Nita Thornton, Coast apartments

Nita Thornton, doorperson at Coast Apartments, 345 E. Wacker Dr., learned how to handle the front desk responsibilities of a busy New Eastside high rise from a former coworker and friend who she believes to be without equal in the business.


Nita Thornton

“The good man from the Shoreham, Fred Crocker, is the best Doorman I’ve ever known,” she says. “He looked out for me. Got me all set up. Got me through training.”

It was Fred’s mother, a trusted friend for years, who encouraged Ms. Thornton to investigate an opportunity in the building where her son worked in October 2012.

At the time, Ms. Thornton was a Moraine Valley Community College nursing student, but her natural instinct for helping others was growing restless. So she decided to give it a try.

There is no doubt in her mind that it was the right move to make.

“You get to put your arms out and extend yourself,” she explains. “It’s beneficial all the way around.”

Roughly a year later, she accepted a postion at Coast when it opened.

Since then, her personalized brand of courtesy and service has been a hit with the tenants. “Nita is always on it,” said the resident who nominated her for this honor. “Everyone loves her. She always has a smile on her face and the right answer to give to anybody. We know we can count on her.”

The position also allows her to frequently communicate in Spanish, which she speaks fluently thanks to her father, who is of African American and Puerto Rican descent.

Although she wishes that she had learned to speak more than “just” two languages — “There are a lot of people and I would love to speak with them all,” says Ms. Thornton — she has taken full advantage of her bilingual and bicultural upbringing.

“The beat of Reggeatone is amazing,” she says. “And I like to dance.”

When she’s not enjoying the calypso rhythms of her heritage, Ms. Thornton likes to “just hang back” and spend time with family. Whether it’s with her own cousins, who rely on her wisdom as the oldest, or the children of friends, she cherishes being a helpful and mature friend.

“For some reason, kids take a liking to me,” she says. “I like to claim them when I can.”

To nominate your doorperson, please email

— Daniel Patton, Staff Writer

Marshey McCaster, Coast

Marshey McCaster knew that she wanted to join the service team at Coast on E. Wacker Dr. as soon as she learned about an opportunity in the building from a member of the doorstaff last December.

“I was at Jefferson Tower on Lake Street,” she explains. “It was a great job, but I was ready to make a switch.”

Since both properties were and still are managed by the Magellan Corporation, the change involved little if any stress.

IMG_9359web“I’ve been with Magellan for six years,” she says. “They’re awesome people to work for because they really care about their residents and their employees.”

Ms. McCaster also knew that her personality was a great fit for the job. Recognized by friends as “the one who is always smiling,” she enthusiastically describes her role by saying, “you meet and greet people all day!”

The location was another big plus. “Everything in this neighborhood is changing,” she says. “They’re building the Wanda Vista next door and there will be a lot of people and businesses moving in over the next few months.”

With “a great reference” from one of the staff, she got the offer, settled in, and soon discovered that the situation exceeded her highest expectations.

“I met the superstar Terrance Howard!” she exclaims. “He was compassionate and polite.”
Noting that “a lot of celebrities” pass through the lobby, Ms. McCaster says that her new job has become a perfect compliment to and resource for her love and pursuit of fashion design.

“It’s always been my passion,” she explains. Besides earning a BFA from the International Academy of Design & Technology, she is also an avid student of celebrity couture. “My best things are bowties for men and women,” she says. “I created a bowtie inspired by one that I saw Usher wearing in a GQ photo.”

To nominate your doorperson, please email

By Daniel Patton | Staff Writer

Doorperson of the month: James Henri, 340 On The Park

James Henri, doorman at 340 On The Park, has always enjoyed working with people. Before assuming front desk responsibilities at the city’s second tallest residential building, he spent decades in hospital administration, hotel security, and public education.

But the immeasurably professional Mr. Henri, who also earned a degree in Education from Cornell College in Iowa, credits the tenants of the building for his success. “We have doctors, lawyers, CEOs,” he says. “They are down-to-earth and they’ve embraced me and included me in their families.”

He came to 340 by way of a recommendation from a tenant in a condominium where he worked before pursuing the position.

“She was moving out and I said, ‘I hate to see you leave,” he recalls. “And she said, ‘you ought to come with us.’”


James Henri (photo: Daniel Patton).

Mr. Henri joined the team that helped inaugurate the high-rise when it opened in 2007 and has fostered a number of admirers ever since.

“There isn’t a person whose name he doesn’t know,” says Betsy Gilfillan, a tenant in the building. “He set the standard for great service and he is a joy to see every time we walk through the lobby.”

This respect for other people has been a part of Mr. Henri’s character since he was a child growing up in the Chatham neighborhood on Chicago’s south side.

“I am from a mixed-race family,” he explains. “My father was African-American and my mother was white. It could be intense.”

Mr. Henri was taught about patience, respect and ambition by his parents, who remained together throughout their entire lives.

“We couldn’t use the word ‘hate’ in our household,” he explains. “Because it’s a learned behavior.”

The rule was applied to every aspect of the family’s life. “I don’t like asparagus and I don’t like Brussels sprouts,” he says. “But I can’t say I hate them.”

To nominate your doorperson, please email

Gail Rogers, Park Millennium

Doorperson Gail Rogers came to the Park Millennium by way of a contract job for a security company ten years ago. Almost immediately, she “fell in love” with her work. When the building’s management expressed a similar albeit professional interest in her a short time later, the native Chicagoan acted on it.

“I was here for a couple of months and Park Millennium hired me,” she says.

Since then, she has seen the location change and improve at a rapid pace.

“The Aqua wasn’t there, the CVS wasn’t there, and the area with the Mariano’s and all that wasn’t there,” she explains. “Now it’s a great location and you’re right at everything.”

According to Rogers, the greatest challenge of the job is a round-the-clock demand for customer service. “With all the people in and out,” she says. “It’s like a revolving door. It’s a very busy building and nothing stands still.”

IMG_2517cShe handles the responsibilities with a virtue that she feels should come naturally to any good doorperson – patience. “You have to be a people person,” she says. “That’s the bottom line. You have to like talking and being around people, and then it works.”

The perpetually upbeat Rogers shows an instinctive knack for her profession and does not hesitate to express her appreciation for the residents who help make her job easier.

“They are wonderful, very good people,” she says. “I love them very much.”

When Rogers is not tending to the needs of a downtown high-rise condominium, she likes to relax in her south suburban home and pursue her professional education.

“I’m taking a real estate class now,” she explains. “Once I’m done with this I think I’m going to do that on the side.”

To nominate your doorperson, please email

— Daniel Patton, Staff Writer

Betty Smith, The Regatta

Anytime you walk into the beautiful Regatta building — morning, noon, or night — you are sure to be greeted by a friendly face at the front desk. One of those is our February Doorperson of the Month, Mrs. Betty Smith.

“What I enjoy the most about the job is the interaction with the people. I enjoy being a friendly face and voice for folks when they come back home after a long day,” says Smith.

Smith has handled the door at the Regatta for nearly seven years.  She began as a security person in the area before enthusiastically accepting an offer to join the full-time staff. Since then, she has seen many positive changes in the neighborhood.

IMG_5783a“The New Eastside has really improved,” she says.  “The beautification and expanded facilities at the park and all the new entertainment options are wonderful to see!”

Smith has also witnessed “more than a few” interesting incidents, including one particular afternoon when a vicious dogfight erupted in the lobby.

It occurred while a female resident and her two pit bulls were waiting for an elevator. They were greeted by a German shepherd and its owner when the elevator’s doors opened. The dogs immediately went into attack mode.  The pit bulls nearly broke free of their leashes but were restrained by a maintenance worker.

There is never a dull moment in the life of a doorperson.

Of what Betty is proudest, the answer is easy — her family. Betty has a daughter; a son; and two grandsons, one of whom just graduated from North Park College.

To nominate your doorperson, email

— Jon Cohn | Community Contributor

Razvan Badulescu, Aqua Condominiums

Daniel Patton | Staff Writer

Razvan Badulescu arrived in the United States from Bucharest, Romania, by way of the 2001 “immigration lottery” sponsored by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services.

He applied for the privilage after demonstrating admissibility to the country and was “working several jobs” and “starting university” when the department awarded him a green card.

He became a doorperson at the Aqua Condominium building only six months after it opened in 2009.

Among the residents who are happy with his decision to pursue the opportunity is Margo Huston, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist.

“Razvan is wonderful,” she says.

“Attentive, friendly, respectful and, most importantly, fun.”

What do you like best about your job?

I like working with people. I like to interact with people. I probably deal with a thousand people a day.

IMG_5434bHow do you describe a typical day?

Besides greeting people, there are different things to do, like helping maintain some kind of security.

I sometimes also help carry things upstairs, especially if someone has a lot of luggage and stuff. We always help them unload the car and carry things to the door and the elevator, but if they need help all the way up to their home, we do it.

What is most challenging part of your job?

The Aqua is a condominium, apartment and hotel. People come from the hotel asking to be checked in. I have to show them where to go. Same with the parking. That’s why we have two doorpersons all the time. We have a lot more to do than other buildings. It’s a lot more crowded and a lot more complex.

IMG_5456bHow do you describe the residents?

The people are very nice. They always talk to you. They bring you stuff like food and sweets. It doesn’t matter the value or anything like that. What matters is the gesture, the fact that they think about you, that’s important. You are the person who greets them every day when they come home. You understand what’s in happening in their life and they trust you.

To nominate your doorperson, email

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