Banchialem Kereta, Building Services Worker III

Banchialem Kereta, Building Services Worker III
Posted on 06/30/2022
Waking up at five in the morning comes naturally to City of Lenexa Building Services Worker III Banchialem (BONCHI-allum) Kereta. Her early riser mentality keeps her body fueled to work from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. five days a week where she cleans Lenexa Municipal Court, Lenexa City Hall and the Lenexa Rec Center.

“I really like working in the morning,” she said. “Even if you’re at home in the morning, you’re going to kill the time by sleeping. If you came at six in the morning, you do a lot of stuff and by the evening time, you are free to be at home.”

Known as Banchi to her friends, she grew up in Ethiopia’s capital city of Addis Ababa with her parents and eight siblings. She watched her dad run his own business and she aspired to do the same.

“My dad had to work hard to give us everything that we needed so I learned a hard work ethic from him,” she said. “He’s an honest person. A hard worker and a good dad. I’ve always wanted to be like him.”

Banchi graduated from Addis Ababa University School of Commerce in Ethiopia with a business degree in purchasing and supply management. Soon after graduation, she was managing her dad’s traditional Ethiopian restaurant, Fasika (translates to “Easter” in Banchi’s native Amharic language), leading 25 employees.

Banchi with her family at her college graduation.“I learned how to manage people, how to handle situations, how to deal with customers and how to clean the restaurant,” she said.

In 2011, Banchi immigrated to the U.S. on a visa in search of a better life.

“After I finished college, I helped my dad with his business, and I knew I wanted to find a job to fulfill my interests,” she said. “Finding a good job in Ethiopia was hard. I knew I would have more opportunities in the U.S. and was ready to live more independently.”

Before her move, having a connection to someone in America was essential.

“If you come to the United States, you have to know someone,” she said. “We knew a person from Ethiopia who was living in Kansas, so we came here.”

When she arrived, she had a lot to learn. Learning how to speak English. Learning how to drive. Learning how to adjust to American culture — like eating with utensils — she did it all.

Banchi wearing traditional Ethiopian attire and participating in a traditional coffee ceremony. “If someone wants to learn, you should not be afraid, you should ask,” she said. "And then try to learn.”

Her first job in the U.S. was working as a cook at a local university dining hall where she made pizzas — something that quickly became one of her favorite meals. Banchi then took on a customer service role for a local grocery store and eventually got hired at the City of Lenexa as a building services worker I in 2018.

“Here, they’re going to promote you,” Banchi said. “That’s a good thing. It’s a good place, with good people and good benefits.”

Banchi has been promoted three times in the past four years with the City. Most recently, she was promoted to building services worker III in April 2022. Typically, as Lenexa employees move through a career track they receive additional compensation and responsibilities.

Banchi posing inside Lenexa City Hall. While most of her work is done independently, Banchi is part of a team of 12 on the building services division within the Lenexa Parks & Recreation Department. From sweeping, vacuuming and mopping floors to dusting and cleaning restrooms, building services workers are the staff who keep City facilities well-kept.

When the unpleasant parts of the job come up, Banchi takes it in stride.

“I just tell my mind that it is a part of the job,” she said. “Anything that happens, I’m going to take care of it.”

Being acknowledged and appreciated at work is also important to Banchi.

“It doesn't matter where you are or who you are, City staff are going to say hi and good morning to you," she said. “They care and give you respect.”

Banchi lives in Lenexa with her mom, dad, one brother and one sister. She speaks three languages (English, Amharic and Guragie) and has a knack for finding coins. In 2015, Banchi became a U.S. citizen. Banchi still hopes to own her own business one day.
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Published June 30, 2022