This article is part of our 2020 Annual Report
After three decades placing residents into Victoria Park ʻs homes, everyone knows Patti. “The tenants know me, because I put around 95% of the people who live here now into The Village,” says Patti Thomas, our Senior Rental Coordinator. The Village, formerly called Queenʼs Terrace, is VPCHʼs high rise apartment building in downtown Hamilton housing 437 families.
Patti started her Victoria Park career as an Assistant Rental Coordinator on December 12, 1990. Throughout the past 30 years, not only did she help tenants move in, her kids grew up in the community in the Village as well. “Both my daughter and her kids, my son, his girlfriend and their first-born son lived here too. My daughter lived here for around 10-12 years and my son lived here for 3-4 years. My kids know everybody.”
It’s not just a job putting people into apartments and never seeing them again.
Patti also has a special bond with the people living here. “Itʼs not just a job putting people into the apartments and never seeing them again. Iʼve been invited for lunch and Iʼve had meals with families. I know the kids here. When theyʼre walking to Hess Street School, I get hugs from them all the time.” Hugs, and lots of them are something Patti shares often, “I do have some tenants out there that always hug, and we see each other on the street, we hug! Thatʼs just what Iʼm about and what theyʼre about. Thatʼs the kind of relationship with people I have here.”
“I remember when I first started, I thought it was great! I mean the first person I met was Betty who was the cleaning lady, and she also lived in the building. The atmosphere, and everyone working here is welcoming and everyone gets along” Patti recalls. “I still remember we were still using typewriters, and carbon copies!”
Victoria Park was a smaller nonprofit in the 90ʼs and Patti recalls what it was like. “We started to build new properties, there were probably around six of them, maybe around 1992. Victoria Park wasnʼt as big as it is right now. We grew probably a little bit in the 90ʼs to add more properties on by more developments, but we didnʼt go outside the box as much as we are doing now. The past 6-7 years the company has grown a lot, in a good way.”
“THE PEOPLE I WORK WITH, THE RESIDENTS I AM WITH, THAT MAKES THIS PLACE.”
To work for the same organization for 30 years, there must be something right about the workplace, and for Patti, it is the people. “The people I work with, the residents that I am with, that makes this place. I am happy with my job, I feel safe here, why would I go somewhere else?”
For the next 45 years at Victoria park, Patti hopes to see “a lot more building, because thereʼs a lot of people who donʼt have homes to live in. Access to housing and the waiting list is over 6000 applicants. We need more Rent- Geared-to-Income built, probably more RGI than market but we should always have a blend of everything.”
For Patti herself, “I just want to be with my family, take care of them, help them; the grandchildren especially. GG is gonna be here.”
Patti plans to retire in 2023, but even then, she wants to continue as part-time, or volunteer at the Circle of Friends, the English as a Secondary Language Program just down the hall at 155 Queen Street in Hamilton.