Kelly Vohs is probably one of the most important people to know if you’re one of the 28,000 New Yorkers who live in Stuyvesant Town or its sister housing complex, Peter Cooper Village, which together comprise 56 buildings on 80 acres just north of Manhattan’s East Village.
Mr. Vohs is the chief executive of Beam Living, the residential district’s property management company, which is owned by the Blackstone Group, a private equity firm. He is also a former Green Beret, and has used some of his military skills to navigate the pandemic in his corner of the city.
Over the past few months, Mr. Vohs and his team have converted an empty storefront into a temporary food distribution and aid center, set up a 1,500-person volunteer network, put in place a financial hardship program, and dispatched the complex’s own ice cream truck to dole out over 10,000 free ice creams to health care workers across the city.
“I’m heartbroken because some people on my team have lost family members, including a wife, sister, and brother,” he said. “But I’m also proud and grateful to see everyone come together to help organize and fix things, because if you’re doing something one percent better than you did the day before, that’s progress.”
Mr. Vohs, 42, lives in Peter Cooper Village with his wife, Brandi Vohs, 39, the director of operations for an orthodontist practice, and their three children, Morgan, 15, Mason, 13, and Marek, 9, along with their three dogs, Mingo, Marley and Cooper.
BEFORE SUNRISE Normally I wake up between 3:30 and 4 a.m. I got a late start today because I was up late the previous night working on a video about the Stuy Town pantry. I cherish these early mornings, it’s my quiet time. It gives me a chance to read, meditate, drink a nutrient shake and some black tea.
MIND AND BODY During this quarantine, I’ve found that there’s too much screen time in my life. So lately I’ve been writing in a notebook. I like reading blogs and speeches of famous people. I often read about one person and jot down 20 to 30 quotes that jump out at me. This helps me get focused and keep myself in check. I ask myself what is my reason for being in this world? I do this in the morning to help me figure out what I need to do to be in the service of others and being focused on the “right now.” I then work out for about 45 minutes.
FOCUS ON THE FAMILY I walk the dogs and get a coffee at Starbucks for my wife. I cook eggs for myself and Brandi, but my younger son gets a strawberry smoothie with whipped cream and sprinkles. By 10 a.m., I roust the older kids to get out of bed. I normally never stop working and I’ve had hundreds of Zoom calls with my team about security, food, rent, deliveries. But I’ve been making a conscious effort to try and be focused to be present for my family during the quarantine.
PUBLIC SAFETY As I head to the office, I bump into my guys disinfecting one of the laundry rooms. They look like the characters from the movie “Ghostbusters,” especially with their backpacks of chlorine spray. At the public safety command center, I check in with a lieutenant to discuss the status of an elderly resident who went missing overnight. The over 3,000 cameras helped us work with the N.Y.P.D. to find the resident. She returned home safely.
LITTLE BOXES I check to see how the pantry is running. We took an unused commercial space and fixed it up pretty quickly by spackling and painting the walls white. Over the past four weeks, we have been getting deliveries from City Harvest, which volunteers then repackage into individual boxes. Anyone in Stuy Town can get a food box at any time, but most of the goods have been distributed to people outside of the complex. We’ve been able to pack about 2,000 boxes a week.
The whole operation reminds me of my time in the military, when I set up medical facilities in the middle of nowhere in not-so-nice places. I know what it’s like not to have anything so it’s important to me to be able to figure out what the problem is, and then solve it. Today it’s food distribution.
BIG THOUGHTS, SMALL STEPS I’m home by midafternoon so I play Mario Kart with Marek on his Nintendo Switch. Even though the whole situation with the coronavirus is a mess, I think in some ways it made people come together. I am especially thrilled to be able to have regular family dinners, which has made me extremely happy. Tonight we had a big bowl of our version of a Greek salad, with cucumber, tomato, feta cheese and olives. After dinner, I work on my video a little bit more and get myself organized for work. I think about what we’re all going to do when this is all over. Right now, I believe it’s about thinking big but taking small steps to accomplish the goals.
The post How the Manager of a Massive Housing Complex Spends His Sundays appeared first on New York Times.