And this is certainly the case for Libbi Stewart, resident manager of Twin Rivers Tower apartments in Point Pleasant. Stewart has worked at the Twin Rivers Tower apartments for 12 years, and during this time she said that she has formed many friendships with her tenants.
According to Stewart, prior to working at the apartments she worked as a nursing home administrator in Ohio. She chose to work with the elderly for a living when she went back to school after having her daughter. Originally, Stewart said that she wanted to work in nursing homes. However, because she had a young daughter she found it easier to work at apartments geared toward senior citizens.
“Knowing she was safe while I was working was comforting,” Stewart said.
She added that she fell in love with her tenants. According to Stewart, she is always there to help them with problems they have or to simply be their friend. In fact, Stewart described working with her tenants as the most interesting part of her job.
“Meeting the people that you put up as tenants is interesting. This is the step before the nursing home. They can come in here and be as independent as they want to be — you can see them blossom here,” she said. “They come here and realize that they are not done and that they can finish their lives and be independent again.”
Stewart described interacting with her tenants as her favorite part of being the resident manager at Twin Rivers Tower apartments. According to Stewart, she helps to organize bingo games as monthly birthday dinners for her residents. In addition, the residents help her plant flowers in the spring and take care of the patio year-round. Stewart also said that she likes to hang out in the lobby and talk with the tenants.
During her tenure as resident manager, Stewart said that she has formed many lasting memories. However, she described seeing advances in technology that allow her tenants to do more things as her proudest moment.
“I am proudest of the advent of the electric wheelchairs. You get to see more people out than you ever did before — they can go anywhere they want with the (wheelchairs),” she said.
Stewart described dealing with death as the most difficult part of her job.
“You build very close relationships with the tenants. If someone is sick we take care of them — it is a wonder how much chicken noodle soup I have made over the years,” she said. “I help (tenants) with their problems and read letters they don’t understand.”
Stewart described the main goal of her job as to help her tenants keep their independence. She credited her staff, which includes Harold Thomas, maintenance, and Debbie Patterson, housekeeping, in helping achieve that goal.
“There are a lot of people that hit 70 and 80 and feel like everything has passed them by. When (at the apartments) they take care of themselves by doing things like shopping and cooking,” she said.
She added that the biggest misconception of Twin Rivers Tower is that people view it as a nursing home.
“They don’t come here to die. They come here to live. When you are here you have to do things for yourselves,” she said.
According to Stewart, to reside at Twin Rivers Tower residents must be 60 years old. Disabled residents can be tenants at the age of 50. Utilities are paid and rent is based on 30 percent of the adjusted income. Stewart’s main tasks include re-certifing all tenants once they have lived in the apartments for a year, answering telephone calls and writing letters to tenants. She also is required to keep up with the new HUD regulations each year as the apartments are privately owned but HUD assisted.
In addition, Stewart said that her number one job is to serve as a friend and mentor to her tenants. Just as she encourages her tenants to stay active and independent, she urged others to keep busy.
“Stay independent and stay busy as long as it is physically possible for you to do so. Work as long as you can and stay involved,” she said.
(If you know someone who could be a potential candidate for an upcoming “Day in the Life” feature, e-mail his or her name and contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 304-675-1333.)
Name: Libbi Stewart
Hometown: Point Pleasant
Family: 22 year-old daughter, Cassi
Hobbies: volunteering, reading and camping