Le Nain. Some of you avid readers of the DISH might know just what this means, but for those of you who haven’t taken a French class, Le Nain is the French word for dwarf. However, that doesn’t mean that there’s anything small about Le Nain’s commitment to demonstrating excellence.
I went to the Le Nain and came away very impressed with the actions of the Le Nain staff, and their interactions with tenants. I was able to sit down and chat with Frederick Dionisio, Janitor, Nic Benzon, Maintenance Worker, Luzadel Timonera, Contingency Desk Clerk, Jack Maclean, General Manager, and Rey Regala, Assistant General Manager, about what makes the Le Nain tick.
It all starts with mothers. We all love our mothers, right? Well, how would we feel if our mother was a tenant at one of our DISH sites? That’s the approach that the Le Nain takes. “At the Le Nain, if you wouldn’t want your mom to move in [to our make ready-rooms], we didn’t do a good enough job,” says Frederick. “We make the rooms so clean that we’d be happy putting our own mothers in there. We do the same thing for interactions. We want to talk to the tenants with the same respect we’d give our moms.” That’s the standard that the Le Nain holds to: your momma should be proud of the job that you’ve just done.
That standard comes out when Rey talks. “Our staff treats tenants with courtesy and politeness.” Jack confirms: “Our maintenance staff are like magicians, they help each person who moves in to feel like they’re at home and to enjoy themselves.”
“We work as a team,” says Frederick. “We get things done better by cooperating, and being dedicated to each other. At the Le Nain, we’re like one big family. Someone gets sick, and we’ll cover for them. We watch out for each other.” Right after he says this, Luz chimes in with, “Yeah! Like yesterday morning Jason [Rodriguez, desk clerk] shows up sick. We just tell him to go home, and we’ll cover for him. I was available so I came in to cover. The team gets things done.”
The team is there for encouraging each other as well. “A lot of teamwork happens at staff meetings,” says Jack. “Staff help each other out. They can pass along a lot of information then as well as encouragement. I try to thank staff for what they do, because honestly, it’s painful. People go to the hospital, people die, and we’re there for each other. It’s teamwork.”
But how does this compassion and teamwork play out in each of the positions? Janitor, Maintenance Worker, Desk Clerk, Assistant General Manager and General Manager are all different enough that this commitment to demonstrating excellence comes out in different ways.
For Nic, this starts with a job well done, and quickly. As he says, “I finish work orders quickly.” And the tenants really appreciate him for this. As a tenant, wouldn’t you want your unit repaired as quickly as possible when something wrong happens. And it’s not just doing it quickly either. Says Jack about Nic “He’s interested in tenants and has a great attitude.”
“Greet them with a smile,” says Frederick. “I keep the place clean…I tell this guy to stay safe. This guy shows up drunk to our Thanksgiving meal, and he has trouble getting up the stairs with his food, so I take his food up for him, I help him like that. You have to show them that you care. They see that, and they become much nicer…like Jack says, for these guys this is a new chance, a new place to start. They’re used to living on the street, and this is a good chance to show them that we’re not like everyone else.”
“Greet them with a smile,” says Luz. “Get their name and get to know them. Respond to their needs by getting them in touch with people who can help. Keep locked in on the job.”
“Try to treat clients like a part of the family.” It’s Frederick talking now. “I get a cup of coffee at coffee time for people in wheel chairs. If I’m at the elevator, I’ll open the doors for them. Always treat people with respect. A little kindness goes a long way.”
As the frontline staff do their jobs, Jack and Rey do their best to ensure that they have the pieces needed to succeed. “The job of a General Manager is to have everything in place for the staff,” says Jack. Meanwhile, Rey sees to the front desk “and I make sure that it can function efficiently with the right materials and information,” he says. “Communication is so important.”
Jack wants to help turn the Le Nain into something amazing. “We want the Le Nain to be more like a concierge than a security guard,” he says. “Every step towards that is good.” Says Rey, “We strive to have personalized and customized interactions with our tenants.”
Demonstrating excellence in work and interactions indeed. Job well done! “I take pride in the work we do at the Le Nain,” says Jack. “I’m happy to be able to serve this population. Our staff does an extraordinary job.” “They have insight and compassion for senior challenges!” “The desk clerks communicate care needs to support services staff and provide tremendous help. Our maintenance staff are like magicians.”
Says Nic: “Tenants are like family.” “But we still keep professionality,” says Frederick, as Nic and Luz nod. “There’s still a line. We take care of them as much as we can. It’s about accountability for us and them, treating them justly, and equally.”
And may you continue doing so. Thank you.