When GMHC relocated to a new space on West 38th St. in 2018, the steady hand of Imtiaz Waldin, director of building operations and facilities management, was there to orchestrate the move and ensure staff had the space, equipment, and supplies they needed to ensure the smooth flow of services to clients. In his more than 30-year career with the agency, Imtiaz has supervised several agency moves across New York City. His cheerful, upbeat personality, calm confidence, and light touch, while always getting the job done, have long left a wake of positive feelings for staff and clients. In this question and answer, Imtiaz reflected on his tenure and what makes GMHC special.
Q: What jobs have you had at GMHC and what do you do now?
A: I started working as outsourced security at GMHC in 1990. I quickly began helping out my fellow Guyanese, Myrtle Graham, by distributing GMHC condom packs around the agency’s offices. I was hired full-time in December 1990 to help open additional GMHC office space at 20 West 20th St. as well as handle internal messenger/mailroom operations. For years, I shadowed facilities staff on their rounds picking up many new skills: from installing telephone systems to planning fire safety programs to supervising contracting firms and construction and operations budgets. Today, I’m responsible for oversight and day-to-day building operations of the facility. I also oversee facilities and cleaning staff, security, cleanliness and hygiene. Facilities people are usually invisible if they’re doing a good job.
Q: What makes GMHC special?
A: I take pride in the agency’s work and service to the community. Coming from a disenfranchised background as a Guyanese immigrant working to live in New York, I have always empathized with GMHC clients. I’m a caregiver. If I build shelter, then I’m sheltering people, and if I do a good job, others can do a good job. I don’t have time for other commitments, so I look to have impact through my work by keeping things moving forward.
Q: What is your fondest memory of working at the agency?
A: The agency used to have client dinners on Friday nights during pleasant weather on a rooftop garden that GMHC had at W. 20th St. I enjoyed interacting with clients at those dinners. Since COVID hit in March, I’ve been able to work directly with clients by making Wellness calls two hours a week. I’m also proud of the challenging work I did to get us into the building at W. 24th St. I’ve enjoyed learning so many skills here.
Q: What has been your biggest challenge in the job?
A: Some GMHC moves and their financing have been very challenging for the agency. Head counts also have gone up and down over the years. You have to be resolute. I believe we can come out on top of challenges with effort.
Q: What keeps you going after 30 years at GMHC?
A: I rely on the structure that’s provided by GMHC and my family – my wife Audrey and children, Aidan and Isabelle. My family grounds me. For relaxation, I enjoy yard work. I recently gave away my snow blower to shovel snow by hand. It’s better [physical activity].