I stopped by my friend Cindy’s office today. I enjoy talking to Cindy about her work because she always has a few interesting stories to tell. She knows good stories because she knows her people.
Cindy manages a 118-unit apartment complex in Everett.
I visited to congratulate her on winning the Emerald Award last week (the highest honor given by the Washington Multi-Family Housing Association). At a banquet of 800 people, Cindy was singled out for the Social Awareness Award.
Cindy has distinguished herself as being among the top managers in the industry, with high occupancy rates, profitable operations, and very high results on customer satisfaction surveys. She has done all this while making herself and the property she manages available to people with real disadvantages.
There are properties that get certain subsidies and tax breaks that are mandated to help the helpless… but there are no such mandates for Cindy since her property doesn’t fit such categories (most of her residents are of the run-of-the-mill variety, while around a third are receiving aid due to disabilities). While other landlords might tolerate hurdles that keep folks out, Cindy has been in the business of knocking down hurdles. Sure… it takes a little more time, and paperwork, and patience. It often requires that she builds alliances with various agencies and caregivers, but it has resulted in a healthy community for her residents, as well as a healthy bottom line for her company.
In making the award, her industry took notice of her special efforts last year. Cindy saw that proposed changes in state law could hurt her most disadvantaged residents. So she made her way to Olympia to make her voice heard, and to give a voice to those who otherwise would not have been heard. She did it for the welfare of her residents, but also for the good of the community. The proposed changes would have put many out on the streets, clogging shelters, hospitals, and even jails. With her voice in the mix, legislators opened their eyes and ears, and reconsidered their proposals; the programs that would have jeopardized so many remained intact.
Cindy will tell you that she views her work as a significant part of her calling. She is a capable steward for her company, and also cares for the needs of her residents, including one of the most primal needs: shelter.
If you walk the complex with Cindy, you’ll soon realize that she is providing more than mere shelter; she is providing community. Her people look to her for advice, encouragement, direction, and friendship. She is not just manager; she’s also neighbor, sister, counselor, pastor, teacher, and sometimes even cop. In all of these roles, she considers it worship… she is caring for God’s creation and creatures with excellence. Cindy embodies what the Apostle encourages in Colossians 3:17, “…whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus…”
I’m really proud of Cindy and glad to call her my friend!