Meet Elvie Magat: The Queen of Crystal Towers
If you know Elvie Magat, it may be because you met her at a 100-year-old’s birthday party , or you passed her in the hall as she chased after a neighbor’s child she was watching. Maybe you found her at the opposite side of a serving spoon as she dished one of her famous Filipino dishes for a crowd. If you don’t know Elvie Magat, she’s currently an Assistant Property Manager, and her story is one to know as her 30 years working at Crystal Towers has cemented her as a matriarch of sorts amongst her residents.
To see how she became such an integral part of the community, we have to look back. “I come from a country of islands, the Philippines,” she said. In 1991, she left home for the United States, setting roots in D.C. with her two sons and began work building her new home.
Elvie was a math teacher in the Philippines while earning her CPA, but her move to D.C. changed her career course and she began housekeeping and childcare until one day she came across a bookkeeping job at Crystal Towers listed in the Washington Post.
“Before I got the job in property management, I had a job working for a family as a babysitter and housekeeper. They were the ones who petitioned me to stay in the States. The child I babysat is now 38 and has children of his own!”
Over the next 30 years, Elvie became the “go-to” person in the community. She is even listed as some residents’ emergency contact. When asked how she developed these relationships, she said, “I always answer, ‘yes’ to little or large things,” an answer indicative of her huge heart and willingness to always help.
Chuckling as she recalled stories about memorable moments she’s had with residents, Elvie recalled finding herself somehow always having an excuse to throw a party. Leading the charge, she would band together with other Crystal Towers employees, undertaking no small feat to cook for all 912 apartments.
“We had so many resident events – we didn’t have caterers back in the day, so we would cook and prepare all of it! You name it, we’ve had every type of party possible.”
When one Crystal Towers resident celebrated their 100th birthday, Elvie turned the lobby of the building into a building-wide block party, opening up the centenary celebration for everyone in the community.
“We ordered a three layer cake and lots of food and we invited all of her friends in and outside of the building. We had a big celebration. It was so fun! She ended up living to 103.”
When asked about her passion for cooking, Elvie proudly says, “I learned to cook by myself! My best instructor is YouTube.” Many of her favorite recipes are Filipino, which have become treasured by the Crystal Towers staff, too. “I’ve cooked pork tenderloin and brisket for the staff. When I go to the grocery store, I ask them to leave the head on the fish.”
On snowy days you can find her in the kitchen cooking for the entire maintenance team. As they care for the building, Elvie cares for them, making sure everyone is fed with a warm meal to wrap their hands around after a long day of work in the elements.
“We had a blizzard and I went to Costco and we bought two carts of food because the team stayed for breakfast, lunch, dinner, then breakfast again! We fed them all meals. It’s so much fun, it gives you a good feeling when you are able to help.”
Reflecting on her life, Elvie said she could write a novel. She says she is lucky to be in the United States, allowing her to support her mom in the Philippines. “I’m proud of being a single mother raising two boys and working. I worked, studied at night, and took care of my boys.”
For Elvie, the studying does not end. She is a dedicated learner and is in the habit of always learning something new.
Sitting and chatting with Elvie about her life, the novel almost wrote itself. All of the changes she describes in the neighborhood over the years gives greater appreciation for the things that have remained—the relationships with people. At her home in Crystal Towers, you can find the kind, talented and determined Elvie still tending to the relationships she treasures with her neighbors and friends. The home she has built extends beyond Crystal Towers and what the eye can see. Places like this have become a home to so many because of people like Elvie. Once a stranger herself, she stayed rooted and cared for others with hospitality that has redefined what it means to live in an apartment community.