Loyola’s Wolf Pack: A Fundamental Part of Campus for Over 20 Years

The Wolf Pack, formerly The Loyola Helpers, have been taking care of Loyola’s campus for almost 20 years, creating a closer bond between the residents of Misericordia Home and the university.

The Wolf Pack, formerly The Loyola Helpers, have been taking care of Loyola’s campus for almost 20 years, creating a closer bond between the residents of Misericordia Home and the university.

The Wolf Pack is a program offering on-campus employment to adults with developmental disabilities. They focus on tasks like cleaning classrooms or maintaining the university grounds, according to the fall 2006 edition of Loyola Neighborhood News’ first announcing the program. There are two separate crews — indoor classroom crews and outdoor grounds crews — and the grounds crews typically begin in April, according to Tina Stendardo, Misericordia’s vice president of program delivery.

Accompanied by a chaperone, the Wolf Pack crews pick up equipment supplied by Loyola’s Facilities Department including microfiber towels, gloves and cleaning solution before heading out in search of empty classrooms they can wipe down, according to Assistant Vice President for Facilities and Campus Operations Hamlet Gonzalez.

Misericordia, Heart of Mercy, which is located in Rogers Park, is a Catholic not-for-profit home and community center for over 600 residents with developmental disabilities who it serves with on-campus apartments, social and recreational outings, and employment opportunities like the Wolf Pack, according to their website.

Gonzalez said he’s fairly certain Misericordia reached out to Loyola about first creating the partnership and bringing it back after a brief COVID-19 hiatus. Stendardo said Misericordia works with other grade schools, high schools and colleges in the Archdiocese of Chicago, but the relationship with Loyola has been special.

“Loyola gave us a chance over 20 years ago, and now we’re so intertwined and we’re really just so proud of the relationship and the friendship that has come about from Loyola,” Stendardo said.

The program’s name was changed from Loyola Helpers to the Wolf Pack to better assimilate with the university culture and be a truer and more dignified representation of what the residents do, Stendardo said.

Standard crew sizes are usually around five-six people with a cap of roughly 12-15 employees on campus at once, according to Gonzalez. He said the current size of the program is a good balance between effectively cleaning while also not disrupting classes during the day.

Gonzalez said bigger, open areas like Damen or Mundelein better fit the Wolf Pack’s nine-to-five schedule during the busiest hours on campus while not disturbing students in nearby classrooms.

“I think we don’t do a good job of notifying folks of who they are, what they’re doing,” Gonzalez said. “One year, I asked them to go and maybe just kind of — the IC gets a lot of usage — and the librarian’s were kind of caught off guard and going, ‘Whoa, who are these people? What are they doing?’”

Gonzalez said the Wolf Pack is treated similarly to other university vendors, which means little advertising is done to notify people of their presence on campus. The unfortunate side effect of this is Gonzalez said he doesn’t think most faculty or students know what the Wolf Pack is.

Stendardo said their relationship with Loyola is unique and reciprocal, describing the two organizations as “Catholic community partners.” 

“Sometimes people, their motives aren’t always as genuine as Loyola’s, right?” Stendardo said. “People like to be connected to our name and connected because we are well known in the field. But our relationship with Loyola’s always been genuine. We’ve never felt anything except support and respect from a partner in the community.” From a “strictly Facilities perspective,” Gonzalez said he’s glad for the extra sets of hands and eyes working to keep the campus in top shape despite the heavy use it endures.

Featured Image by Ryan Pittman / The Phoenix

Hunter Minné

Hunter Minné