Tell us about the property where you and your wife, Dakota, serve.
We serve at a property in the middle of downtown Houston. It's a high rise, 24 floors tall. We are actually coming up on two years of serving this community.
You and Dakota build community in a lot of ways, the most visible of which obviously is events. How do you build community through hosting events?
You know, on the surface, it seems like, oh, an event is just a party, just throwing something together. But there's so much depth that happens at an event and so much underneath the surface.
"One of our favorite parts of serving with Apartment Life is the events. We get to connect with people's hearts in a way that we may not expect."
The phrase that we use a lot is that events create space for something to happen. Events create a space for residents to connect with one another and find meaningful relationships. There is a loneliness epidemic in our entire society. So, when we do events that create space for connection, that lets residents who might otherwise be very lonely connect, and it adds such value to their life, which is really fun.
How do you choose what kind of events? I mean, 24 floors, that's a lot of people with a lot of different interests. How do you choose the events that you schedule?
"Our philosophy is we that want events to, at the very least, do two things: meet a practical need and a relational need."
The practical need is what will get people there. A lot of our events have food, beverages, and activities. One of the all-time best events we've ever done was a bouquet bar for Valentine's Day. We find that people initially come to an event because it's going to give them something practical in their lives.
But then they stay because of a relational need, whether they call it a relational need, maybe a relational void, or just a relational desire. That's the reason residents will stay. And that's where community is formed.
So, when we had the bouquet bar, they were putting the roses and stuff together at a station, and there would be a couple of guys together, a couple of ladies, making these bouquets. But then they're talking about it, and, and then we're engaging them. "Hey, who's this for?" "Oh, this is for my mom." And so, all of a sudden, there's a relational connection that takes place. So, practical and relational, when those two come together, that, in our opinion, creates the best events.
What kind of response do you get from residents when you do events?
The number one response that we get is gratitude. Residents are genuinely grateful that we set up an event for them, whatever that might be.
And usually, they're getting something free, like food or a drink, and they didn't have to pay for it.
"But also, there's a genuine sense of gratitude and appreciation that they feel seen, they feel noticed, they feel cared for."
This interview was pulled from Episode 111 of the Apartment Life Leadership Podcast. For more coordinator stories and interviews, you can follow along at apartmentlife.org/podcast. Follow @aptlife for updates on new episodes and upcoming content! If you enjoy listening, leave us a review on Apple or Spotify. We can't wait to hear from you and hope this podcast serves as a helpful resource.