Celebrating our diversity

When Anela Feratovic saw Atria wishing a “Happy Ramadan” in a corporate Facebook post, she knew she had made the right decision for an employer. “A lot of places don’t even acknowledge holidays that are Muslim or that relate to other faiths or cultures,” Anela said.

A native of Montenegro (formerly Yugoslavia), Anela and her parents moved to Brooklyn in New York City when she was five years old. At first the family felt welcomed, and everything seemed good in America’s largest city.

But then, the World Trade Center and other attacks took place on September 11, 2001. Suddenly, Anela and her family, even as U.S. citizens, didn’t feel so welcomed anymore.

“It was like, once you started talking with someone and they discovered you were Muslim, they took 10 steps back. It was difficult if not impossible to persuade people that we are peace-loving human beings who share American citizenship and ideals.”

On to Erie

These days, Anela is married, has children, and since October 2021 has served as Community Business Director at Holiday by Atria’s Niagara Village in Erie, Pennsylvania. She spends her days not only handling financial administration for the community, but often spends time directly with the residents and engaging with them.

When she arrives for work, “I make sure I pass through the kitchen, like basically what a manager would do, making sure they’re all good, that breakfast is getting started for the day, and that all the servers are there,” she says.

“I’m very hands on, so if I’m caught up with my work, I go out in the community talking to the residents, helping the residents and staff with any problems that they have. Sometimes they think I’m human resources, so they come and talk to me about their problems, and I love it. I’m here for it. I never say, ‘It’s not my department, not my problem.’ I’m just very hands on and just jump right in and help where I can.”

Ramadan and Eid

Recently, Anela along with Muslims around the world celebrated Ramadan, a month of prayer and fasting, and Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan. “I’ve worked for many companies before where they wouldn’t recognize our holidays or even have it on the calendar,” Anela says. “But with Atria, even if there’s only a small minority of Muslims who work in the company, they took the time to wish us a happy Ramadan and Eid. It was very special to me, and I actually felt like it was a personal message to me. That’s how important it was to me.”

Welcoming Co-workers

The welcoming feeling for Anela goes past social posts and into the workplace with her colleagues. “All my co-workers here at Niagara come up to me and wish me happy Ramadan and Eid,” she says. “They are interested in who I am as a person, and they make me feel accepted. It’s nice to work at a place that makes you feel that way,” she said.

Upward Bound

Anela feels so good about her situation at Holiday by Atria, that she has ambitions of even higher levels of leadership at Niagara Village. “I’m still fairly new and have a lot to learn, but coming from the hospitality industry plus knowing how the company wants its residents served and the communities managed I feel that I can be a growing contributor for many years to come,” she says.

There is a place for you at Atria, too! Visit atriacareers.com now to search for your perfect fit.