Plans to retire in the spring from her position with COHO Management Services Society were stymied by the pandemic but now she’s got her eyes firmly on the golf course
Congrats on retiring – again! Can you tell us about your COHO career?
I was just starting my 28th year, and was supposed to retire in June, but I came back as a consultant because of the pandemic – so my last official day was Oct. 15. In those 28 years I’ve seen a lot of people come and go. I started by working as an administrative assistant at Killarney Gardens Housing Co-op, and they had COHO as their management company. When a position became available at COHO a year or two later I became a coordinator. I had a lot of positions over the years, from Coordinator to Senior Coordinator, General Manager of COHO Repair Services (the maintenance division we had at one time), then I ended up as the Operations and Staff Supervisor, and ended my tenure as Acting Operations Manager. You climb up the ladder… so that’s what I did!
What did you enjoy about COHO that prompted you to stay for so long?
I would say it’s my strong belief in co-ops and the people at COHO. I’ve worked close to Halina Kuras [Director, Finance and Operations], and Michelle Cooper-Iversen [Chief Operating Officer] and they’ve always supported me, they really encouraged me. So it’s the people, and definitely the variety of work – you go to work and never know what’s going to happen. Things change, there are always different people to talk to.
There must have been a lot of changes in your work, and the organization (including five different offices), over your 28 years at COHO!
Watching COHO get into the computer age – that was really weird. We had some people say, “Ooh, computers are not going to work,” but here we are! And those old computers – watching how we had to change for the different programs like WordPerfect and Lotus. Now COHO has its own property management software, so things have completely changed. Of course, the pandemic changed everybody’s way of doing everything. We had to get used to the new normal; we’ve managed to all of a sudden go from everyone working on site to, within 36 hours, everyone’s gotta move off site and work remotely. That was a challenge for staff and residents, but it really showed us we can do this, and management was 100% behind us.
You mentioned being quite fond of the people at COHO – anyone in particular?
I’ve worked with my daughter, Chrissy [Miller, CHF BC Group Buying Program Administrator] for about two years. I think it’s given her a deeper appreciation for what I’ve been doing all this time. As a daughter she figured “Mom works in an office” and that’s it – I think her eyes were opened when she saw exactly what I did! But it was neat, we got to carpool and we lived in the same house so it was 24/7. We’re still the best of friends – go figure! I’ve appreciated seeing my daughter there, and seeing how she’s grown.
I’ll miss all the people at COHO. After all these years you get to know these people, you get to know their social and private lives, you hear about their kids from when they’re born and all of a sudden they’re young adults.
Anything else you’ll miss?
I’m going to miss the structure of getting up! It was nothing for me to be the first one in the office and the last to leave. I’ve got to learn that I don’t have to do that anymore, and I don’t have to read emails on weekends – I wanted to be on top of things and be ahead of the game for Monday. I have to learn to take it easy; my first week off after working for 45 years has been not bad, but it’s going to take time to get used to all this down time.
Any big plans for when you do get used to retired life?
I’m sure I’ll do some kind of volunteer work, probably with seniors. My mother passed away a couple years ago; she was in a care home and I saw they really need someone to come by and say hello. I’m going to hit the golf course and probably find a part-time job – I think I would be bored if I didn’t!
Thanks so much, Maryellen! We hope you enjoy your much-deserved time off. Please join us in wishing Maryellen well by signing the e-card here: https://www.kudoboard.com/boards/7yeonZgq