You can find them in all sorts of places around the city. They go about their assignments with determination, vigor and class. Whether anyone notices or not, they stay on task day after day. They do their jobs well. They care about the quality of the work they perform. The people affected by their performance matter to them a great deal. Discouragement comes and goes, but it never overcomes them. People turn to them in a pinch. They are reliable, stable, strong and present. These folks keep showing up. I call them unsung heroes who make life work in this community.
Take Ms. Enacia Lewis as an example. Ms. Lewis serves as property manager with the Dallas Housing Authority at the Roseland Homes housing development. The massive apartment community is nestled in the finger of land between Washington street and Hall Street east of Central Expressway just north of downtown. The property is located in one of the most historically significant African American neighborhoods in the city. Ms. Lewis manages over six hundred apartment units. Until just recently, she also managed the Simpson Place apartments near Baylor Medical Center. This smaller DHA property serves the housing needs of many adults who live on disability income.
Ms. Lewis oversees the safety, health, maintenance, management and general well-being of a housing complex where hundreds of men, women and children reside. I often refer to her as the shepherd of the housing development. What are the essential characteristics of this unsung hero?
- Consistency. Ms. Lewis brings the same steady, reliable performance to every day on her job. She cares deeply for the people she serves. She treats every tenant in a manner appropriate to the needs, situations, opportunities and problems each one presents. In short, people can count on this leader.
- Loyalty. Dont make the mistake of treating any resident of Roseland Homes in a disrespectful manner. Ms. Lewis knows when to go to war for her friends! Uninformed people sometimes make unfair and unwarranted assumptions about people who live in public housing. Ms. Lewis tolerates no such judgments. She is an advocate for those she serves.
- Genuine Concern and Individual Attention. Ms. Lewis seems to know everyone who lives in the property she manages. Recently, while in her office visiting about a joint venture, she mentioned the special needs of a 94-year-old resident. It was obvious Ms. Lewis knew everything about this aged friend. More importantly, she was willing to go out of her way to attempt to meet the womans needs. Ms. Lewis really cares.
- Hard Work. Ms. Lewis arrives early and stays late. She works hard at what she does. No one looks over her shoulder. She is the boss! She spends her life and her energy at the task she has been given for the people she loves. The DHA gets much, much more than an honest days work for a days pay from this community Builder.
To be honest, I hope Ms. Lewis never sees this essay. She would not be happy with me for turning the spotlight on her. She is happy simply doing her job, thank you. But, in a world seemingly starved for heroes, her life and her service to the community tells me we probably are looking for heroes in all the wrong places. The genuine heroes of our world dont make big bucks. They dont play professional sports. Rather, they are the people who show up for work. Often, they perform thankless tasks. They usually go unnoticed. They respond to the high calling of making our city, our nation and our world a better place in which to live. I expect you can find such a hero in your arena today. Open your eyes. Youll be encouraged and pleasantly surprised.