There’s a very special group of people living in an apartment community in Abilene, TX. “They all know each other, help each other, and care about each other,” said Janet Dawkins,
Community Director of Lexington Court Apartment Homes about her residents when asked what makes her place unique.
Dawkins is a fan of author Peter Kageyama’s “For the Love of Cities: The Love Affair Between People and Their Places”, particularly his ideas concerning creating Love Notes which are “small, hyper-local and fun interventions” for the health and progress of a community. She wanted to find ways to adopt the concept of creating Love Notes for the residents at her apartment community to foster a sense of pride and belonging in the people who live there, and so far, she’s been amazed at the results.
“It’s a small community, and I think that’s why this experiment has been so successful,” said Dawkins when asked about the results so far. “The sense of loving and caring about each other has spread like wildfire and keeps growing here,” she said.
Here are some ways Dawkins has created Love Notes for her residents:
It’s the little things that matter
“I just try to listen sometimes, and pay attention to what people are talking about,” said Dawkins when asked how she thinks of ways to share the love with her residents. If it’s good news or challenging news, she said she tries to “share a kind word, or even a card with well-wishes sometimes – just something to keep their spirits up and let them know we care.” Since it’s a pet-friendly community, she also keeps dog treats in office to share with her residents’ furry family members.
If you build it, they will come
Dawkins noticed that some of her residents tend to congregate around the mailbox area, chatting as they wait for the postal carrier. “I thought it would be nice if they had someplace to sit while they’re talking,” so she had her maintenance crew build benches where “residents can relax in the shade as they hang out and chat,” she said.
“Having an involved and active community is a sign that you’re doing your job right,” said Dawkins. She likes to keep things hopping for her residents and she’s found that they are “ready to play”. A few of the many resident functions she’s hosted so far include:
Scavenger hunts – This spring, she hid Easter eggs around the property that contained clues to win the grand prize
Window bingo – The residents have a bingo card, she posts a letter/number combo in the office window daily, and “Bingo!” someone wins the prize when they fill in that magic row
Group socials – Many members of the community gather together in the clubroom for fun times, mostly centering around food themes like ice cream day, or a Texas favorite, Frito Pie day, where residents belly up to the taco bar and create their own Frito Pie extravaganzas. “It just makes my day to look around and see people eating, talking, laughing together… it’s what makes my job so enjoyable,” said Dawkins.
She also recognized that people tend to have fun in numbers, and, since they often like to go out together to enjoy the shopping, dining and green spaces surrounding the property, she helps to facilitate the outings from their prime location whenever possible:
Grover Nelson Park is within walking distance of their Abilene apartment community where they can enjoy walking, kayaking, and swimming surrounded by scenic views
Abilene Zoo and Botanical Park with more than 1,000 animals, beautiful gardens, a lake and park, is also just down the path for her residents
Rose’s Mexican Restaurant and the Lytle Lake Steakhouse are just two of the dining options to choose from to celebrate special occasions or just enjoy a simple meal together