An ex-dining court worker who has worked to help create a culture of camaraderie among students now has these students working to help him in return.
David Berryhill, or “Uncle Dave,” as he’s known to students, started working in January 2019 at Windsor Dining Hall, but was let go in November. Despite being unemployed, he said he hasn’t stopped coming back to campus to meet students or inviting them to his apartment for dinner.
“Purdue University is my canvas,” he said. “The students are the driving force that keeps me moving.”
Though his easygoing, positive demeanor would suggest otherwise, Berryhill is currently struggling to pay his rent, as well as pay for his third knee surgery, to fix a torn meniscus. He said the students, or his “nephews,” as he likes to call them, have his back.
Jarrod Kopczynski, a graduate student in the Krannert School of Management, originally came up with the idea of starting a GoFundMe for Berryhill.
“When I stopped seeing him at Windsor, I reached out on Reddit to see if anyone knew him,” he said. “When someone told me his situation, I knew I had to do something to help.”
Kopczynski said when the GoFundMe started gaining traction, other students who were friends with Berryhill wanted to help expand the efforts.
One of these students was Andrew Morlote, a senior in the College of Engineering. He and Jarrod have been working on a larger campaign to create awareness of Berryhill’s situation.
“I first met (Berryhill) at Windsor when he walked up to me and asked about my skateboard,” he said. “Since I know about how much he’s given us and how much he’s going through, I wanted to help out.”
Both Morlote and Kopczynski are regulars at “OG Dave’s dinners,” small gatherings at Berryhill’s house where he cooks for students and they all spend time together. Berryhill said he takes great pride in his cooking skills, and even greater pride in being able to feed hungry college kids.
The students’ campaign involved putting up flyers in different buildings with information about the GoFundMe and spreading information about it on social media. So far, their campaign has raised $1,071, and they hope to raise $2,000.
Despite being an avid fan of Indiana University, Dave says he has nothing but love for Purdue’s campus and its students.
“Someone needs to show y’all love to help you build your confidence,” he said. “Students are a driving force for me, and it’s all about accountability for me. I can’t tell you guys one thing and turn around and do the opposite.”
“You are who you think you are,” is Dave’s message to students he meets with. “You can do what you came here to do, and I’ll be with you anytime you need someone to remind you of that.”