Julianah Komomafe said she had no idea the Cheverly government existed until an Aug. 13 fire destroyed her Cheverly Station apartment.
The day after the fire, Cheverly Councilwoman Carolyn Cook (Ward 6) and resident Rachel Dabney-Rice started work on a donation drive to help Komomafe, 30, and her roommate, Victoria Olorungbohunmi, 29, as a continued town effort to make renters feel included in the majority single-family community.
“I feel good, because it’s like a blessing,” said Komomafe, who moved into a new unit Aug. 20. “Anyone who reaches out to bless someone like that, it’s a good thing.”
Town officials, such as Cheverly Mayor Michael Callahan, have been reaching out to apartment management to get more renters involved with town events and government, including filling a vacant Ward 5 seat that represents a majority of the Cheverly Station apartment complex. Officials say that since renters often move after a short time, they aren’t involved in the community and aren’t engaged in government activities — and they hope to turn that around.
The town’s empty Ward 5 seat solely represents Cheverly Station, which has 570 units, but town officials have said they’ve struggled to find a resident dedicated to filling the seat who will be living in the apartments for a two-year term or longer. The last permanent Ward 5 council member was Vernell Johnson, who resigned in May 2010 because he was moving out of the town limits. There are no single-family homes in Ward 5.
After the Cheverly Station fire, residents flooded the local Cheverly Exchange email Listserv to say they could donate kitchen supplies, twin beds and sheets, Dabney-Rice said. Cook has a portion of the apartments in her ward and said she spent some of her vacation time contacting Foulger-Pratt, the apartment management company, and set up a drop-off spot for donations.
“They are a part of Cheverly, and we do care,” Cook said, referring to the building’s tenants. “They’re a part of our community.”
Lauren D’Ambrosio, the Cheverly Station property manager, said town officials have been instrumental in making sure the apartment community is included in events. Her management company, Foulger-Pratt, took over from Kensington-based United Investors in May 2011.
“It’s a really nice camaraderie that we’ve built with the town and our residents,” said D’Ambrosio, who has managed apartments for five years. “I’ve never worked so closely with a town before. I couldn’t ask for more.”
Callahan said management now delivers 500 monthly town newsletters to the apartments, and he said he hopes D’Ambrosio will inform new renters know about clubs, sports and local government.
“Carolyn [Cook] and I have been over a couple of times when they had resident appreciation events,” Callahan said. “We’re still looking for that sixth member of the council. I’ve asked the management to be on the lookout for someone who is willing to participate.”