Watching and Helping Generations Flourish at Cadman

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A ‘lobby attendant’ who gives residents birthday cards

By Linnea Covington

If you walk through the doors and into the large brick building at 101 Clark St., chances are a very friendly and smiling man will greet you. Though he might make you feel special, this is the way Ronald Williams treats all the tenants and guests who make their way into Cadman Towers, where he has worked for 27 years.

Ronald Williams has seen the building’s babies grow up to have babies. Photo by Daniel S. Burnstein

“I started one Saturday temporarily, but they liked me and kept me,” he said over the phone. “I like dealing with the people, and I guess they like me.”

He has seen babies born and then those babies grow up to have more babies. As generations of families live, eat and laugh at the housing complex in downtown Brooklyn, the 57-year-old Williams is right there chuckling with them. He truly loves his job and gives credit for his success there to the late Joe Menefe, who was the superintendent of the building and got him hired.

“He was the one that spoke on my behalf and I will never forget that,” said Williams. “For me to last this long, well, I didn’t expect to last this long.”

On a typical day, Williams, whose technical job title is “lobby attendant,” gets to work at 7:45 a.m. and gets briefed on anything going on in the building. He checks in packages, tidies the vestibule, answers phones, takes inventory and gets the door for people when the doorman is out. Then his day ends around 4 p.m. and he goes to his Crown Heights home to take care of his cat, Kenya, and his grandma, who is currently staying with him.

Before he got the job with Cadman Towers, Williams trekked all the way from Brooklyn to East Harlem’s Taino Towers, where he worked security. He has also worked security for the Board of Education and when he was a young man, he operated various machines at a Coco-Cola plant. In between these jobs, Williams obtained his associate degree from New York Technical College.

Born and raised in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, Williams has always had a soft spot for the area. He loves the food in his surrounding neighborhoods, especially the chicken and waffles at Cafe Shane and the mango-walnut pancakes (they have 21 kinds) at Tom’s, both in Prospect Heights. When he isn’t at Cadman Towers, Williams can be found roaming the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, checking out shows at the Brooklyn Art Museum or taking his grandma to her karate class. He just finished reading Q: The Autobiography of Quincy Jones, and now, like Jones, Williams can claim his award for the work he does so well.

“I like to show that I care,” he said. “I let people vent, provide a sympathetic ear, give out birthday cards and I am always smiling. I try to keep a positive attitude because every day can be fun.”

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