To the Letter: Thriving in a New Job

Becky Wahl in her office at The Courtyards

Becky Wahl in her office at The Courtyards at Fishing Creek in Chesapeake Beach, Md. Ketzel Levine, NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Ketzel Levine, NPR

Being a secretary for several decades did little for Becky Wahl's sense of direction. Managing her husband's computer business, while an added challenge, wasn't the answer, either. At 54, she realized she had yet to find any work that seemed like, as she says, "What I want to do."

After she and her husband closed down their business, Becky Wahl had pretty low expectations for her work life. Then the mayor of Chesapeake Beach, Md., a family friend, heard of an opening for property manager at a housing complex in town. He thought she'd be perfect for the job.

Much to her own surprise, the job of running The Courtyards at Fishing Creek has become a dream job. Because of the increased responsibility and self-direction it demands, Wahl, at 57, says she's engaged at work in a way she never was before.

The Courtyards is an enclave of affordable housing units, with 60 apartments and 16 townhouses. Wahl says she relishes the job's challenges: the lease arrangements, the maintenance reports — and especially the letters, now written in her own words.

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