New housing director takes on major projects
Posted on 03/02/2023
Jolyn Gismonde in the activity room.               Photo by Liz CezatThe new housing director at Allen Terrace has opened a new door in her career. Since starting the position in December, Jolyn Gismonde is managing facility-upgrade projects, learning how to interact with elected officials and the Housing Commission, and getting to know the 100 residents who live at the city-owned senior apartment building.

With 17 years of property management experience and nearly 23 years as a real estate agent, Gismonde has worked in many different venues – from houses and trailer parks, to apartment communities for all ages and those specifically for seniors. She knows how to process leases, appreciates the quality of good construction, and works well with staff and residents. These qualities made her a stand-out candidate for the role most recently held by Tracey Emmanuel, who retired.

“I’m learning the city way of doing things,” Gismonde said. “We need to go through City Council to get things approved. Agenda items must have reports that explain the request and may involve a bidding process before the request is presented at their public meetings.”

The major projects that she has inherited from the previous director and Interim Housing Director Nate Geinzer involve replacing interior doors at senior apartments, installing two new boilers, switching to a new internal garbage collection system, adding two cement sidewalks to exit doors that previously had none, and replacing the front sliding door. Plus, the entire building is using a new internet/cable service provider. She is working on bringing vending machines in to provide handy snacks, sandwiches, soups and beverages.

She credits her staff with making her move to Allen Terrace a smooth transition. Mary Foley is her administrative assistant, Gyorgy Zsiros is the maintenance manager, and Dan Weot is his assistant. Together, they keep the building in good working order and Mary assists Jolyn in making the facility a welcoming place for residents, their families and guests.

The community also has regular interaction with residents at Allen Terrace. Meals on Wheels provides hot meals in the activity room twice a week at lunchtime at a suggested cost of $3. Later this month, Northville High School student athletes will deliver Valentine’s Day greeting cards to residents and Northville Newcomers and Neighbors will provide a rose, paid for by AARP, to each resident. The Northville District Library keeps books circulating at the on-site library.

With an outgoing personality, Gismonde enjoys creating activities to help seniors engage with each other. At her most recent position at Baldwin House, she did monthly crafts and birthday celebrations, with support from sponsors. She plans to start similar programs at Allen Terrace and has scheduled a “Sip and Paint” event for the residents, serving sparking juice. This past Christmas, she and her staff threw a holiday party for residents in the recently remodeled activity room. It was a big success, especially for seniors who have spent much of the last three years avoiding gatherings due to the COVID-19 and its variants.

She welcomes the activities that are managed by the Allen Terrace Residents Council, which include Bingo, Wi bowling, card games and summer BBQs. Residents also have a say in how the facility is run and bring up any concerns they may have at those meetings. One resident also sits on the Housing Commission.

Gismonde enjoys interacting with seniors. “They are easy going. They have good stories and a lot of history, which are good to share with other seniors and those who are decades younger.”

She believes that residents are happiest when they can manage their own lives and not rely too much on others to do things for them. They truly value visits from family and friends.

Gismonde lives in Belleville with her husband, Rich, and they have two daughters, 19 and 22. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with friends and family, camping, riding a motorcycle, and shopping.