For Orla Ditaranto, what started out as a job as a doorwoman grew quickly into a passion.
Through her union, she’s had the opportunity to take classes and receive certifications in plumbing, carpentry, green building LEED certification, air pollution, blueprint reading, building management, bed-bug prevention, fire alarms and fire safety, standpipe and sprinkler use, electrical crisis prevention and management, elder abuse and other topics.
Most recently Ditaranto, 36, took a refresher class in CPR and an automated external defibrillator class. Soon she’ll be at a refresher class in green building certification.
As a doorwoman for The Beatrice, a luxury rental apartment building in Chelsea, since its opening in 2010, she is dedicated and finely tuned to the residents’ needs.
“I know 90 percent of my residents’ preferences,” she says. “I know who their nannies are, who their housekeepers are. I know where people who are entering the building are going before they even come to the desk.”
She wants her residents to feel safe.
“It’s not just a regular job. It’s home, too,” she says. “Along with the residents, the nannies, the dogs the cats, everybody, it’s one big happy family.”
She adds, “I like smiling, and for the residents to know there’s someone around who’s happy and content. “
She’s a woman in what is still a male-dominated field.
“You have to be yourself, you can’t be afraid, and it’s also a matter of treating individuals respectfully,”” she says. If you can treat them with respect, you’re going to get respect back.”
If she needs to be tough, though, she has no problem with that. For instance, she says that if a person is not announced ahead of time, she won’t hesitate to search their bags before they are allowed into the building.
Ditaranto’s credentials also include policing and security. She’s certified as part of the New York State Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), a designation from the city’s emergency management officials.
“If you have a terrorist scare or hurricanes, for instance, they’ll reach out to you,” she says, “to see if you’re available to volunteer-assist with the emergency.”
On her own time, when not on the job or in a class, she loves to spend time with her husband and eight-year-old son at their home in East Brunswick, N.J. She serves as a coach for her son’s soccer team a couple of evenings during the week, and at Saturday morning games.
She’s originally from Ireland, namely Tullamore town in County Offaly. She arrived in the U.S. when she was 14 with her entire family – three brothers, two sisters, her parents, an aunt, and a family dog.
“New York City is probably one of the best places I could be,” she says. “One is exposed to and learns about so many cultures.”
Still, as big as New York can be, she says that being Irish means that “we’re known by the third degree – every third Irish person knows who you are.”
Ditaranto’s co-workers joke that in the future there may well be a building with the name The Orla. After you hear her talk about her passion for her work, it seems like a serious possibility.