HOA Insights: Common Sense for Common Areas

026 | HOA Board Heroes: Faithful Service to the HOA Community

October 23, 2023 Hosts: Robert Nordlund, Kevin Davis, Julie Adamen Season 1 Episode 26
HOA Insights: Common Sense for Common Areas
026 | HOA Board Heroes: Faithful Service to the HOA Community
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

On this week’s special “HOA Board Heroes” episode listen to Carol Laurence's journey, challenges, and advice as a dedicated HOA Board member in Pasadena.
✅ Is a Reserve Study right for you? 👉 https://www.reservestudy.com/

In this episode for “HOA Board Heroes” we interviewed Carol Laurence, a passionate HOA Board member from Pasadena's Allen Ave Square North. Carol has faithfully served her community for decades, tackling challenges with kindness and dedication. Through the ups and downs of property management, dealing with negativity, and ensuring transparency in the association, Carol stands as a beacon of service.

Chapters from today's episode: HOA Board Heroes - Faithful Service to the HOA Community

00:00 Always be kind to everyone in your HOA Community
02:03 Ad Break - OurPHIPHO.com
02:35 HOA Board Hero Introduction - Carol Laurence
03:42 What motivated Carol to join her community’s HOA Board 
04:33 What are the term limits on Carol’s HOA Board & How many hours did she invest per week
06:05 Carol’s perspective on her HOA’s financial Health
06:56 Carol’s favorite and least favorite parts of serving on her HOA Board
08:10 What is the culture at Carol’s HOA 
10:31 HOA board meeting challenges and successes.
12:00 Carol’s biggest challenges being on her HOA Board

Podcast Links:
Full Episode List
Watch On Youtube

Engage in the conversation!

Call our 24/7 voicemail line at (805) 203-3130 or send an email or voice memo to podcast@reservestudy.com

Connect with Hosts on LinkedIn & Twitter

Julie Adamen
https://www.linkedin.com/in/julieadamen/

Kevin Davis, CIRMS
https://www.linkedin.com/in/kevin-davis-98105a12/

Robert Nordlund, PE
https://www.linkedin.com/in/robert-nordlund-pe-rs-5119636/

Support Our Sponsors

Association Insights & Marketplace
https://www.ourfipho.com/

Association Reserves
https://www.reservestudy.com/

Community Financials
https://communityfinancials.com/

Kevin Davis Insurance Services
https://www.kdisonline.com/

Stokelight Video & Marketing
https://stokelight.com/

Carol Laurence:

The word of advice that we give to board members is Be kind to everybody. Even if someone has made a mistake in the past that doesn't mean they didn't learn from their mistake. Be kind to everybody. Kindness will never get you in trouble. But being rude or something or saying something bad about somebody that adds to negativity. So be kind.

Announcer: HOA Insights:

Common Sense for Common Areas exists to help all 2 million volunteer board members nationwide have the right information at the right time to make the right decisions for their future. This podcast is sponsored by four companies that care about Board Members Association insights & Marketplace, Association Reserves, Community Financials, and Kevin Davis Insurance Services. You'll find links to their websites and social media in the show notes.

Robert Nordlund:

thankless job, what comes to your mind when you hear those two words, having served on the board of my condominium association for several years, followed by decades of experience in this industry. There is one job that without a doubt deserves to be at the top of the list, an elected volunteer community association board member so a regular feature of our weekly podcast is one episode a month devoted to sharing the stories of a real life on song board hero in our eyes. A board here was one of the 2 million elected volunteers who are worthy of recognition for simply performing a thankless job well, so welcome back to HOA insights common sense for common areas. I'm Robert Nordlund. And I'm here to share the story of an unsung board hero named Carol Laurence. This is episode 26. And if you missed meeting any of our first four board heroes, you can find them easily on our website, HOAinsights.org. Or by subscribing to Hoa insights on your favorite podcast platform. But before you hear Carol's story, here's a brief message from one of our generous sponsors.

Paige Daniels:

numbers matter and we need numbers like game scores and bank balances to let us know where we stand. The same is true for your association is yours thriving or struggling? Let me introduce you to the FIPHO health score like your own personal FICO credit score. Now in one simple number, owners and boards can learn the combined financial, physical and operational health of their association. The good news, it's free at our OurFIPHO.com That's OurFIPHO.com. Learn how your association measures up.

Carol Laurence:

My name is Carol Laurence. And I've served on Allan Ave square North homeowners association and various positions since 1978. When I'm not wearing my board member hat, I volunteer at the Pasadena Police Department. I volunteer at my church and I volunteer at Huntington Memorial Hospital. And I participate in many women's groups like front porch society I have belong to a book club. I go to events that my son's involved in when he's in charge of them like go to like granddaughters college for all their events and my grandson's baseball games.

Robert Nordlund:

Allen Avenue Square North is a 75 unit apartment style conversion condominium community in Pasadena, California, with a budget of about $400,000. The building is 50 years old and is about 60% owner occupied. Carol has lived there for an amazing 45 years. So we asked what first motivated her to get involved and stay involved with the governance of her community association. Throughout that time.

Carol Laurence:

My boyfriend was president. So I was motivated to help him because I thought he was too much of a pushover, and I was vice president life service on the board ended March 2023. In the 45 years I've lived at the building. I've served on the board in about 10 years. But I've always been involved in work projects, helping my neighbors welcome committees security committees, and offering when I'm trying to lobby someone to run for the board. I will help you any way I can. To be better if you need me to type something if you need me to copy something on your person that will do it.

Robert Nordlund:

Given Carol's long tenure on the board. We were curious as to the makeup of Allen Avenue square North's board and whether they had term limits or not. Here's what she had to say.

Carol Laurence:

We have five members on the board and there are no term limits. We have one year terms and then there's another election. Hardly anybody wants to be on the board. If you run you probably will get elected

Robert Nordlund:

For someone to stay on the board for so long with such short term periods, indicates a large amount of confidence from the community at large, which often speaks to the amount of time that each board member is investing into the association. We asked Carol how much time she was investing into the community as well as what special gifts, she had to inspire that level of confidence from her community.

Carol Laurence:

When I was on the board, I invested too many hours, but it was about 10 a week, I'm very, I would describe my personality as very outgoing, welcoming. And the what I bring to the board is I'm very observant, and I notice things and I observe what the consequences of those things would be or how they're going to impact us like a new car in the parking garage. All of a sudden, I also take all the courses I can online to improve my education. You know, study different lot of law firms give free education, and I participate in lots.

Robert Nordlund:

Here's Carol's perspective as it relates to the association's financial health.

Carol Laurence:

I consider the association well funded in light up when we started those sociation had not met the officers in six months, and the money had gone from like 200 and some 1000 to 113,000. And so, but the board I was on was brave, and they increased this aspect. And then the next board I was in Korea, increase the assessment again and did a one time 5% assessment. And then because we had the balcony assessment, we also did an emergency assessment to start funding for the maps. I mean, the building plans the engineer and build up the reserves.

Robert Nordlund:

Now that curls term on the board has come to a close, we want to know what her favorite and least favorite parts of serving on the board were,

Carol Laurence:

I'll say the least favorite. First, the anonymous letters stuck in the mailboxes without postage, or put on people's doorsteps with no signatures, including renters stirring them up unnecessarily. When they're not involved in all of our stuff. My most favorite thing is being able to see the needs of like other people and trying to accommodate those needs. Like if the elevator breaks down trying that if it'll go down, but it won't go up trying to take the steps down, and then go pick up the person you know, so I can get you know help them get down to where they need to be helping people like if they can't manage the heavy door, escorting them to the meetings and with our walker or the wheelchair and holding the door for them so they can get up to the floor, the third floor for the meetings, reminding people of the parking limitations on the street in front of our building so they don't get towed or get a heavy fine. asking people do they have any questions about the building? Some people didn't know their stairwells that either end, you know, orient to that new experience of a new building.

Robert Nordlund:

From our answers, Carol seems devoted to maintaining a culture of helpfulness and assistance to any of the homeowners or residents in need. We wondered if the culture of the current board reflected this and how good of a job they were doing overall. Here's what Carol had to say.

Carol Laurence:

The President board as mixed and, and not very institutionally knowledgeable because they're all short time owners. It is well run. We have a property manager who cares, everybody. None of us are perfect. We can all use improvement.

Robert Nordlund:

In her last answer. Carol briefly mentioned that they had a caring and involved community manager. We asked her to speak on that in more detail.

Carol Laurence:

Our association has professionally managed by a management company we used in the 90s. It's a very small firm, but they give us a lot of attention because they're right now the street. The two stars for our manager is She's very good with difficult people. She can charm anybody to see reason. And she's always she's smiling, and she's well spoken. And she tries to communicate on a regular basis and she's in the building on a regular basis. The thing I would ask that she be remember that the elderly people need extra help. You know, like the ones that don't have computers. They need either snail mailinformation, or door drop information.

Robert Nordlund:

Given her prior experience on the board. Carol had some pretty frank assessments on what the current board is doing well, as well as how they can improve. We asked her for some specifics,

Carol Laurence:

though two things my board is doing well is they're trying to communicate, stalled. They wrote up like for the balcony inspection and the walkway, they wrote up a nice little presentation about it. Other thing is they're trying to get the handle on getting the minutes out. They do get the agenda out on time. I wish they would not say negative things like that. I don't want that contractor. I don't like him or negative things that could get us in trouble because the minutes are posted in public areas.

Robert Nordlund:

From her answer about the board meeting minutes, it seemed that Carol was fairly concerned about the conduct of the board meetings. We then ask Carol how she defines a successful board meeting,

Carol Laurence:

like the Avet successful board meeting is where the members are made to feel welcome for and and appreciated for coming to the meeting, if they don't have an agenda with them that they're presented with an agenda, a meeting that sticks to the agenda, allow the members to speak at Open Forum, and then that the meeting gets done without negative comments.

Robert Nordlund:

We wondered how the board meetings were held as holding a board meeting in person virtually or in hybrid setting can dramatically change the conduct of the board.

Carol Laurence:

Our meetings are in real life in in the meeting room. Sometimes we allow someone to call in like a board member if there can't be there because of work obligations.

Robert Nordlund:

As always, we like to give the Board heroes that come on this program and opportunity to share some advice they've gained from their own experiences. Here's what Carol had to share.

Carol Laurence:

The word of advice that we give to board members is Be kind to everybody. Even if someone has made a mistake in the past. That doesn't mean they didn't learn from their mistake be planktic Everybody, kindness will never get you in trouble. But being rude or something or saying something bad about somebody that adds to negativity. So be kind.

Robert Nordlund:

Carol's answers spoke to a recurring theme throughout the interview, this culture of negativity that has pervaded the community at large. We asked her this culture was the biggest challenge presented to Carol during her time on the board.

Carol Laurence:

My biggest challenge I sort of touched on this before is trying to decide what to do about the people who are still. So misinformation, and especially anonymously, even though we have a pretty good idea which of the which, who those three people are people saying we're going to put the old nasty carpet back down that we ripped up. That's just not gonna happen. Why are you thinking that?

Robert Nordlund:

As Carol just described, negativity and misinformation can be the most pervasive challenge to any board member, especially one that has invested so much time into serving the association. We want to know if Carl had instituted or changed any policies to combat this culture.

Carol Laurence:

The only one person was signing the checks. And I instituted it should be two people signing the checks and two people reviewing the invoice those from the board so that we could see what the invoice said and also catch mistakes. If accidentally some Matt property manager sent us a check for a building on a different street than we should be catching that for them. Not everybody's perfect. And people make mistakes, including me. And I discovered some interesting things like when I said I'd been kept saying you have to update the signature cards when I wasn't on the board. You people have to update the signature card. But when I actually began on the board, I mean, they named me to the board I didn't run they said you know, keep your enemies close, so to speak, she put me on the board, we all went to the bank, the property manager, a previous one was on as a check signer on the signature cards. I was like this, he and then fired him. He could have emptied all their accounts. So I said this thing kind of thing cannot happen. This has to be reviewed regularly. And when I said we need to get a new property manager. They resisted, resisted resisted, you know I said he's told we found out that things he said were didn't happen. We found out we were cited for things that he never told the HOA about. And we lost. It was like pretty devastating. But they finally relented and hired a new property manager and that already interviewed about tenable in preparation for a while on the go with that new property manager when they hired a totally untrained manager. And basically they expected us to train her. Then they said okay, we don't want to train another property manager. We'll go with here. We'll go with getting a new property. She sure so then we chose one of The 10 I interviewed

Robert Nordlund:

it seems needless to say that not only is Allen Ave square North much better off with their current manager than with the one Carol just described, but they also benefited greatly from the time and care curl invested in the association. Finally, we asked Carol if there was anything that the association had done that she was especially proud of.

Carol Laurence:

I'm proud of the community involvement that the path board that we undertook to attend community meetings with our Councilman outreach programs, with our police department, or Dean relationships, we with the health community that would better things for our residents in our building as some of us are aging out.

Robert Nordlund:

Thank you for listening. And thank you to Carol for performing such a thankless job well, for so many years. We hope you've gained some HOA insights from her story and that it helps you bring common sense to your common area. Thank you for joining us, and we look forward to another great episode. Next week.

Announcer:

You've been listening to HOA Insights, Common Sense for Common Areas. You can listen to the show on our podcast website, hoainsights.org, or subscribe on any of the most popular podcast platforms. You can also watch the show on our YouTube channel. Check the show notes for helpful links. If you liked the show, and want to support the work we do, you can do so in a number of ways. The most important thing you can do is to engage in the conversation, email your questions or voice memos to podcast@reserve study.com Or leave us a voicemail at 805-203-3130. If you gain any insights from the show, please do us a HUGE favor by sharing the show with other board members you know, you can also support us by supporting the brands that sponsor this program. Please remember that the views and opinions expressed by the podcast do not constitute legal advice. You'll want to consult your own legal counsel before making any important decisions. Finally, this podcast was expertly mixed and mastered by Stoke Light Video and Marketing. With Stoke Light on your team, you'll reach more customers with marketing expertise that inspires action. See the show notes to connect with Stoke Light.

Always be kind to everyone in your HOA Community
Ad Break - OurPHIPHO.com
OA Board Hero Introduction - Carol Laurence
What motivated Carol to join her community’s HOA Board
What are the term limits on Carol’s HOA Board & How many hours did she invest per week
Carol’s perspective on her HOA’s financial Health
Carol’s favorite and least favorite parts of serving on her HOA Board
What is the culture at Carol’s HOA
HOA board meeting challenges and successes
Carol’s biggest challenges being on her HOA Board