Meet the Village Manager: Melanie Carstens

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Warm, kind and caring are words that perfectly describe our Evergreen Muizenberg Village Manager, Melanie Carstens. After starting her career as a social worker, Melanie went on to spend 17 years with the Cape Peninsula Organisation for the Aged (CPOA). She joined us in 2012 and has been caring for the needs of our Muizenberg residents ever since. We chatted to her to find out more about her role as village manager, what inspires her and what she feels makes Evergreen Muizenberg unique.

1. What does your average day look like?
My days are varied and can include meeting with residents, supporting residents and families through the death of a loved one, attending funerals, organising events, dealing with staff, attending committee meetings, meeting with contractors and generally making sure that the ship sails smoothly through the day.

2. What do you enjoy most about your work?
Seeing that my residents are happy and content and that their needs are met. Growing old is not easy and comes with many challenges.

3. What are some of the things that you feel make Evergreen Muizenberg special or unique?
It’s a caring and vibrant community of people who show genuine interest in their neighbours. The residents are extremely social and love to mix and chat. There is also a strong philanthropic spirit in the village as many of our activity groups support various charities. Being at Muizenberg is like belonging to a family.

4. What makes you feel inspired?
Reading – from general books to my bible, which anchors me and gives me direction. Reading about people’s lives inspires me as there’s so much to learn from others.

5. Do you have a favourite quote or mantra that you live by?
Finish what you start!

6. When you’re not managing Evergreen Muizenberg, you’re…?
Caring for the needs of my parents and others in my community, enjoying a good movie, reading a book, baking or gardening.

7. What’s the greatest life lesson you’ve learnt?
Life is fleeting, so make the most of each day, love with all your heart and choose to forgive quickly.

8. What’s something that Evergreen residents might not know about you?
I love spending time in the garden – be it cleaning up, pruning, weeding or planting. I get very excited when seeds sprout and flowers bloom. It brings me great joy!

9. What are some of your favourite spots in Muizenberg?
Majestic Café – they make the best calamari roll ever!

10. Who do you admire most and why?
Rather than one specific person, I have many people whom I admire because their stories inspire me. Everyone has a story to tell and this makes them unique. I recently read a book called Fire Road by Kim Phuc. She is a Vietnamese girl who, at the age of 9, experienced a life altering event during the Vietnam War. Her picture made world news when a journalist captured this young girl running naked down a road after a napalm bomb struck her village and her clothes were burnt from her body. Her story inspires me because it’s one of hope and perseverance in the midst of tragedy. We need hope for every day!