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How Can Time Go So Fast? 25 Years at the AAFW-NEI

How Can Time Go So Fast?

Let’s go back to Monday, June 17, 1996 and this twenty-something woman headed into an office for her first day, a little nervous and hesitant to start a new job. I never thought when I started that I would have made this my career, but look at me now! I have now held every staff position with the AAFW-NEI. Many of you may know that I actually was with the AAFW-NEI for about a year (1993) before I came back and started in 1996. So, this is my second tour - haha. In order to celebrate my 25 years, I am sharing memories/thoughts from my time at the AAFW-NEI … not necessarily in any order.

1. Every Summit Celebration – I love watching the nominee realize that they are the winner of the category. I try not to get “caught” so I watch from the back of the room, so I can watch in secret. Hopefully, you all forget this before the next Summit Celebration. It is great seeing so many deserving people over the years be recognized!  Every year, I say it’s my favorite year and then the next year happens and it’s my new favorite!

2. All of the wonderful members that I’ve met – I know it may sound cliché, but I have truly been blessed to have met so many people in the past 25 years and create lasting relationships.

3. Over the past 23 years, I have been a working mom and if you have children, you know how hard that is! I have had the flexibility to teach JA, be a room mom, and go on field trips. It may not be a memory of the AAFW-NEI but it has helped me make so many memories with Kellen and Elizabeth, and in turn be a better employee!

4. I can remember the first time that I was responsible for the Apartment Guide – I was so excited to be putting together the book for consumers and scared to death that I would make a mistake – all at the same time. The work that I did on the Apartment Guide is some of my fondest memories – going to properties and taking pictures, writing copy for the ads and being at the printer seeing the pages come to life. 

5. I remember Kellen and Elizabeth asking me why my voice was so different at work than at home. Well, I guess I have a nice, work voice compared to the mom voice. We still talk about how I could be disciplining them, and then my phone rings and I put on the nice customer voice.

6. I still remember the shock on Rose Newman-Clevenger’s face when I told her that I used to be scared of her! We were talking one day and I just kinda blurted it out and she was surprised! Maybe it was my insecurities when I started but she really did scare me! It’s funny now, because I know her, but early on in my days at the AAFW-NEI, that wasn’t the case!

7. I remember using spray mount and “creating” the OnSite before we had the software to create the newsletter digitally. At the Stoney Creek office I would go outside and use the hedge bushes as a “desk” and put it all together. Wow, have we come a long way!

8. Not one day is ever the same at the AAFW-NE I and that’s one of the reasons that I love it so much! One day I may be working on an event, the next day visiting members to updating our websites. I can say that I’ve never ran out of things to do!

9. I am usually an easy person to get along with, but one day several years ago, I wasn’t feeling the best but still came into the office. I’m sure that I thought something was important and I needed to get it done that day. After I heard “per the personnel policy …”, I ended up grabbing my stuff, not so quietly – I will add, leaving and zooming through the parking lot in my Mini Cooper. Someone may have tried to stop me, but I wasn’t having it and talked through a small crack in the passenger window as I rolled it up on her.  I shouldn’t have even been there at all and can laugh about it now – thank goodness the girls knew that I was sick and emotional, so everything ended up ok the next few days, but in the moment it was not funny! I think of that day when I’m not feeling well and shouldn’t go in the office.

10. Many of you may not remember Casino Nights since we haven’t been able to hold them due to changes in gaming rules. We had some great times! We had a Casino Night that was Roman themed and seeing members in togas was classic. I always loved Casino Night and mingling with members throughout the night. I learned a lot about members – some things I might want to forget – but it was always a good time!

11. I always love it when a member asks me for something and I say “well, I’m a digital hoarder, so yes, I likely still have that photo.” So each time I have helped a member as a result of my digital hoarding is a good memory.

12. I should never be allowed to set an alarm code – since I can never remember it. Thank goodness it’s on the app on my phone now! This one time in particular was a funny memory. Me thinking that I knew the code, I punched it in and well, I was wrong. With sirens blaring, I call Hope (she was off for the day) for the code and then promptly hang up, no “thank you”, no nothing. Good thing we can laugh about it now, but I was losing it and she had to once again give me the darn code as she had done dozens of times before.

13. I have so many great memories of those that I have worked closely with over my career at the AAFW-NEI. Working in such a small office, we tend to get very close. Tiffany (Frier) Holibaugh was just a few weeks into working at the AAFW-NEI and I asked her to read a pregnancy test. I remember asking her if it would freak her out, she probably was, but she read the test anyway! After she left and went to another job – I announced my second pregnancy to her by sending her a fax with two lines - lol. So many great memories that include Tiffany, Rhonda, Linda, Jane, Lynn, Beth, Christine, and Hope. These ladies got both the best and worst of me, but I will always treasurer my time with them and miss those that have left! I fondly call Hope my work wife! We’ve been together for 17 years – almost as long as I have been married to Brian.

14. Do you remember the story about the squirrels getting into the AAFW-NEI Office through a door in the basement fireplace? Oh my goodness – that is one of the funniest memories. I will have to share it on the blog when it comes up on my Facebook memories. All I can say was that there were two police officers trying to help us get two squirrels out of our office. Another one died while snacking on a peace Lillie. What a crazy morning that was and I will never forget it.

15. There have been so many events that we have held but one of my faves was the Carnival at Shoaff Park pavilion. It was so much fun seeing everyone with their kids and grandkids having so much fun riding ponies, winning prizes and eating cotton candy. I was lucky enough to even have some of my little’s (that what we call our great nieces and nephews) there to enjoy the afternoon in the park. I loved seeing the kids do the cake walk, play games and the entire atmosphere. It was such a simple activity but everyone really enjoyed it!

16. I love, love, love recognizing voices on the phone. It is one of my talents – this was before caller ID. I would hear a member’s voice and instantly know who they were. Maybe I have freaked a few people out over the years, but it’s always made me feel more connected to members knowing their voices!

17. Back when Jay Scott was the Executive Director, he made a fabulous key lime cheesecake. We did discover that this particular flavor of cheesecake made us a little “extra” at the office. We laughed and laughed and then laughed even more – even when things weren’t that funny. Jay would run through the office singing “My Sharona” and every time I hear that song I am brought back to some pretty fun days in the office!

18. Some of my favorite memories include shooting quotes from Forrest Gump from my office. It tended to drive Beth crazy, but Hope and I would just start a Forrest Gump day. “Lieutenant Dan you got legs”, “Me and Jenny goes together like peas and carrots.”; “I’m not a smart man, but I know what love is.”; “That’s about all I got to say ‘bout that.” – You don’t want to see Hope and I after we have had key lime cheesecake and on a Forrest Gump day.

19. Back in 1998, I was lucky enough to bring Kellen to the office with me for about a month. He was a great baby and he spent that time sleeping and just hanging with mom while I worked. When Elizabeth came in 2001, I knew that I couldn’t handle two kiddos and work too, so I spent my maternity leave at home with them. Thanks goodness I could meet my Apartment Guide deadline before I left on leave, even thought my doctor decided I should be on bed rest. I kept asking him for just a few more days …

20. Soda Can - If you know the story, you know. It was hilarious and it included soda on the ceiling. There may still be some soda on the ceiling in the kitchen on Lake.

21. Many of you may not know, but I teach a Renter 101 course at Anthis Career Center and Lutheran Social Services a few times a year. Even during the pandemic I was fortunate enough to teach over zoom. This is by far the most rewarding part of my job – I feel that I make an impact in people’s lives and give them information that they will use to help make their renting experience better. It’s so rewarding after a course when I receive an email from one of the students asking for help. I always tell them if they learn nothing else than reading their lease – I call that a win. The students get so tired of me saying – read your lease, oh and read your lease.

22. I’ve been in three different offices with the AAFW-NEI! I started out at the AAFW-NEI at Stoney Creek, and then we moved to Lake Avenue and now are at the Saint Joe Road office. I can tell you that we had to do A LOT of purging from Lake to our current location. There were a few days that I didn’t think that we were going to fit everything into the new space, but with a lot of support and help from Hope, we managed. One of my best memories was walking out of the closing table after the sale of the Lake Avenue location. It was such a relief to have it sold and it all fell together just in time before the COVID 19 pandemic!

23. This may be a memory for those that have worked with me over the years. As I stated earlier, I’m pretty easy to work with, but if you hear hard rock coming from my office – you may want to turn around, walk away and not enter! Hope definitely knows that if hard rock is playing from my office that I’m frustrated, upset or just need to be left alone for a bit.

24. Many times I’ve seen the association through the lense of a camera. Being the photographer of the AAFW-NEI for 25 years has been a lot of fun even though some members, I’m not mentioning any names, but there are some members that don’t like to see me come around when they are eating! There have been very few times that I have been caught in front of the camera!

25. All of the Executive Directors that I have worked with have made me the Executive Director that I am today. From Linda to Jane, then Terry to Lynn and Jay to Beth - I have learned so much from them and use tactics and skills that I have learned from them. I often think back to them when decisions have to be made and consider how they would have made it or reacted to a situation. I have been very lucky to have worked with so many leaders!

Thank you for 25 years of great memories!

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