Two employees honored for 40, 15 years of service

Posted on Wed, 01/01/2020 - 11:30am

By Tracy Poyser

It’s a time-honored tradition at Malibu East: the annual staff holiday luncheon, hosted by our Board of Directors and management, for all those dedicated employees who rarely come together in one place. That means maintenance and janitorial workers, door staff, Receiving Room clerks and garage staff – currently a total of 38 full-time and part-time people, including our property manager, Violette Deschamps, and her assistant. And, with the garage and façade construction just winding up for the season, several Reliable Building Systems workers were also able to join in the Dec. 20 festivities in the Windjammer Room.

The delicious and beautifully presented buffet featured a variety of salads, hot and cold appetizers (including shrimp cocktail), Italian beef, pasta and pizzas, a bunch of sweet treats, plus a beautiful cake for this year’s main honoree. Since essential building functions can’t be left unattended, food was served from noon to 2 p.m. to allow everyone to partake and be acknowledged and thanked.

As always, Social Committee chair Sandy Chaet choreographed the flow of the program, with Board members Arthur Arfa, Carol Beatty, Martina Molins and Tom Vaughan on hand to express thanks and appreciation on behalf of all residents. Also, the many cards and personal notes from residents to our employees were available for all to read.

Nothing is more heartwarming than the annual Malibu East employee service awards, with first vice president Tom Vaughan helping to recognize two very special people this year.

Celebrated for 15 years of service was garage attendant Daniel Bacerra. Garage manager Ali Saeed gives him high praise as just an outstanding guy whose motto is “no problem,” even when it’s parking and retrieving 50 guest vehicles for a party. In addition, he’s staying cool, calm and composed while dealing with the extra challenge of shuttling cars (and placating impatient residents) during our garage construction. Daniel was born in the Philippines and was only 3½ years old when his family moved to the U.S. He was transferred to Malibu East from another residential building garage in 2004. I had asked him five years ago what he liked best about his job, and his answer hasn’t changed – it’s the day-to-day contact with his customers, and the support and camaraderie of his fellow employees. As you can see from the accompanying photo, he accepted the special bonus he received from Vaughan with a beaming smile and is already looking forward to his 20th anniversary at Malibu East (by which time he hopes our garage construction will be over!).

But, the man of the hour was our maintenance worker Carlos Morales, who was being honored for a remarkable 40 years of service. Accompanied by his wife, Carmen, his oldest son and a precious granddaughter dressed like a little princess, he was clearly moved by all the well-deserved accolades and warmhearted ribbing he received, starting with Sandy Chaet recalling a couple of anecdotes from a January 2011 Dialogue cover story of Carlos’ 30th service anniversary. There’s one from his first year at Malibu East when he still worked in the garage. One time, not being a very tall man, he moved a car and ducked a bit behind the wheel, terrorizing his co-workers into believing the vehicle was a runaway.

Chief engineer Lou Colletti, who’s been working with Carlos for 36 years, told him that retiring was out of the question – unless he puts in another 40 years of service. But, Carlos says, that’s unlikely because he’s planning to take his wife to a different country every year after he retires.

Violette Deschamps praises Carlos for his tenacity with every task, big or small, holding on and not releasing until a job is done. “He’s so focused sometimes that he forgets to punch out … and 40 years is an amazingly long time to be happy and invariably make your employer and co-workers happy,” she concluded. Carlos, in turn, tells me that our residents make it easy for him to stay here and feel that their home is his home also.

Here’s a bit of background (you can read more in both the January 2011 and January 2015 issues of the Dialogue at www.malibueast.org/dialogue)

One of 16 children, Carlos was born in the State of Michoacán, and his family moved to Mexico City when he was about four. He started working to help support the family at a very young age, from shining shoes to selling newspapers. He moved to Chicago at the age of 20 after mandated military service, joining an older brother. He worked 12 hours a day at an Evanston hotel from 1977-79. So, to find something better, he spent a whole day walking from Howard Street to Hollywood along Sheridan Road, applying for work in every condo and commercial building along the way – and Malibu East lucked out hiring him.

After working about a year in the garage and then doing janitorial outside work and night shifts for the building, he moved on to regular daytime shifts, with a great variety of both inside and outside jobs, and frequent emergency clean-up and special service needs. He loves making our outside entrance and atrium area look beautiful, from stringing those twinkling white lights for the holidays to cutting the grass and planting seasonal flowers. He’s been a U.S. citizen for some years now, and although he loves to visit his home country and has close ties to relatives there, his life is in Chicago, and his colleagues at Malibu East are his extended family.

Back to the awards ceremony. After a resounding cheer for Carlos from the entire assembly, he and Carmen joined hands to cut his special cake with its beautiful frosting and inscription. It was as delicious as it looked.

The program ended with general cheers as Violette distributed the annual employee bonuses from the voluntary contributions received from residents and nonresident owners, with amounts allocated to staff members based on their years of service and salary level. It was good to hear that this year’s total contributions were in line with those received the previous year – demonstrating that our residents value and appreciate the tireless work of all Malibu East employees, including “elves” who do much of their work unseen by most of us. By the way, our competent Management Office temp Scott Turton is sorry to leave what he said was the nicest staff and residents and smoothest-run building he’s seen in any assignment. Who knows – maybe we’ll see him back here in one of those start-up jobs around the building.

Let’s all remember to say thanks to our staff, not just during the holidays, but also during the rest of the year – and please congratulate Carlos and Dan as we begin a new decade.