Three staffers honored at employee luncheon

Posted on Tue, 01/01/2019 - 11:30am

By Tracy Poyser

We know that condo community living frees us from pesky maintenance tasks, snow shoveling and other worries, but we may not realize how much hard work, extra effort, diplomacy, long shifts and diligence are needed to keep our 500-unit vertical village humming along, as many of our loyal staff people work behind the scenes. That’s why I wish all residents could experience the special joy of sharing a festive holiday lunch with our Malibu East management and employees, and witness the genuine affection and team spirit they show for one another.

With setup and preparation by Social Committee chair Sandy Chaet and assistance from Board member Carol Beatty and staff members Armando DeLaCruz, Bernard LaPinard, Fernando Romero, Terrell Norwood, Noel Raboza and Victor Noriega, some 35-40 maintenance, janitorial and garage staffers started the Dec. 21 festivities with a lavish noon lunch buffet – from shrimp and pizza to chicken, salads and pasta to a luscious chocolate torte and a medley of cookies. Since many of the staff had to return to work, the only bubbly was 7-Up, but that sure didn’t affect the camaraderie and lighthearted bantering.

Current Board members also took time out to show their appreciation for another year of exceptional staff service, among them Tom Vaughan, Art Arfa, Carol Beatty and Sandy Chaet.

When people started munching on desserts, Sandy asked property manager Violette Deschamps to start the “official” portion of the event and recognize staff achievements. Violette was enthusiastic in her praise: “Once again this year, the employee holiday fund contributions from residents exceeded the prior year’s total – a clear sign that residents return the love and caring our staff displays through their work, day after day. That recognition of what we’re doing is our best reward.” Violette said she’s happy that so many people stop by the Management Office not to complain or request service, but to compliment specific staff members, including our garage hikers.

Leading the 2018 employee recognition awards with 35 years of service was none other than our chief engineer, Lou Colletti. Violette praised his resilience and flexibility in working with staff on all levels. Handling so many day-to-day requests and emergencies requires tremendous skill, plus diplomacy and humor in dealing with (fortunately few) difficult residents. You probably know that he and his wife, Amy, live in the building – so, even after the end of his shift, he’s never far away from being on call. Judging from the rousing cheers and applause from his staff when Board first VP Vaughan presented him with a letter of appreciation and the accompanying bonus check, Lou is loved and respected by all. To find out a bit more about him, please check our website archives for the November 2013 cover story in the Dialogue: www.malibueast.org/Files/Dialogue2013-11.pdf.

Our second honoree this year, Fernando Romero, looks back on 20 years of service for Malibu East with much joy. Even though Violette has worked with him for only the past six of those years, she praises him as a grounded and smart man who is always discreet, with a “yes, we can” response to any reasonable service request. Although Fernando is a bit more of an introvert than many of his co-workers, he works well with everyone. Fernando was 15 years old when his family emigrated from Mexico to Chicago. Married, with a 15-year-old daughter and a 12-year-old son, and other family close by, he has no intention of working anywhere else, and we sure hope he’ll be with us for his silver anniversary award.

Sadly, our last honoree of the year, garage supervisor Shariq Abbas, who has 10 years of service, had lost his mother in mid-December and had traveled to Pakistan to be with his family there. Garage manager Ali Saeed accepted Shariq’s award check in his absence and couldn’t say enough good things about his right-hand man. “He’s just fantastic, always on call, helping in tough situations, and never saying no, even if I call him in the middle of the night. I’m blessed to have him as my garage supervisor and can trust him with anything, especially since he backs me up when I’m on vacation, and does the paperwork too,” Ali said, adding that Shariq is well-respected by his co-workers also.

Violette then had the pleasure to announce to applause all around that our office administrative assistant, Melody Keegan, had been promoted to assistant property manager after diligent study and exceptional performance. Everyone agreed that, in addition to being great at her job, Melody brings a ray of sunshine to our Management Office with her happy disposition and bright smile. Violette also congratulated Reliable Building Systems foreman Juan Corona for another year of hard work on the ongoing façade/balcony restoration project.

The last order of the day was the distribution of the holiday fund bonus checks, with Violette – assisted by Tom Vaughan – giving a warm hug and additional words of thanks to everyone. She gave special kudos for Receiving Room’s Jessica Walendsinski and Norma Bolante, with hardly any complaints about misplaced packages or late notifications in the past year. That happy task completed, Sandy encouraged everyone to enjoy some more food and companionship, together with warmest wishes for a wonderful holiday season and a good start to 2019.

It’s easy to remember thanking our staff during the holidays, but please remember to congratulate Lou, Fernando and Shariq when you see them, and alert the Management Office with praise for specific staff members whenever it’s warranted.