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August 11th, 2008
Christian-based/community-building program for apartment dwellers

People who live in multi-family complexes “want more than just a place to live-they want a community of friends, a place to belong, and a caring touch.” That’s the way it’s stated on, the website of Apartment Life, a Christian-based nonprofit organization. This service group has developed a method to enhance what owners and managers can do to build a sense of community into the apartment experience.Apartment Life trains what are called CARES Teams that are, or will become, residents in apartments, managed by companies that have signed onto the CARES program. These teams work with fellow-residents and management, devoting 70 hours a month to their tasks.

Remarkably only one multi-family residence in San Marcos is taking advantage of this proven program.

For the past year and a half, Ellen Reed has been a CARES resident at Mariposa Apartment Homes, the only location in San Marcos that currently participates in the CARES program.

Reed says, “My main responsibility is to build community.” She describes her work in two ways:

First, she facilitates activities at Mariposa. This includes maintaining an activities calendar, planning and leading some activities, providing support and resources to residents with activities they have planned, and overseeing resident volunteers.

Second, she offers and administers assistance to residents and their families in times of crisis. An example of such help is, upon a family’s request, providing memorial activities at Mariposa for a resident who has passed away.

When asked about any significant difference between a conventional activities director and a CARES Team representative, she explained, “I have a regional director to intercede and advise me. I have Workmen’s compensation, if I need that kind of help. But above everything else, I have an umbrella of prayer from other CARE Teams.”

The stated commitment of Apartment Life is to “recruit, train and supervise the team, provide monthly activity reports to management, and ensure program goals are being met.”

Apartment Life’s website states that a CARES Team can provide “welcome visits for new residents, community activities, ‘Because We Care visits’ (circulating mid-lease satisfaction surveys), sports teams, women’s groups, Bible studies (at residents’ request), resident appreciation events, and general resident care.”

Mariposa’s Leasing and Community Outreach Director, Megan Ann Ford, comments, “CARES is a great program. They help bring the apartment community together.”

On its website, Apartment Life quotes management company officers, who praise the work of Apartment Life and its CARES Team approach. The website states, “Forward-thinking owners and managers see the potential in building authentic community to attract and retain residents.” The Apartment Life slogan is: “Connecting People and Community: The Next Frontier in Apartment Marketing and Resident Retention.”

Residents at seniors housing communities and others who live in multi-family, company-managed facilities may approach the manager about getting their own CARES Team. The manager would then approach the managing company. Then the three-step process could begin.

Step one: an agreement is reached between Apartment Life and the company that manages the apartments.
Step two: a married couple, a family or single adult is recruited and trained to become or build a CARES Team.
Step three: the trained personnel would begin their work at the apartment location.

[Caption for photo:] Mariposa Apartments’ CARES Team Leader, Ellen Reed, prepares for an evening activity with the fellow-residents she serves.

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