LaVelle Allen, Park Millennium
LaVelle Allen learned most of life’s important lessons as a child in Chicago’s Washington Heights neighborhood.
“My mom taught me how to communicate with people and treat people and be pleasant at all times,” she remembers. “She was a very outgoing person.”
Growing up with eight brothers and sisters, she had plenty of opportunities to perfect what her mother had preached. Now she puts that expertise to work as a member of the door staff at Park Millennium.
“You’re the first person the residents see,” she says. “You smile and they feel good about their jobs.”
Her natural finesse for the role’s responsibilities is matched by a strong appreciation for the building’s residents.
“I’m comfortable with my position,” she says. “I love the tenants. Our manager, Cindy, is great. Anything has to get done, she gets it done.”
The instinct to provide comfort and show respect has also guided her to more than just a successful career.
Before joining the Park Millennium, Ms. Allen spent 25 years in the banking industry. When she was working at a particular branch where she could see homeless people “right across from City Hall,” she began collecting donations to provide coats, socks, hats, gloves, and toiletries for those in need.
To this day, a handful of grammar schools and churches continue to benefit from her efforts.
“My father always said that if you give, you will receive,” she explains.
In 2009, after she retired from the banking industry, Ms. Allen lost her mother, Gladys, to cancer.
She recalls that, “I wasn’t taking it so good,” when a friend gave her some life-changing advice.
“He said, ‘hey baby why don’t you get up and get your resume together and I’ll help you get a job.’”
She got the job at Park Millennium on the same day she interviewed.
The man who suggested the idea was someone she trusted. He came from the same community where she had grown up. He had been a good neighbor for 42 years and a doorman on Lake Shore Drive for 25 of them. Also, he was her father-in-law.
“My husband Julius and I met in Mt. Vernon grammar school at 103rd and Morgan,” she says. “We have been together for 42 years.”
Together, the Allens have two children and six grandchildren. A seventh is on the way.
In her spare time, Ms. Allen operates a small business creating gift baskets and centerpieces, most of them for holidays and special occasions.
She started the operation as a creative outlet with a friend, but still enjoys the opportunity to tend to the needs of others.
“Kids like Disney toys, Star Wars, Batman,” she says. “So I put that in my Easter baskets. Grownups like wine and other beverages. The exotic baskets have liquor, glasses, and candles.”
“Whatever the customers tell me they want and whatever design they want,” she says, “I fix it.”