A leader, a listener, a friend: Arlishia Fields’ door is always open at Jackson Place

March 31, 2017

Arlishia Fields’ feeling she would become a Presby team member one day was true. And as the senior housing manager at South Philly’s Jackson Place, she values communication with residents.

Years ago, never did Arlishia Fields think she would wind up in the Affordable Housing field, let alone the manager at a bustling community such as South Philadelphia’s Jackson Place.

Arlishia was enjoying a successful career in the special education industry at a behavioral school for children in New Jersey. But sometimes life can get in the way. The hours and the needs of the job just weren’t working for Arlishia, a single mother to her son and a native of Philadelphia.

“It was just difficult,” Arlishia said. “He needed me to be closer and just to be a little more accessible. And I had to make the change as a parent. So I said to myself that I had to find something that’s closer to home.”

A friend knew of Arlisha’s situation and recommended she reach out to a connection in Affordable Housing. Arlishia did just that and was hired as an Affordable Housing manager at a community in North Philadelphia.

But during her four years there, Arlishia would constantly hear about an organization called Presby’s Inspired Life.

“I had known people at Presby and a really good friend was one of the managers at Presby,” Arlishia said. “They always talked about their organization and how happy they were with their organization. They always had good things going on with the organization with the different service awards and different functions and different perks of being an employee. I just remember being like, “Man, I need to get with that organization!

“I just locked in my mind that somehow, some way, in some shape or form I would become an team member of Presby, and that’s just what I did. I just kept my fingers crossed and I knew I was going to get in. I didn’t know what I was going to be doing, but I knew I had to get my foot in the door first. It just so happened Jackson Place was the community for me!”

Arlishia is the senior housing manager at Jackson Place. Located in the heart of South Philadelphia at 5th and Jackson Streets, Jackson Place, which opened in 2004 and is sponsored by Presby’s Inspired Life, is a community that offers 66 units of HUD-PRAC Affordable Housing.

Arlishia came to Presby and Jackson Place in November of 2015. In that time, she quickly became engrained into the fabric of Jackson Place. It’s a unique setting as the overwhelming majority of residents are lifelong South Philly residents who bring that old neighborhood culture to the community.

“They grew up here in South Philly and wanted to stay here when they decided to change and move and sell their homes,” Arlishia said of the Jackson Place residents she serves. And that’s the beautiful thing about the residents here. They’ll get out here and they’ll start talking about, ‘Oh, I used to live on 2nd Street.’ Or, “Oh, I was over there on 4th Street.’ And they start knowing one another.”

Arlishia is a big believer in always having an open line of communication with the residents at Jackson Place. She doesn’t just want to hear from the residents, she encourages it.

That’s why she has an open-door policy with her residents. They know they can step into her office at any moment, whether it be to voice concern about an issue, suggest an event or activity or even just to talk.

And it’s something the residents appreciate.

“You might be able to tell just from talking to us, but we hold Arlishia in high regard,” said Jackson Place resident Kay Barksdale. “When she first walked in the door here, you could tell that she was a worker and a go-getter. She cares and she likes people. She’s very kind and very patient with people. But she’s also not afraid to look you in the eye, but she’s also incredibly respectful.”

“Arlishia does a very good job here,” said longtime Jackson Place resident Marie Scafidi. “She always has from the time she first started here. We love having her here!”

It’s that sort of interaction that makes the job so enjoyable for Arlishia. Sure, there are some days when she has to be in meetings or work on the computer all day.

But when the Jackson Place residents pop in to chat, it always brings a smile to her face.

“There are so many stories and so many different relationships with each resident,” Arlishia said. “It’s about all those moments I have with the residents. The interactions are the best part of the day and make the day go by and makes everything here even more enjoyable.”

Kay had one parting request before the interview for this story ended.

“You know which door to slip a note under that says Arlishia should get a raise? Because she deserves it for all she does for us!”

*Arlishia’s service and dedication to Presby’s Inspired Life was honored recently as she was Affordable Housing’s nominee for the 2017 Distinguished Service Staff Member of the Year Award.