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A Proud Tradition Continues

2011 John DeCarlo Memorial Award winners Wilfredo Custodio, Dale Lee, and Jesse Orange. (Photo by PETE MIKOLESKI)

To the cheers of many in attendance, Chairman John B. Rhea presented 2011 John DeCarlo Memorial Award winner Dale Lee, Caretaker J at Ocean Bay Apartments, with a check for $1000. Runners-up Wilfredo Custodio, Caretaker G at Stapleton Houses and Jesse Orange, Caretaker J at Eastchester Gardens, received $500 checks. The caretakers were selected from over 40 nominees for best perpetuating the legacy of the beloved caretaker John DeCarlo, who lost his life on duty at Marlboro Houses in 1997.

“It is fitting that John DeCarlo’s commitment to his job is what we remember here today,” Human Resources Director Jane Bura-Drago remarked, “because caretakers play such an important role in serving our residents and representing the best that NYCHA has to offer.”

Resident Board Member Victor Gonzalez & Chairman John B. Rhea with 2011 John DeCarlo Memorial Award winner Dale Lee (center). (Photo by PETE MIKOLESKI)

Describing aspects of John DeCarlo’s life that have entered into Authority lore, Chairman Rhea recalled, “Mr. DeCarlo, affectionately known as the ‘Gentle Giant,’ not only worked hard and maintained perfect time and attendance, he did so with kindness and compassion.” Commenting on the role of NYCHA’s 3,000 caretakers, the Chairman declared, “More than any other position, you are the men and women on the front lines, working not only to maintain our buildings but to meet residents’ needs.”

Reflecting her consistently high level of service, Ms. Lee, this year’s winner, was also last year’s runner-up. In accepting her award she commented, “I am sincerely grateful for the recognition from my supervisor, Sandy Sonera. It’s good to know that, when you work hard and do your best, it’s not left unnoticed.”

Before the ceremony began, Ocean Bay Property Maintenance Supervisor Miguel Rosa described Ms. Lee as “very conscientious with residents and co-workers. Instead of getting ready for one day at a time, she prepares for the week ahead. Dale brings out the best in other people.”

That last point had already been made by Caretaker Richard Dolloway before the ceremony began. “Dale has been a great example to me,” he said. “She taught me physically and mentally how to approach the job.”

NYCHA Awards