Chris Drew has done a lot of things, including carpentry, plumbing and electrical work, and has pursued each endeavor with an impassioned work ethic.
Director of maintenance at the Orangeburg-Calhoun Regional Detention Center, Drew has been employed there since 2003. Every job comes with a challenge, but Drew said the challenges motivate him to be a better employee and keep the jail running like a well-oiled machine.
Removing clothes and other strange items from sewage drains is just one small aspect of his job, for which he is on call 24-7. He maintains perfect, on-time attendance and takes each of his duties seriously.
It is Drew's persistence in fulfilling his goals and any job set before him that earned his designation as the exemplification of diligence for the month of April as part of the Orangeburg County Community of Character initiative.
The honor caught him off-guard.
"I was very surprised ... but I knew who was behind it," the 38-year-old said, laughing.
"I can tell you that working at the jail takes 100 percent of my time. Some days when I get off, I don't even make it home before I turn around and go back to work. I've had to really pick up the pace and work a little harder being by myself. Now it takes 200 percent of my time to keep the jail up and going," Drew said.
"I've been called in 49 times in the last 90 days. It averages out to be once every other day, but I love the challenges of fixing something. ... Once the job is done, I like the satisfaction of knowing that I fixed it," he said.
Drew said he never knows what his workday will entail.
"Inmates love to flush clothes, bed sheets and basically anything they can get their hands on down the toilets. I have to handle sucking that stuff out, and that's probably 80 percent of what I actually do. By trade I'm an electrician, so I do electrical work as well as all the plumbing. Sometimes I have to do a little bit of carpentry," he said.
"You basically got to be able to do a little bit of everything in there."
A North native who resides in Orangeburg, Drew said maintaining a good work ethic is important to him.
"I've never been late since I started in 2003. I've called in sick two times in eight years. I've been sick more times than that, but I'm just one of those people that wants to be doing something. I know stuff is building up if I'm not there and that when I get back, I'll have more to do. Sick or not, I try to go to work," he said.
"When I started there eight years ago, the jail was actually in really bad shape as far as plumbing. I felt that I've had a big part in meeting that challenge and getting the other guys to pick up the pace to get it to where it is today. The jail was built in the early 70s, so it's an old facility. It just takes a lot to keep it to the point where it is now. There's always room for more improvement," Drew said. "I've been trying."
He said being recognized for his work ethic motivates him to do an even better job at the detention center.
"It makes me feel very good because I doubt my ability at times, but it gives me more confidence. Diligence, I guess, came from my first job, which was at Consumer Auto Parts. It's no longer in business, but I was hired as a delivery driver. I learned to be on time. Back then, I wasn't on time. My manager used to tell me all the time, ‘You have to be on time.'
"I guess the main thing that I learned is that you have to work to get to where you want to get. You always think things are so easy and that you can have a nice lifestyle and not have to work that hard for it," Drew said.
Drew said he loves his job and what the Community of Character initiative is doing to promote good character within the community.
"I think it's a good thing. I think it recognizes people that are maybe putting forth an extra effort."
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