Doorperson of the month, Olalekan Odusanya, Presidential Towers

By Elizabeth Czapski, March 18, 2019

Olalekan Odusanya, doorman at Presidential Towers at 555 W. Madison St, started at the building in April of 2017. He came to the United States from Nigeria in 2016, and in his home country, he practiced law.

Olalekan Odusanya

Now, as he’s in the process of becoming a lawyer in the U.S., he’s enjoying his job at Presidential Towers, he said.

“This is a kind of customer service,” Odusanya said. “And when you have a positive impact on people, it gives you fulfillment, it makes you happy. People come through, you solve their problems, you make them happy, you make them smile.”

Odusanya said his duties rotate. He could be at the desk helping residents and guests with questions; he could be doing rounds and making sure everything in the building is in order and functional; or he could be at the front door, dealing with traffic, helping with baggage, and acting as the first point of contact for people coming into the building.

He said he doesn’t have a favorite role. “Everything I have to do, I have to do for the best of my ability,” he said.

One significant incident that sticks in Odusanya’s mind, he said, was his first day as a supervisor. The sprinklers in the building went off, and he had to work with the fire department to make sure everything went smoothly and that the problem was solved.

“Doing that on my first day as supervisor was a great challenge. It’s not the kind of thing you encounter on your first day, and it’s a memorable, memorable day,” he said.

In his free time, Odusanya said he likes spending time with his family and watching movies.

Odusanya said his passion for his job drives him to do his best every day. “If you are going into this line of work, I would talk about being patient. We have to be patient and have interest in what you do,” he said. “If you are not patient and you have no interest in what you’re doing, you can’t really give your best….when you have passion, you are patient and know what to do, you don’t think about the work…you just want to do your job.”

Tom Bohlen is the Streeterville doorperson of the month

By Elizabeth Czapski, Staff Writer

Tom Bohlen has been a doorman at 201 E. Chestnut St. since 2007. Previously, he worked in construction, but after he was laid off, a friend of a friend suggested he apply to the building. He’s been there ever since.

Morning is madness, a scramble to get residents out the door and on their way, into cabs and off to work, Bohlen said. After that, it settles down and he accepts packages and greets visitors.

Bohlen said he’s always been a people person, and his favorite part of his job is interacting with residents.

“I enjoy my job [and] watching people go by,” he said.

His most memorable experience as a doorman has been seeing the kids in the building grow up, Bohlen said.

Aspiring doorpeople should be attentive and polite, he said. Anyone who wants to work in the field must be a people person, ready to learn the ways and the routines of residents.

“Keep your eyes and ears open. Get to know people, what their habits are,” he said.

Bohlen said when he’s not working, he likes to golf and he enjoys spending time with his rescue dog, a red nose pitbull named Bear, whom he calls “Cookie.”

Bohlen was nominated for Streeterville Doorperson of the Month by Gayle Hargrove, a resident and board secretary of the building. She praised Bohlen’s dedication to his job and the building.

“In all my years as a resident, I have not known him to ‘call in’ an absence unexpectedly—including during the recent polar vortex when his train broke down on his way to work,” she wrote in an email. “Tom has an uncanny way of learning our (resident’s) habits…and always has a kind word to offer.”

To nominate your favorite doorperson, email info@neweastsidecommunity.com with the door person’s name and why you think they should be the doorperson of the month. Each winner will receive a $25 gift card to Mariano’s.

Doorperson of the month: Oladayo Taiwu

By Elizabeth Czapski, Staff Writer

Being a doorman comes naturally to Oladayo Taiwo.

“I no longer see it as a job. I just see it like part of me already,” he said. “I think that’s why I put in my best doing what I do.”

Taiwo, originally from Nigeria, has worked at 600 N. Lake Shore Drive for eight years. He works the morning shift, from 6 a.m. until 2 p.m. The security and customer service aspects of what he does are the most important, he said. That includes taking care of and assisting residents “the best way we can.”

Janice Avery, onsite property manager for the building, nominated Taiwo for Doorperson of the Month.

According to Avery, Taiwo, “is personally responsible for overseeing the inner workings of the building with over 1,000 residents. Increased resident traffic in the building, especially during the Air and Water Show, Fourth of July and our building parties, demands Taiwo is present and that our property stays orderly,” Avery wrote. “It is Taiwo who will go the extra mile in keeping confidentiality surrounding such events, while still responding to owner inquiries about the event, all done with class.”

Taiwo spends his free time cooking delicious meals. “I love to get myself a bottle of wine, cook, watch movies…I cook everything I can cook, a lot of African delicacies,” he said. “I like spicy food.” He spends a lot of time finding new recipes on YouTube.

Taiwo said he got the job because he wanted to do something good for himself. People getting into his line of work have to think about what their motivations are, he said. “Discover for yourself if it is something you really want to go into, or if you just want to do it temporarily, or just do it for financial purposes or whatever,” he said.

“Whatever you do, you just have to make sure it’s part of you,” Taiwo said. “I would say the best thing, is to enjoy it.”

To nominate a doorperson, email info@neweastsidecommunity.com

[Oladayo Taiwo loves his job as a doorperson at the North Lake Shore Drive residency and when he’s not at work, he loves to cook. Photo courtesy Oladayo Taiwo]

Streeterville Doorperson of the month Dwight Jones

By Elizabeth Czapski, Staff Writer

Dwight Jones, doorman at 400 E. Ohio St., said he has mastered the art of being a doorman. He better have—he’s been at it for 36 years.

Jones started out at the Whitehall Hotel at 105 E. Delaware Place, where he had to wear a top hat and white gloves. His colleagues there were the best of the best and taught him everything he needed to know to succeed, he said. The most important piece of advice he got was to always be prompt and well-groomed.

Guests on The Phil Donahue Show would stay at the Whitehall, and Jones said he met many famous people, including Aretha Franklin, Michael Jackson, Pearl Bailey and Elizabeth Taylor. The most memorable, he said, was Paul Newman, who showed up with a U-Haul full of clothes and shoes. Jones and a maintenance man unloaded the whole thing and were tipped generously.

“[Newman] wore a lot of velvet,” Jones said.

After the Whitehall, Jones worked at the InterContinental training employees to be doormen. He, then he worked at a few different buildings before settling at 400 E. Ohio St., where he has been for 25 years.

A typical busy day involves “a lot of packages, a lot of greetings, a lot of smiles,” Jones said. Many of the building’s residents have lived there as long or longer than he’s been there. “It’s just like home,” he said.

Jones said  he’s watched the neighborhood change a lot over the years. “I’m so proud of Streeterville, the way it came up,” he said. “Streeterville is the new big thing in Chicago.”

As a doorperson, Jones said he has to be ready for anything—and anyone. “You have to be in shape. You have to have a presence about yourself. This is not an easy task job. You have to be physically ready.”

In his free time, Jones likes horse racing—he’s been to the Kentucky Derby twice, he said. He also calls himself a “football addict,” adding that he’s played sports his entire life and loves the Patriots and the Cubs.

Jones also loves his job. To be a good doorperson, you have to “like what you’re doing, know what you’re doing, and be a professional,” he said. “If you don’t like what you do, you ain’t gonna survive at it, cause you’re gonna always think of problems to hate the job.”

To nominate your favorite doorperson, email info@neweastsidecommunity.com with the door person’s name and why you think they should be the doorperson of the month. Each winner will receive a $25 gift card to Mariano’s.

Streeterville Doorperson of the month: Tom Alaraj of the Millennium Knickerbocker Hotel

By Elizabeth Czapski | Staff Writer

 

Tom Alaraj, doorman at the Millennium Knickerbocker Hotel, has been working there since May of 1972, when he walked into the hotel and asked if they were hiring. Alaraj is Palestinian and was born in Lebanon. He arrived in the United States on a student visa on Nov. 6, 1967, when he was 19. He started out at YMCA College, then transferred to Loyola, then to UIC, where he studied economics.

In 1972, when he asked at the Knickerbocker about job openings, they sent him to the personnel office, where he filled out an application. Then he was sent to housekeeping, where he was fitted for a uniform. Alaraj was hired.

Alaraj, 70, comes to work at 3:30 in the afternoon and spends his shift greeting guests, assisting them with their luggage, parking their cars and giving them suggestions about things to do in the neighborhood, he said.

“I like my job because it gives me an opportunity to really do good to people and to help people,” Alaraj said. “I know the city; I know the neighborhood, and I think I’m good at it.”

Alaraj said he’s met many famous faces over the years, including Ronald Reagan, Oprah Winfrey and Hugh Hefner. He said Princess Diana shook his hand, and Andy Williams took him to his show, A Christmas Carol, at The Chicago Theatre.

Alaraj described himself as “very home-oriented.” He likes to stay at home and take “lots of long walks.”

As for people who want to get into his line of work, Alaraj said it’s necessary to like people and be tolerant of the weather, which can sometimes be “cruel.”

Overall, he said he likes his job and he called it “very rewarding.”

“I take pride in my job. I love my job. I like to do good to people, I like to assist people, I like people,” he said.

 

To nominate your favorite doorperson, email info@neweastsidecommunity.com with the door person’s name and why you think they should be the doorperson of the month. Each winner will receive a $25 gift card to Mariano’s.

Streeterville Doorperson of the Month: For Mark Cornelius, his job is a family tradition

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

 

For Mark Cornelius, doorperson at 850 DeWitt Place, the service industry is in his blood.

“My dad was a doorman for 30 years at 260 Chestnut [St.],” Cornelius said.

Cornelius is being modest about his father’s legacy. In 1987 the Chicago Tribune, wanting to know more about the profession, profiled Cornelius’ father, Lawrence.  Lawrence was quoted in the paper calling the job “a love affair” and extolled the virtues of the profession.

“Some of the nicest people I’ve ever encountered in my life reside in this building,” Lawrence told the Tribune.

The younger Cornelius has been a doorman for 20 years now. He’s been at 850 DeWitt Place for the last three years, and, like his father, he said he’s fascinated by the residents.

“I like meeting the different people from all walks of life,” Cornelius said. “It was very interesting to me…when I first became a doorman.”

Cornelius said a key to success with residents is proximity. Be friendly, he said, but don’t go too far.

“I get to get close to some people,” he said, “but I keep it professional and I don’t get too close to people and be in their business.”

For Cornelius, being a doorperson is more than working with families. Working in the downtown area, Cornelius said he knows regular professional folks, but he’s also seen his share of famous faces.

“I’ve met a lot of celebrities doing this,” he said. “It’s been a great ride for me, to say the least.”

Cornelius said it’s a great job for anyone who considers themselves a people person. The key is leaving personal problems at home, he said, and being a friendly face at the beginning and end of the day for residents.

“I would say just be happy,” he said. “Just have fun doing it. If you can’t have fun doing it, it’s going to be a bore.”

Of course, not everyone he meets is friendly, and sometimes even the warmest smile from a doorperson is enough to melt the ice of someone who is having a bad day, and that’s just part of the job.

“Sometimes you get some people that are hard to deal with,” Cornelius said. “But you just have to take the bitter with the sweet.”

Cornelius called himself a “homebody.” To unwind, he said he likes to hang out at home with his girlfriend and watch movies.

The Equalizer franchise is his favorite.

“I liked The Equalizer, one and two. I guess that was about my favorite movie,” he said. “[More recently] I saw Hotel Artemis; that was OK.”

To nominate your favorite doorperson, email info@neweastsidecommunity.com with the doorperson’s name and why you think they should be the Doorperson of the Month. Each winner will receive a $25 gift card to Mariano’s.

Streeterville Doorperson of the Month: Novan Williams

By Elizabeth Czapski, Staff Writer

 

Novan Williams has been a doorman since 1984.After six years at his first building, Williams found an opportunity he couldn’t pass up at 474 N. Lakeshore Dr., where he still works today.

 

For 25 years, a typical day for Williams has involved greeting people coming in and out of the building, dealing with packages, making sure people get what they need and always having a smile on his face, he said.

 

His smile is especially important to him—he said it’s his secret to success. Williams keeps his positive energy going by leaving any problems at home and coming to work happy.

 

His favorite part of work is “meeting new people, and the people I work with, and the people in the building,” he said. “I just love my job.”

 

In his free time, Williams likes to watch sports, especially football and basketball. His most memorable work experience is also sports-related. Williams met former Chicago Cubs player Sammy Sosa, who always took time to talk to him, when the baseball player lived in the building for a couple years, Williams said.

 

A veteran in the doorperson profession, Williams has advice for those thinking of getting into his line of work – “Just be honest and love what you do, and keep a smile on your face and a positive attitude.”

 

To nominate your favorite doorperson, email info@neweastsidecommunity.com. All doorpersons of the month receive a $25 gift certificate to Mariano’s.

 

Doorperson of the Month: Adam Traore, Lake Point Tower

To commemorate our new Streeterville paper, this month our Doorperson of the Month hails from Streeterville.

By Jesse Wright | Staff Writer

Published September 4, 2018

Adam Traore has worked at the residential high-rise, Lake Point Tower, 505 N. Lakeshore Dr. for more than two years. The person who nominated Traore complimented his passion for his job, and said he is “energetic, friendly, enthusiastic, helpful and he always greets you with a smile.”

Traore said he appreciates and is thankful for the nomination.

“I like helping the people, when people come in and they need information to go to a restaurant. I am very happy to help them to find a restaurant or give them information about the beaches,” he said. “And the residents really take care of me and that helps me do my job.”

Traore said he previously worked as a hotel security guard, and then found his way to working the door.

Traore works the afternoon and evening shift, from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. He said most of the job is helping people, whether they are residents or outsiders.

“Most of the day people come in and they ask to see their friends and family in the building, and so you make phone calls and they go up,” Traore said. “Or the residents come in from work and they have groceries and you help them take it upstairs.”

Traore said he would recommend the job to someone who is outgoing and a people person.

“I would tell them and go ahead and become a doorman,” Traore said. “There’s nothing difficult about it. It’s a great job in Chicago. You get to know a lot of people. You get to know different people and you get to know people with different back-grounds and it gives you a lot of experience in life.”

When he is not working, Traore said he has several hobbies, but mostly likes watching sports.

“In my spare time I mostly watch TV and a lot of sports,” he said. “I watch soccer and baseball and American football. And I go around, like a tourist, checking different places and places I’ve never been.”

Traore said he’s been in Chicago for 17 years, but that doesn’t mean he’s seen everything the city has to offer.

“There is always something new in Chicago,” he said. ‘There’s always some- thing to see. You’ll never know everything about Chicago.”

Doorperson of the month

Leslie Poston of Park Millennium

By Stephanie Racine | Staff Writer

Leslie Poston began working at the Park Millennium, 222 N. Columbus Dr., in July 2017. Prior to being a doorperson, Poston worked at the W Hotel, but sought a different career when overnight shifts at the W Hotel began to take a toll on her.

Since moving onto greeting patrons at the Park Millennium, Poston is happy she made the switch. Her favorite part of her new job is the residents. She enjoys meeting and interacting with their families, friends and guests. “It’s a more personal thing, because it’s home for them,” Poston said.

Poston appreciates the warmth her residents exude, and how they can inspire her. One resident who was diagnosed with a terminal illness seventeen years ago helps Poston stay positive by always coming downstairs with a smile.

“He helps me put things into perspective,” Poston said. “He’s pushing for life and he can still smile.”

Poston also gets a good laugh out of some of her residents, recalling a time one man had a skeleton painted on his face. “A guy got off the elevators going to the parking garage. I thought I saw a ghost face,” she said. “And he waved. I just started cracking up.”

Born and raised in Chicago, Poston enjoys many things about her city. She keeps up with sports, especially baseball, because her mother was a big fan. Recently, she began following the Blackhawks and wants to attend a hockey game soon. Poston loves the restaurant Carnivale and visiting the city’s many landmarks. When asked what her favorites were, Poston said she enjoys “Buckingham fountain or Navy Pier after hours. Or early morning before everyone gets up.”

“We really do have the best city,” she said.

Published May 5

Doorperson of the month

Bessie Stirgus, The Heritage, 130 N. Garland Ct.

By Reemaa Konkimalla| Community Contributor

Bessie Stirgus greets each resident at the Heritage with her hallmark warm smile and a hearty hello. Stirgus, who works the nightshift, has been employed at the Heritage as door-staff for 11 years.

Bessie Stirgus. Photo by
Reemaa Konkimalla.

Often, a resident will see her in the morning as they head out for the day, and come home
from work to be greeted again by Stirgus. Night duty is different from the day shift, Stirgus explains. “Peace and quiet envelopes you. But one has to be very vigilant of the surroundings and who enters the building,” she said.

Recalling a memorable night on the job, Stirgus tells of when she summoned the fire department for an emergency. An alarm sounded signaling smoke in the building and
Stirgus quickly and calmly notified management staff and the fire department in the middle of the night.Everything was resolved without major incident.

“I value the residents and love what I do,” Stirgus said. “That keeps me going.
I am also responsible for the security and the safety of the building’s residents.”

Stirgus has seen many Heritage families grow and sometimes move out. She said it
has been a fascinating experience for her to watch families evolve, and is part of why
she loves her job.

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