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Allen Terrace’s director is retiring, leaving behind one big happy family
Sherry has served in the position since 2007. She was interviewed for the job by the late Sue Hooper, who was then chairperson of the Housing Commission, along with City Manager Pat Sullivan. Hooper set up the computer library at Allen Terrace, which is named for her.
Sherry came to the job with 16 years of experience in senior housing, having worked at American House as a manager who trained other managers. She started her career at the Willow Tree women’s clothing store on Biddle Street in Wyandotte.
As director, Sherry is responsible for handling leases for the 100 apartments at Allen Terrace. Office assistant Barbara Ziemba helps manage the office and greets visitors. Sherry credits Kevin Parks, maintenance manager, and Esther Martin, housekeeping, with keeping the facility clean and updated. She also relies on Margo Schmidt for additional maintenance tasks and oversight of the facility on evenings and weekends. Annually, she has contracted vendors to make major repairs or replacements, including updating the fire alarm system, the entrance ramp, parking lot, heating and cooling system, windows and more.
The facilities aspect of her job is balanced by the more nuanced role of taking care of the needs of residents age 55 and older. Daily, she is a problem-solver, cheerleader, and diplomate –creating a friendly, caring atmosphere. She wants residents to be happy living there – with a good balance of privacy and social activities. She takes a genuine interest in their well-being.
“I try to be positive at all times. Being negative doesn’t help anybody,” she said. “I really appreciate all the camaraderie here.”
She also interacts with family members of residents to make sure the residents are getting what they need – both physically and emotionally. She strives to understand people’s personalities and interests, so she can introduce residents to other residents and encourage them to pursue activities they enjoy. The building has a pool table, aforementioned computer library, book club, euchre and more. It also is a hub for Meals on Wheels with meals served in the dining room during the week.
Another part of her role is working with the Housing Commission, which meets at Allen Terrace monthly, September through June. She provides the information they need to make decisions about policies and procedures at the senior apartments. “They’ve been great,” she said.
She stays informed on a myriad of senior issues, from Section 8 (low-income housing) and the Fair Housing Act to managing finances. She also handles disputes that sometimes erupt in a community of different personalities.
There’s also a Resident Council that holds meetings for residents, many of which Sherry attends. They seek to resolve issues that arise and also plan social events, such as summer picnics and parties.
In her retirement, Sherry plans to visit with family and friends, vacation in Florida in the winter, and get her Lincoln Park home better organized.