Doorperson of the Month: Zack Gardner, Park Millennium

by Mat Cohen

Despite his Texas roots, Zack Gardner has been able to work through the shock of the Chicago winter to become New Eastside News Doorperson of the Month.

Gardner has been working at Park Millennium for nearly six years, but he still misses the Texas heat.

“I still haven’t gotten acclimated with the weather,” he said. “I’ve never spent so much money on a jacket.”

Gardner was born in Little Rock, Ark., raised in Texas and went to school in Dallas. After graduating, he moved to Chicago in 2013 with his twin brother, who works at the Signature Room. The cold weather was not ideal, but having a warm heart and interacting with residents has helped.

“I love to talk to people,” he said. “I’m a people person, I love to interact with kids, I like learning new things about people and just having a conversation.

“I guess you could call me a social butterfly.”

Gardner enjoys playing and coaching basketball when he’s not working. He has a Chihuahua-Terrier mix who occasionally accompanies him at the building.

“There’s definitely strong relationships with the residents, as well as kids and animals,” he said. “I probably know more animals’ and kids’ names, versus their parents’ names.”

Zack’s cousin referred him to the building, and he views the residents as family.

“We’re pretty much living in someone’s home, to be honest. That’s why I don’t really look at it as a job,” he said. “When I’m training people I tell them, ‘It’s a job for you, but not for them. You’re pretty much in somebody’s basement and if you stay long enough you’ll turn into family.’”

Zack said the only bad part of his job is when residents move away.

“I enjoy working with the people here,” he said. “This is a very nice, diverse environment, and everyone’s in good spirits, so that helps the job a lot.

“I wouldn’t trade it for the world, it’s nice to establish those relationships.”

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