Holiday lunch celebrates Malibu East employees

Posted on Fri, 01/01/2016 - 11:30am

By Tracy Poyser

It’s an annual ritual, but one that should resonate with all our residents throughout the year: Malibu East’s festive employee appreciation and holiday luncheon hosted by Social Committee chair Sandy Chaet and our Board of Directors.

This year’s event, on Dec. 18 in the Windjammer Room, featured a festive buffet of food favorites, from pizza to fried chicken, pasta, vegetables and, of course, lots of seasonal cookies and a special cake. In addition to Sandy, many Board members were there to mix and mingle, including Art Arfa, Carol Beatty, Martina Molins, Carl Stahlheber and Neil Warner.

It’s always so amazing to see the wonderful Malibu East staff members in one room, including the garage employees. They can’t all be there at the same time so as not to leave the building entirely unattended. So, Sandy Chaet, Art Arfa and property manager Violette Deschamps make sure to repeat their remarks for each batch of celebrants.

Sandy welcomed and thanked everyone, from our maintenance staff, headed by Lou Colletti, to the doormen and garage attendants, emphasizing that they truly care about our building 365 days a year and keep it humming like a well-oiled machine. Art thanked the entire staff on behalf of all residents for all their hard work. He assured them that they’re loved and appreciated – and promised that the Cubs would win the World Series in 2016. Violette expressed her gratitude for the hard work and dedication by each and every staff member during 2015. Their efforts resulted in many improvements in all areas, especially in light of extremely challenging projects such as preparing for and helping us pass the City of Chicago life safety inspection, a major victory for the entire building.

Sandy then had the pleasure of introducing the special honoree for the year – maintenance staff member Ruben Escobar, who is celebrating 20 years of service to Malibu East. Many of you see him regularly in his painter whites, carrying a bucket of paint and other tools of his trade.

Ruben moved to the United States in 1977 from the Mexican state of Michoacán, where he still has family. Although he spent 10 years in California’s Greater Los Angeles area, where his sister had settled, he ended up settling in Chicago, where a cousin, one of our former staff members, introduced him to Malibu East in 1995.

Ruben married his beautiful wife, Victoria, in Mexico 25 years ago. She and two of his teenage children – a son and a daughter – were at the lunch to cheer him; his other son couldn’t get away from work.

Ruben started here as a relief general maintenance staffer and became a full-time employee two years later. He learned his painting skills on the job, and it soon became a primary occupation that he loves. A building our size never runs out of paint jobs, but by far the largest project Ruben experienced was painting the tower’s entire east stairwell single-handedly, transforming it from dull gray to gleaming white. He has only started painting the west stairwell. His work fits his temperament – he’s quiet and enjoys working by himself.

Art Arfa did the honors presenting Ruben with his well-deserved special bonus, for 20 years of service, and others – including Lou – added accolades and the hope that Ruben would be with us for many more years.

Sandy alerted us that we’ll have nine honorees for next year’s celebration, including 25-year awards for Norma Bolante and Armando de la Cruz. We’ll have to dedicate an entire Dialogue to that presentation!

After all employees present received their bonus checks (thanks to the generosity of residents who contributed to the building’s holiday fund), everyone went back to their posts with smiles on their faces and, we hope, warm hearts filled with the knowledge that their hard work is appreciated and valued. Please don’t forget to express your own thanks to them throughout the coming year, especially when someone goes out of their way to be helpful.