Vivette Chin has been essential to 138-35 Elder Avenue for over 35 years.
“When I started working here, I think they said I was the first female for a residential building. Can you believe that?” said Chin. She’s been working at her building Flushing, Queens for 35 years.
Chin made the move from Jamaica to New York in 1979 when she was 26. She landed in Queens, started going to school, taking typing classes and looking for work. Her other half and partner in life, Krishna, introduced Chin to the union. It wasn’t what she had planned, but she saw an opportunity to provide for her loved ones.
“I wasn’t too thrilled at first, because this is not what I wanted – but when I got it, it was great,” said Chin. She started as a porter and said the benefits and pay were good, better than what teachers were getting at the time.
Over the course of her career in the building, Chin says she has met great people. While she was busy keeping the residents safe throughout the pandemic, one of families in the building returned the favor, regularly giving Chin and her coworkers with gloves, masks, hand sanitizer, and vitamins.
And though Chin has been an essential worker since day one, she said the past year hasn’t been particularly stressful.
It was the lack of traffic that bothered her most.
“The only time it was stressful was going home when there was no traffic,” said Chin. “Leaving here at midnight, when you’re driving on the Van Wyck and you don’t see a headlight or a taillight – you’re like ‘Oh my god, what’s happening?’” she said. “That’s the only time I felt like something was wrong.”
Chin says she likes to stay active. She enjoys her job because it allows for movement about the building. After she’s done for the day, she practices self-care in the form of dance.
“I just go home, listen to some reggae of course, and dance and feel good,” said Chin.
When she has time to get away, Chin vacations with her best friend of forty-plus years; they used to work together in Jamaica, and both moved to New York around the same time in 1979. At least once a year, the duo heads down to Florida to shop and enjoy the weather together.