When the phone rings, Rhonda Johnson knows that a crisis may be waiting on the other end of the line.
Johnson works as a Security Officer at New Community and when she is working dispatch, she says she’s “constantly on the phone.”
“No call is ever taken for granted,” said Johnson, who receives calls for everything from public safety matters to general inquiries.
NCC Director of Security Prentiss Thompson said simply that what makes Johnson stand out from the crowd are two important qualities: honesty and dedication.
Johnson has worked in the Security Department since February of 2000, according to Thompson.
Last year, Johnson faced a potentially dangerous situation on the job. An individual who was banned from visiting an NCC residence became angry and charged at Johnson. Fortunately, her boss was next to her and Thompson pushed Johnson out of the way and prevented the attacker from harming her or anyone else.
Over the years, Johnson says she’s worked at several sites around the NCC network and covered every shift. (She currently works 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.) Her first assignment was working at Community Hills Early Learning Center. Later she covered the Extended Care Facility. While stationed at Harmony House, a transitional housing facility, Johnson said she personally witnessed the challenges that homeless families face. “It was an experience for me, too,” she said. “I got to realize how precious my own life is.”
As NCC has evolved over the years, Johnson feels that she’s also personally grown.
“I grew with the company,” she said.
Johnson says she’s also become attached to the seniors who live in the buildings she patrols. “I call them ‘little grannies,’” Johnson said. “We’re here to protect them—they’re first, we’re second.”
Years ago, Johnson recalled an incident at NCC Commons Senior where a fire that started in a fourth floor apartment caused all elevators to be shut down. Johnson marveled as she recalled how the security officers transformed the Community Room into a makeshift waiting area and kept the scene calm and orderly. Several hours later, when the elevator was functioning, they escorted groups of five up the elevator back to their homes. That’s when Johnson really felt like she was part of a team—a sentiment she still holds today.
“We’re more or less like a family,” she said of the Security Department.
Born and raised in Newark, Johnson is a single parent and has one daughter. She graduated from Central High School in 1978 and studied business administration at Bloomfield College. Johnson previously worked in security at Newark Liberty International Airport and at Woodbridge Developmental Center as a Human Services Assistant.