
An alternative Hail Mary to Our Lady of Sorrows
Bret Thoman, OFS
Exclusive photos: Meet Padre Pio and the place he lived
Philip Kosloski
How Our Lady saved Padre Pio from a violent demonic attack
Cerith Gardiner
9 Padre Pio quotes for when you’re feeling scared or uncertain
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.