The ethos of a homeowners association—to be open and welcoming—furthers the collective strength of a community. Therefore, it’s incumbent on trustees, board members and managers to foster a stronger, more cohesive sense of community. This is often achieved by holding social functions in addition to regular meetings, such as sponsoring activities outside the building or encouraging involvement with disparate activities, be it bingo night or summer picnics.
“We find that the communities that have active social committees and people who are truly committed to bringing residents together as neighbors and not just ‘people that live in the same property’ are that ones that can make building a sense of community successful,” said Justin Gargiulo, senior vice president and director of corporate operations for Great North Property Management, with offices in New Hampshire and Massachusetts.
Gargiulo says the key to success is having people on the board, or in the community, who are proactive and have great, inclusive ideas that motivate people to get out of their units. “Things like annual barbeques, movie nights, game nights, pot luck dinners are all things we have seen at the communities we’re involved with,” he said. “It’s really nice when you see a property transition from an association to a community where people interact and really care about each other.”
All Good Things in All Good Times
Boards and managers who seek to develop a more “active” community, complete with interactive events, have to be patient, says Gargiulo. “Although it takes time, it can be done and we encourage our boards to allow the social element to flourish.” Deborah Jones, PCAM and vice president at the Boston-based The Dartmouth Group, agrees adding that it is often helpful to remember that a level playing field allows for the most participation.
“The root of community is ‘common.’ Besides sharing the common property, sharing common information through ‘communication,’ which also has the root word ‘common,’ is one of the biggest builders of a community,” says Jones.