Ronda Lawrence is a woman on the go.
Her day as Property Manager at New Community Manor Senior starts the moment a resident spies her car pull into a parking spot.
Senior and disabled adults at 545 Orange St. in Newark will stop Lawrence—with keys still in hand—to ask her questions or address a problem in their apartment. And that’s before she tends to her phone messages, emails, checks with security about overnight hospital admissions or begins her line-up of morning appointments.
“It’s always something—there’s never a dull moment,” Lawrence said with a smile. And that’s all before her lunch hour, when she heads to Essex County College to pursue an Associate Degree in Business Administration. (She has the blessing of her boss, Management Director Fonda Porter, and plans to graduate in December.)
In spite of the daily stresses that come with rent collection, work orders and resident complaints, Lawrence understands that many of her residents don’t have other family to rely on for help. “They look at me somewhat like a mother figure. They trust me,” she said.
Assistant Care Coordinator Giselle Oviedo recalled an instance where a woman who was on the waitlist for Manor Senior was at risk of becoming homeless. Lawrence personally delivered the necessary paperwork so her prospective tenant wouldn’t end up on the street.
“She’s a fighter for those who are in need. She does her job very, very well,” Oviedo said.
Porter added, “She is devoted and committed to improving the lives of residents that she serves in the community and she grew up in New Community.”
In fact, Lawrence proudly calls herself “a product of New Community.” A graduate of the now closed St. Rose of Lima, a K-8 school adjoined to the parish where NCC Founder Monsignor William J. Linder was the longtime pastor, Lawrence said that Monsignor became “a father figure” to her. Born and raised in a devoutly Catholic home in Guyana, Lawrence came to the U.S. at age 12 and her family became deeply involved at St. Rose of Lima parish. As a child, she was a lector and sang in the choir, and her younger brother, Ron Allicock, was an altar server. Their mother, Amabel Clement, is currently a Eucharistic Minister at the parish as well as a Licensed Practical Nurse at NCC Extended Care Facility.
As a teen, Lawrence’s potential caught Monsignor’s eye and she was awarded the William J. Linder Scholarship.
She attended Immaculate Conception High School in Montclair on a full-ride scholarship.
While attending Bloomfield College, Lawrence tried studying nursing but quickly learned she “didn’t have the stomach.” She left college after a year when a seasonal gig at Macy’s turned into a fulltime job. Next she worked at Saks Fifth Avenue in Short Hills for five years but was then recruited to work at NCC. When she arrived at Manor Senior, Lawrence admits she had a hard time adjusting to some of the challenges that residents presented.
Residents often share their heavy burdens with Lawrence. “I go home with it sometimes,” she said.
But the busyness of her home provides its own kind of therapy. Lawrence and her husband, Ryan, live in Union with their four children ages 1 to 14. They run a construction company where she is the co-owner and spends weekends handling payroll, invoices and estimates.
Lawrence credits her husband with supporting her jam-packed schedule, saying, “It’s definitely a team effort. It’s 50-50 all the time.” In her spare time, she enjoys listening to old school soul music.