Darlene Williams loves gospel music, dancing, and relaxing. When asked what she does outside of work she promptly responds with “sleep.”
“One of my hobbies is to get out, have a drink and relax, because the weekend goes like that,” Williams says as she finishes with a snap.
As a Brooklyn-born New Yorker who now lives in Harlem, she’s spent her entire life in the city.
She’s been at her current job as a cleaner at the Masonic Hall since 1994. Before that she worked at ABC, but when her company’s contract with the building ended, Williams had to decide whether to stay with ABC and move buildings, or work for a new cleaning service and stay at the building where she was working. Ultimately she chose to stay with her company, which landed her at the grandly decorated hall in Chelsea.
“I have no struggles,” Williams says of working at the Masonic Hall, “everybody treats me well.” They love her so much they even tried to make her an Eastern Star, a member of a freemason adjacent group that includes women. Though Williams turned down the offer, it didn’t stop her from admiring all the people she works with.
Williams enjoys introducing other members of the staff, and sharing how much they mean to her. She even pulled one of her favorite security guards aside so Our Town could take pictures of them together under a golden statue of George Washington. “The best part of my job is coming in — get dressed, get ready, put my uniform on, get to my floors, and make sure everything’s in order,” she says.
Her surroundings also don’t hurt her love for her job. The hall, which was originally built in 1875, was constructed in a Neo-Renaissance style. The building has full views of lower Manhattan, and partial views of just about everywhere else. Williams loves passing by the views every day as she does her job. She also says of the neighborhood that “I love Chelsea because there’s so many nationalities here. So many different people that we come in contact with as we do our job every day.”
This is Williams’ final year at her job. At the age of 66 she is planning to retire next year. “I’m trying to relocate slowly,” she says. “I’m just trying to find somewhere where I can enjoy the rest of my retirement.” After working for nearly 30 years from 4 p.m. to midnight, she is due a well-deserved break.
“I love Chelsea because there’s so many nationalities here. So many different people that we come in contact with as we do our job every day.” Darlene Williams