Caring for others in the most mundane ways through hard work, compassion, kindness.

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My name is Mike McFadden and I am the Turtle Creek maintenance man.  I have been working for Harborlight Community Partners (HCP) for over 8 years.  Here is my point of view on the work we do at HCP.

Andrew DeFranza, our executive director, asked me to give a few thoughts on my experience at HCP with regard to our company mission for our quarterly staff meeting. This is an odd task for me because my daily job in maintenance doesn’t normally find me pondering the philosophical underpinnings of our work. That being said I do think it’s important to regard that overarching ideal and try to find where in about the quality of care that we should strive for.  Namely, compassion, respect, kindness, hard work. This is the backbone of how to build communities.

It’s difficult in our day-to-day jobs to keep large picture concepts in mind and frankly, those kinds of themes don’t motivate me very much on a daily basis.  I can speak to what does, though.  

My role in maintenance is to take care of Turtle Creek. To keep the building in order I have to do many tasks, both big and small, and many go unremarked and largely unnoticed.  A visitor saw me sweeping leaves from a doorway one windy day and remarked, “That’s a thankless job.”  It is, for the most part, and that’s just fine.  Accomplishing a thankless job well is something to take pride in. We do the work because it needs to be done. No one ever donated to a nonprofit because their finance department can whip out awesome spreadsheets, or because the property manager got all the rent checks in on time.   We all, for the most part, have thankless jobs. You should celebrate that. When you input numbers into the cell and the bottom line comes out right, go get a high five from somebody.  All the walkways are clear of snow, go find someone to fist bump.  Take joy in small victories.

In maintenance I am part repairman, part janitor.  Another term might be custodian.  I feel this accurately describes what I do.  Take custody of your place. Say to yourself: “This is my building. Those are my residents”.  I’m as much a custodian of the bricks and mortar as I am of the people within those walls.  Care for your residents as individuals.  This part is not usually addressed but is so integral to providing homes instead of just housing.  Simple things like asking folks about their lives. “Where did they raise their families?  What did you do for a living?”  Let them show you pictures of their grandkids.  Share in their small victories.  I have a resident who goes swimming once a week and I always ask her if she had a great swim, not because I am all that interested in her lap times but because I know she looks forward to her time in the pool.  She’s always tickled when I ask and it puts a smile on her face. This is community.  

Caring for others in the most mundane ways through hard work, compassion, kindness.  Doing the thankless jobs well. Taking custody of the lives around you.  Celebrate small victories.  Keep sweeping leaves against the wind.  Thank you.

About our Guest Blogger: Mike McFadden is a lifelong Beverly resident and has served on Harborlight Community Partners’ maintenance staff team since 2008.