Award Winning "Sense of Community" at Korman Residential at Cherrywood
Sunday, October 16, 2005 - The APTS
Too often, the perception of apartment owners, both in the private and public sectors, has been less than positive, with some taking the simplistic view that their sole purpose is collecting rents at minimal expense. But many, especially those who work in the industry, know that could not be farther from the truth. There are many reasons why they are classified as apartment "communities" as they affect the lives of not only their residents but also the areas in which they are located. Mike Beirne, Senior Vice President of Kamson Corporation, once said, "We need to be a part of our communities, not apart from them." While there are indeed numerous properties that are deeply involved in various efforts to do just that, one that continues to set the standard and is a shining example of all that an apartment community can do is KormanSuites at Cherrywood.
The property, a 460-unit community with a staff of 15, is located in Clementon and owned and managed by Korman Residential Properties. For several years, they have extended themselves for the welfare of not only their own residents but also for the entire region in which they are located. Their efforts have been rewarded by receiving the Community Excellence Award for 2004 from the New Jersey Apartment Association and more recently accepted the same honor from the Apartment Association of Greater Philadelphia for 2005, incredibly for the third consecutive year. Obviously, there is a special team spirit at Cherrywood that initiates contributing to virtually every cause within its reach. They know they can make a difference and consistently go above and beyond in demonstrating that.
"For the past few years, Korman Residential at Cherrywood has had a mission," said Stephanie McVeigh, Cherrywood's General Manager for the past 5 years. "Our mission is to foster such a wonderful sense of community that our residents never want to leave this little pocket of South Jersey. Even if they leave our apartment community to purchase a home or live in another apartment community, we'd like them to be so in love with this area and its people that they stay here. How do we do that? We think the key is a great community service program that encompasses five major areas: building community at our property, supporting local youth sports programs, getting our staff and residents involved with community outreach that extends to the local Gloucester and Washington Township areas, performing civic outreach in those same areas, and wellness outreach-raising money for local and national organizations to fight disease and raise awareness.
"The beauty of community service is that in doing it, we feed our own souls as we soothe the souls of those in need around us. This community service program that we've worked so hard to put together is so rewarding that it's hard to quantify. There's nothing quite like making someone else's day better not because you have to, but because you want to."
The entire Cherrywood team is always more than happy to offer their time and effort for a myriad of causes, both for the welfare of their residents and the entire community at large. Some of the more recent contributions include:
-They held a car wash at the property to benefit a local girl with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, raising more than $1000 in the process.
-There was a suitcase drive to benefit the Division of Youth and Family Services in Gloucester County. By making it convenient for staff and residents to donate, Cherrywood was able to collect a sizable donation, more than 75 suitcases, backpacks and duffel bags for those in need in the surrounding community.
-Collected clothes for Maryville, Inc., a facility for the treatment of individuals with alcohol and chemical dependencies.
-Benefiting needy families in Gloucester Township, Cherrywood's generosity helped make the holidays bright for 76 families (174 children) in the area with their annual toy and food drive.
-Arranged for members of the Philadelphia Kixx professional soccer team to give a presentation at the Wedgwood School in Washington Township. The Kixx players impressed the importance of staying in school on the children and also showed them a few soccer moves to up the excitement level.
-Held their annual Easter Egg Hunt for children 11 and under at the property. Children were invited to make crafts, have their faces painted, enjoy some snacks and bring some colorful Easter Eggs out of hiding. "The children had a fantastic time and the adults enjoyed mingling with their neighbors," said Stephanie. "Fostering friendships is an important part of having a healthy community, and there's no better time to do it than around a holiday."
-Donated $200 to the Gloucester/Salem Counties Board of REALTORS 2nd Annual Fashion Show and Chinese Auction to benefit the Leukemia Foundation. In addition, Cherrywood has collected cash donations from their residents as well as their staff for civic groups including the Police Athletic League, the local Kiwanis Club and the Washington Township Police Department K-9 Unit.
-Contributed to sponsorships of four youth softball teams (two girls teams, two boys teams) playing in the Gloucester Township Athletic Association league. Donations were used to purchase shirts and equipment. "We believe in supporting local area youth sports leagues that keep kids involved, motivated and out of trouble," said Stephanie.
-Contributed to sponsorships of three youth teams playing under the banner of Washington Township Parks and Recreation. Cherrywood sponsored two youth basketball teams and one youth soccer team. Donations were used to purchase shirts and equipment.
-Sixty toys were collected at Cherrywood and donated to the Township of Washington in the hopes that some needy children would have a merrier holiday.
-Provided temporary furnished and unfurnished housing to residents from a nearby apartment community when their units were destroyed by fire.
These are but a few reasons that demonstrate Cherrywood's commitment to serving the greater good. Though it entails hours of hard work, their attitude in doing so is selfless and fulfilling. Stephanie summed it up best by simply proclaiming, "It's fun!" And, it is apparent that with the enthusiasm the entire staff brings to each event, they make it a fun experience for everyone.
In addition, they provide a myriad of activities for their residents including a wildly popular summer pool party and events for virtually every holiday during the year. There are blood drives, food drives and they contribute each year to both the Toys for Tots program of both the AAGP and NJAA. They have won numerous awards in more traditional categories from the region's apartment associations but it is their continued civic contributions that are the most important to them and widely recognized by their peers.
"Everyone at Korman Residential is very, very proud of the 3rd consecutive community service award that Stephanie and her team at Cherrywood earned again this year," said Jim Korman. "Finding the time, in our busy lives, to help others is truly important. Just think about how our society as a whole would look if EVERYONE invested some of their time to help others in one way or another. Stephanie and her entire team should sleep well at night knowing the great contribution that they have made to OUR society."
Cherrywood's actions are an extension of many of the KormanSuites communities. Recently, more than 100 cases of bottled water was delivered to an armory for distribution to the victims of the recent Gulf Coast hurricanes.
Making a difference is what it is all about for the Cherrywood team and they continue to do anything possible for they truly believe in positively affecting those on site as well as the community in which they live. Seeing the above abridged listing of their efforts, it is no wonder they have been honored consistently by both the NJAA and AAGP. Most importantly, they are a shining example who clearly demonstrate what a powerful and positive factor apartment communities can be.
"We've given our staff and residents a chance to do good for others and weave themselves into the fabric of the community that surrounds our property," said Stephanie, proudly. "It's wonderful to live in an area where children are well taken care of; where youth sports, civic associations and civil servants are appreciated and supported; and where everyone comes together to help those in need, whether they be in need of food, clothing, or support for their health issues. The only way to live in an area with all of those things is to contribute to them. If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem. Korman Residential at Cherrywood is proud to be a leader in community service."