One District of Columbia Housing Authority employee recently received a special recognition at the community’s annual celebration.
Semadra Watson, a property manager at Barry Farm, was given an Award of Appreciation by the Barry Farm Resident Council during the Barry Farm Day celebration.
“It was actually the day after my birthday. She [Rhonda Edwards-Hines] was very persistent that I made it to Barry Farm Day,” said Watson with a laugh. “It was a nice surprise.”
Edwards-Hines, Barry Farm Resident Council president and ANC Commissioner 8C06, said when Watson was assigned to the property, there were many issues that needed to be addressed.
“She knew that there was a task she had to take on and I applaud her for that,” said Edwards-Hines.
Watson, who has been with DCHA for six years, said the award means a lot to her.
“For one, it is beautiful. It is a glass figurine. [Rhonda] put her own personal touch to it. She likes butterflies and put a butterfly on it,” Watson said. “She stated she appreciated the work I was doing, for always being available to her and any other resident, and for doing my best to work with her and other residents.”
“As president of the resident council, I felt that whenever I called upon her for the community she stepped up. She was taking care of the issues that were going on at the property,” said Edwards-Hines, who added the community wanted “to show her our appreciation for when she went beyond the call of duty when she didn’t have to for the residents.”
She said Watson regularly helps with the coordination and pick-up of the food that gets distributed to residents. She also said that if there are bad actors that do not belong in the community, Watson will address the issue directly. If that doesn’t work, she follows up with the police.
“She is not one of what I would call the normal property managers. She doesn’t stay in her office. She walks this entire community,” said Edwards-Hines. “She will walk the whole property. She will make sure her employees are doing the work they are supposed to be doing.”
Watson said she approaches everyone with a smile, no matter the situation. She also listens to each resident’s concerns to get to the root of what she needs to address.
“I make sure I am responding in a way that they feel you are listening, you are concerned and you want to help assist them,” she said. “Each property has its own challenges. The common thing is that all the people want to be heard.”
Watson continued, “What is different here, you want to have the residents know they have a sense of what is happening during the relocation process. That is very stressful for them. You want the best for them. They deserve better. As manager, I have the opinion that relocation will be something that benefits them. That is important to me.”
Watson said she will continue to advocate for all of the residents, including those with softer voices. She said she hopes to be a resource for other housing managers who are in a similar position.
“Every day is teaching me a lot,” Watson said.