The Independence is managed by The ELMS Group, a regional, family-owned and operated 55+ independent living development and management company with more than 15 years of experience in producing and maintaining the very finest retirement communities.
Ashley Lam, CAM
Ashley Lam, community manager, wears many hats and she is one individual who wears them all well. She keeps the community running smoothly by hiring and supervising staff, ensuring the equipment is running efficiently, managing the accounts, supervising the marketing and sales efforts and any other issue that may crop up. However, one of her favorite hats is working with her residents.
Often she sees individuals who move from a home where they have lived for many years and have made the decision to relocate. She likes to help them transition from one home to another. She listens quietly to their thoughts then helps them become involved in the community. “I work to provide them not just with a home, but a better quality of life.”
Ashley is happy to call Charlottesville home. She was born and raised here then moved to Ashland, where she graduated from the Henrico County School System. Later she returned to her home town, eventually accepting a position to work at a multi-family community where she stayed for seven and a half years as the assistant manager. She came to The Independence in May of 2010 also as assistant community manager then quickly assumed the manager position in the Fall of that same year.
“It’s enjoyable to get to know our people one on one,” says Lam. “ I like to hear their stories and learn about their lives. There are so many interesting people that live here from so many different walks of life.”
A well known adage is: “If you want to get a job done right, ask a busy man.” Residents of The Independence would definitely agree in the case of Srdan Popovic, maintenance supervisor. Srdan (pronounced Sur-john) is known throughout the community as the one to call to fix almost anything. He wears many hats at this community and each one well.
Srdan joined the staff in May, 2010 and has been working hard ever since. Every day his job varies greatly, but he remains flexible and willing to take on any project. “I really enjoy working here. There are so many nice people and they really take care of their homes so it makes my job easier. Everyday I enjoy working with my hands on new and interesting projects. Whether it’s a big job or a small one, there is great satisfaction in doing it well.”
If someone needs painting, plumbing or electrical work in his or her apartment a call goes out to Srdan. He knows computers so often fixes problems – both machine or operator errors! And he can be called on to help residents with mounting shelving, assembling cabinets and painting.
“Srdan makes the community run smoothly,” said Ashley Lam, community manager. “He is such a hard worker and doesn’t ask for attention. He never complains. He just comes to work with a smile on his face and does his job…very well.”
Sales and Marketing Director
Family is very important to Deidra Massie, The Independence’s new sales and marketing director. She and her family are very close knit. She spends every moment, when she isn’t working, with her two boys, ages 9 and 12, as well as with her mother in addition to the other family members. And she has a special place in her heart for the seniors at The Independence.
She speaks fondly about the importance of having relationships with her elders and how rewarding it is to her. Her mother taught her to be a supportive and caring, always willing to help others in the community. She watched carefully as her mother took care of Deidra’s ailing grandfather, a special person in her life. She saw how that dedication made a great difference in his life to be surrounded by a loving and caring family and knows how important it is to give back. So it wasn’t a surprise when she jumped at the chance to be a part of The Independence’s community.
Deidra grew up in Oxon Hill, a Maryland suburb of Washington, D.C. She attended the University of Virginia where she double-majored in psychology and sociology, receiving her Bachelor of Arts in 1993. She worked in the financial industry as an advisor for many years, often helping seniors with their short term and long range planning. For the past 10 years, Deidra worked for Johnson and Johnson as an area business specialist in their Pharmaceutical Sector. During her tenure there she also served in their Eldercare Division. When she is not working she also enjoys volunteering in her community and gardening.
Passionate about working with seniors, Deidra reports that they “teach you so much.” She enjoys working with them to find a solution to their needs as they downsize and look for something different in their lifestyles something more enjoyable and maintenance-free. She loves to hear their stories about their experiences and perspectives. “Seniors are a wealth of knowledge; they teach you many life lessons if you take the time to listen.”
Stop by the office at TI and you can’t help but notice the friendly face of our concierge, Jim McFarland.
Born and raised in Canton, Ohio, Jim has many years of experience in customer service. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Eastern Nazarene College, Quincy, MA with a major in business administration and his MBA from Rivier College in Nashua, NH. Since then he has worked in the printing industry, most recently as district manager at the Daily Progress. In this position he enhanced his customer service skills, working with clients and staff every day.
Ashley Lam, community manager, reports that the position of concierge is key for the community. “Jim spends much of his week assisting the many residents who make up our family at The Independence,” says Ashley. “In any given day he may take telephone calls, make appointments, distribute packages and newspapers, and help with questions and needs. He is an all-around problem solver.”
“It’s all about service, service, service,” said Jim. “I thrive on helping people and taking care of their needs being responsive to customers. Often today people are in a rush to get things done. I feel it’s important to take the time to communicate to listen and solve any problems…or just listen.”