Cynthia Sears says she prefers working behind the scenes rather than being in the spotlight.
Her low key attitude is concisely summed up in the understated way that Sears views her third term as President of the Tenant Association at New Community Manor Senior: “I don’t mind doing it,” she says, matter of factly.
A member of NCC’s Senior Advisory Council, Sears has gained a reputation for championing a harmonious relationship between the staff and residents of Manor Senior, where Sears has resided for 16 years.
“It’s supposed to be a collaboration. You’re supposed to work with New Community and New Community will work with you,” she said. “I like where I live and I’d like to see it be the best it can be.”
Care Coordinator Sister Inocencia Emenogu said that Sears “looks after the residents.” As head of the Tenant Association, Sears listens to issues that residents bring up, plans meetings and advocates for a spirit of cooperation between the residents and staff of the Health and Social Services and Management departments.
“If anything happens, she takes charge,” Sister Inocencia said.
Sister Mary Prisca, Assistant Care Coordinator, added, “She’s a born leader.”
A New York City native, Sears grew up under the care of her grandparents in St. George, S.C. At age 10, she moved to Newark to join her mother. As an adult, Sears said she worked jobs ranging from a case manager at the Department of Social Services in South Carolina to being a certified food handler. Her favorite job by far, she says, was performing data entry at Prudential as a microfilm technician. “When you like doing something, it’s not a job,” she said, recalling how she photographed, edited, and spliced documents.
However, life took a sudden turn on a chilly morning in 1992 when Sears slipped and fell on a patch of black ice outside her office. She suffered several injuries and at one point she feared she may not walk again. Eventually, she had to leave her job. “I was devastated,” Sears said. Six years later, Sears was walking again and had moved into Manor Senior. Within a few years, she was elected by her fellow residents to her first term as President of the Tenant Association.
“She is so eager and willing to assist,” Sister Inocencia said of Sears, whose son lives in Newark and mother and sister live in Irvington and East Orange, respectively.
“We’re all here to help someone else,” Sears said.