Staff appreciation luncheon - A timeless tradition

Posted on Sun, 01/01/2023 - 11:30am

By Tracy Poyser

LaTerry Dorsey As we begin another challenging year, with many uncertainties facing all of us in these crazy times, it’s heartwarming to know that one thing hasn’t changed: the loyalty of our Malibu East staff and management. Their untiring work and day-to-day dedication are what makes life in our building so enjoyable, and having (almost) all of them gathered in the Windjammer Room for the annual employee holiday luncheon on Dec. 16 was heartwarming.

Our staff members were seated at a festively decked-out luncheon table that took up almost half of the length of the Windjammer Room, with ample space in back for the delicious buffet of Italian specialties, fried chicken and plenty of fresh salads catered by Villa Palermo, 2154 W. Devon Ave. Of course, no holiday celebration should be without sweets – and the buffet included goodies such as cannoli, homemade chocolate cake and a variety of cookies.

The event was planned and executed by our Community Events and Recreation Committee, with committee members Vanna Edwards, Marcia Fishman and Linda Touchstone assisting committee chair and master of ceremonies Sam Bullock with setup and service, and Richard Westphal taking care of beverage service behind the bar. MECA’s Board of Directors was represented by president Art Arfa and directors Sandy Chaet and Carl Stahlheber, plus Dialogue editor Neil Warner.

There was an easy camaraderie and lots of laughter around the table, especially since our staff members work different shifts in different areas – from the garage to security to our mailman Carmelo – and often don’t see each other in the course of the workday or night.

Once most people had eaten, property manager Violette Deschamps got everyone’s attention by climbing on a chair to begin the “official” part of the luncheon: distributing the annual holiday fund bonus checks, an expression of gratitude by our residents for all the great service our staff provides throughout the year. It’s heartwarming to hear that this year’s total exceeded the 2021 contributions, as reported by treasurer Joan Scholl on page 10 of this issue. Violette complimented the entire staff on their outstanding performance this year, especially with so much extra work and effort needed to deal with ongoing construction projects and the still-present COVID-19 pandemic precautions.

Handing the microphone over to Arfa, Violette Deschamps stayed front and center to receive the first of this year’s loyalty service awards, including a gift card and a certificate of appreciation from the Board. She’s the first Malibu East property manager ever to be honored for 10 years on the job, with the last three especially challenging in light of the pandemic. Art hopes that she’ll stay on for at least another 10 years, and we refer our readers to the Dialogue’s December cover story, “A day in the life of our property manager,” for details on Violette’s background, tenure and personal story.

The second honoree, night doorman LaTerry Dorsey, whose shift runs from 11p.m. to 7 a.m., can look back on his 15 years at Malibu East. Anyone coming home late at night or leaving early in the morning can attest to his gracious and imperturbable presence. He needs his sleep during the day and thus had to miss the luncheon, so please congratulate him the next time you see him or leave a note for him at the front desk.

Then there’s a man whose 30-year service has provided us with security and peace of mind. He has to remain “undercover,” but if you’ve lived here long enough, you can give him a knowing smile and a wink. He blends in unobtrusively and wants to ensure we live in a peaceful environment, from the residential corridors to the common areas. He’s also the first person to be called in case of an emergency. And, dedicated as he is, on days during the pandemic lockdown when he couldn’t come in, he watched the live building security video coverage from home.

Finally, 2022’s most impressive longevity honor of 40 years went to assistant building engineer Mike Rostescu, chief building engineer Lou Colletti’s right hand and the best-ever problem solver, in Violette’s view. Please refer to the Dialogue’s July cover story, “A day in the life of our assistant engineer,” for a great glimpse on what his important job entails – it’s online on Rise (under Community>Newsfeed) or on our website if you didn’t keep your copy. Like his fellow honorees of the day, he accepted his award from Art Arfa to a big round of applause from the audience.

With the formal part of the proceedings over, all eyes went to a side table covered with mystery-wrapped gift packages of all sizes and shapes – our staff members’ lottery gift exchange. Everyone had drawn a number, and the person with No. 1 got first dibs on picking a mystery gift, followed by No. 2 and so on. Gifts were unwrapped with lots of hooting and hollering, especially when the recipients looked a bit befuddled, or happy like doorman Michael Morrow with his bottle of Johnny Walker Red Label.

We didn’t calculate the aggregate years of service by the entire staff, but given that it’s 95 years for Violette, LaTerry, mystery man and Mike, I’ll bet the total is 400 years or more (Violette distributed 34 bonus checks this year). Just imagine how much work that represents in service calls, hours of routine maintenance, cars parked, leaking pipes fixed, trash rooms emptied, walls painted, visitors announced and …

Let’s acknowledge staff members with a smile, a heartfelt thank-you and a kind word anytime, not just when we’ve had a problem fixed. They’re all members of our vertical village and part of the Malibu East family.