Employees recognized for 155 years of loyal service

Posted on Sun, 01/01/2017 - 10:30am

By Tracy Poyser

ArmandoIn our 500-unit vertical village, it takes many hardworking and dedicated employees to keep things running smoothly 24 hours a day. From routine maintenance to troubling issues, from garage hikers to engineers and Receiving Room personnel, janitorial crew and night-shift workers, from office management to security, from plumbing repairs to electrical work… every task and every hour spent is valued and important. It would be impossible to calculate the total number of hours, smiles, miles of corridors walked or stairs climbed, packages logged, elevators cleaned, cars carefully parked and retrieved, clogged sinks cleared, emergency calls answered, and doors held open. And, all of that is done by our great staff day and night, always with a smile, a personal hello and that invaluable “can do” attitude.

Here’s why this year’s employee recognition and holiday luncheon in the Windjammer Room on Dec. 19 was extra special: The combined tenure by eight staff honorees added up to an astounding 155 years of service to Malibu East. Organized by Employees’ Holiday Fund & Employee Recognition Committee member Sandy Chaet with the help of property manager Violette Deschamps and the Management Office team, this festive event featured a lavish self-service buffet complete with soft drinks, salad bar, appetizers, hot entrees and, of course, a variety of sweet temptations. Board members Martina Molins, Carol Beatty, Neil Warner, Art Arfa, Carl Stahlheber and Tom Vaughan mingled with the staff, with chief engineer Lou Colletti keeping things light with his quick wit and funny anecdotes about his crew.

While everyone was enjoying the meal, Sandy opened the “official” portion of the program by reinforcing what we all feel: “I have lived at Malibu East for over 30 years and have seen lots of changes,” she said. But, she added, one thing that has not changed is how our staff interacts with the residents: friendly, helpful, courteous, concerned and caring, above and beyond the call of duty. “Thanks for all you do and your willingness to be there for us. Whenever there has been a crisis, be it a snowstorm, power outage or other emergency, so many of you stayed on beyond your shift and even came back to help. We so appreciate what you do so Malibu East feels like a true family,” she concluded.

Lou Colletti echoed these sentiments, praising especially the honorees and the staffers who do their shifts day-in, day-out with a terrific attitude and sense of urgency when it’s needed. “So many people don’t ever get to see you guys, especially the third shift during the night,” he said.

Vice president Tom Vaughan then joined Sandy, Violette, Lou and garage manager Ali Saeed to present the 2016 service awards.

First up was the always cheerful Noel Raboza, celebrating an amazing 35 years as our senior maintenance wizard. “What’s so amazing is that Noel can get the worst news in the world and still doesn’t stop smiling,” said Lou. Since it seemed like only yesterday that he received his 30-year award back in December 2011, it looks as if he’s getting younger. “Must have been because I shaved my beard off earlier this year and am just now growing it back,” he told me. I’m glad, because that iconic beard helps frame his elfish smile and twinkling eyes. Not too long after immigrating from the Philippines, Noel started in our building’s garage in May 1981. He moved on to janitorial duty in 1988 and switched from night to day shift when an opening became available. Plans to retire are nowhere on his horizon. He sure showed off his best smile while accepting his plaque, letter of appreciation and gift card from Vaughan.

Next, two outstanding employees were celebrated for 25 years of service with plaques, appreciation letters and checks:

The first, Receiving Room veteran Norma Bolante, needs no introduction. Since January 1991, she’s been keeping track of packages, returns, checking in movers and construction crews, and getting to know each resident by name. She gladly shifted from manual to computer-based tracking of packages and notifications to residents by either email, text or phone, always making double sure that nothing gets lost. But, in the rare case a package is misplaced under her watch, she won’t rest until it’s found. Ever concerned not to leave her realm for too long, she dashed back to duty after a hug from Vaughan as soon as the applause had died down.

The second 25-year honoree was senior maintenance crew member Armando DeLaCruz, who came to our building in July 1991 through an introduction by colleague Carlos Morales. Lou pointed out (with tongue in cheek) that, in contrast to Noel, Armando doesn’t laugh, he just knows it all … all the while being just super helpful and knowledgeable about his job. And, when Lou’s right-hand man Mike was on sick leave recently, Armando was Lou’s “go-to” guy and indispensable to the team.

A quartet of loyal staffers received letters of appreciation and gift cards for 15 years of service:

Night-shift elves and brothers Froylan and Jose “Manuel” Sanchez were up first, with laudatory comments from Violette for their dedication and ability to grow through critique as well as praise. You can learn much more about them from the Dialogue archives online, August 2013, when they were profiled in our cover story, “The night shift – mystery of elves unveiled.” Manuel started in February 2001 and Froylan five months later, both immigrants from Mexico City who have made good lives for themselves and their families in the United States through hard work and strong ethics.

Then there’s our dashing doorman Gilbert Richardson, who excels in customer service, courtesy, discretion and diligence in admitting residents and visitors to our building since August 2001, never without a smile and cheerful greeting. Plus, he keeps a sharp eye on the guest parking spaces in the atrium, making sure that those 15 minutes don’t turn into an hour. He’s a true credit to Malibu East.

The fourth 15-year honoree was one who keeps us safe in our homes, a veteran security guard who blends in with our residents and, therefore, needs to remain anonymous in print. But, many of us know her, so please say thank you when you get a chance.

Last (but not least) was Bruce Davis, a 10-year member of our garage staff, where he started in November 2006. His boss, Ali, calls him an exceptional guy who provides fast, always friendly customer service. No one has ever complained about Bruce, and Ali sure hopes he’ll stay at least another 10 years. Violette, our property manager, added that our garage service is run much better than any other high-rise condo parking facility she’s come across in her career.

To conclude the program, Violette had the pleasure of distributing the annual year-end bonus checks made possible by our residents’ voluntary contributions to the holiday fund, which is allocated among all employees. “It’s a credit to our entire staff that the total amount again exceeded that of the previous year,” she said, expressing her personal gratitude to the residents and the Board for their generosity and caring. So, let’s all join her in letting our staff know that we value what they do for us – and not just now, but throughout the coming year.