DEARBORN, Michigan – Did you ever meet someone who wasn’t afraid to tackle anything? If you haven’t, Oakwood Common’s Operations Manager Peggy Cottrell assures you that employee Stefania Chochol is fearless.
In February, Chochol celebrates her 11th anniversary as a housekeeper for the Dearborn retirement community. After only her first year at Oakwood Common, she was recognized as Employee of the Year. “I’d love to clone her,” said Cottrell, who shared that Stefania has only missed three days of work in eleven years. “She could be employee of the month every month.”
Former Welder and Hi-Lo Driver Wins Residents’ Praise
Chochol is more modest, and it isn’t until you learn about her family and work background that you understand why she is unafraid to take on new assignments. Before working at Oakwood Common, she was a welder and hi-lo driver at a factory in Troy. When the company was sold, she was laid off.
It was her sister who noticed a job opening at Oakwood Common when their mother spent a brief stay in Oakwood’s Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. She suggested Chochol apply.
“I learned how to clean from my mom,” said Chochol, whose parents were born in Poland. “She cleaned from the street to the alley.”
Chochol had cleaned private homes in the past but was unsure how she would like her assignment at Oakwood Common.
Her responsibilities include cleaning the community’s front office and resident services offices, library, resident theater, Rotunda Room and dining areas.
She also tackles the full clean of resident apartments. Oakwood Common provides residents with weekly cleaning services, and individual apartments also receive a thorough annual cleaning which takes the housekeeper almost a full shift to complete.
“The residents kind of grew on me. I never knew my grandparents, and my dad spent five years in three concentration camps during World War II,” said Chochol, who soon decided she liked her job. “These residents have been through so much during their lifetimes, and no one knows. Their hard work has made it possible for us to be where we are.”
Residents’ appreciation for Chochol is obvious, too, as she receives their hugs and praise. “Understanding residents’ needs is part of Chochol’s special ability to adapt to each person and each situation,” said Cottrell. “She can be softhearted or take charge when she needs to.”
One of Chochol’s favorite times is the daily “huddle” at 8 a.m. when housekeeping staff meet to talk about what’s happening throughout the Oakwood system, the community’s activities and their jobs. “We have a lot of fun,” added Chochol. Cottrell agreed and acknowledged it’s not uncommon for residents to hear and comment on their laughter.
Chochol is known to share her positive attitude with newer co-workers, “Everything’s your job. If all of us said ‘it’s not my job,’ it would be a disaster.”
Mary Granata, Oakwood Common’s director of sales, added that it’s employees like Stefania that have enabled the retirement community to earn an overall satisfaction rating of 96 percent in an annual survey of residents.
About Oakwood Common
Oakwood Common offers one and two bedroom apartments located at 16351 Rotunda Drive, within a beautiful 29-acre retirement community that includes exquisite landscaping, nature trails and scenic views along the historic Rouge River Gateway in Dearborn. Oakwood Common apartments, available with flexible payment options, offer exceptional amenities for independent living and can be readily customized. Assisted living and a comprehensive rehabilitation and skilled nursing center are also available for those with additional needs. For more information and to arrange tours, call 800-642-4663 or visit www.OakwoodCommon.org.