“When I came on board, Maplewood was just a hole in the ground—a tenth of a mile long,” said Michelle Michaels, director of sales and marketing at Maplewood Park Place in Bethesda. “I literally saw Maplewood being built from the ground up.”

Michelle was referring to the year 1995, when this unique co-op retirement community was nothing more than a few concrete slabs, metal pillars, and a lot of dirt. “A skeleton,” she added.

Since then, Michelle has served Maplewood—its past, current, and future owner residents—with abiding grace and a friendly attitude that contribute to its annual ranking at the top of lists for the best retirement options near DC. She is just one of the many dedicated staff members who are helping the community to redefine retirement.

Read on to get to know Michelle and Maplewood each a bit better!

Her first experience at a first-of-its-kind community

Maplewood Park Place was Michelle’s first experience working in the retirement living industry. Previously, she served as a general real estate broker in northern Virginia, drawing on her personable demeanor and degree in communication and sociology (with honors, from Saint Mary’s College of Maryland) to forge special connections with her clients.

Over the past 26 years, she has parlayed her strong skills in relationship building into the success she’s had at Maplewood. A first-of-its-kind retirement community in the DC area, Maplewood offers a co-op and true homeownership arrangement—a distinction Michelle readily explains to prospective community members.

“I love presenting Maplewood to people who don’t know anything about us, because we’re unique in so many ways,” she said. “It’s fun to compare and contrast other options with prospective residents. I look at the sales process as a collaboration with our prospects to discover how we can best serve their needs as well as the seller’s.”

Michelle’s role at Maplewood goes far beyond helping future owner residents find their perfect homes.

“Every day is different”

Along with meeting with potential new residents and their families, Michelle handles an array of tasks that keep the community humming, For example, she provides reports to the co-op board on the status of sales and marketing activities and works alongside Executive Director Barbara Harry to prepare the annual “state of the union” report.

Michelle is also a vital part of the Maplewood community and interacts often with owner residents. It’s a great way for her to strengthen the bonds that began in the initial sales process and to build relationships with the interesting, engaging, and accomplished folks who make up Maplewood.

For example, 12 years ago, she started a billiards club and to date has taught the game to more than 40 students.

“Many have told me it’s one of the most fun places to be at Maplewood,” Michelle said. “When you hear people laughing and clapping, it’s usually the billiards group enjoying a riveting match!”

You can also find Michelle easing new community members’ transitions to the community, as her impressive tenure makes her a go-to for information about all things Maplewood.

“Because I’ve been here a while, residents will ask me questions and I’ll help them get answers or advise on where to get the answer,” she added. “I also work with the neighbor-to-neighbor committee to help introduce new residents, as well as the marketing committee to brainstorm how we can make Maplewood an even more desirable destination.

“I like to say we’re big enough to be interesting and not too big to be overwhelming. Because we have only about 250 owner residents, we truly have a family feeling among residents and staff alike. Even visitors notice it; the congeniality is palpable.”

That feeling is something that Michelle hopes you and your peers will experience firsthand on a visit to the community’s ideal location just inside the Capital Beltway. Plus, you can be assured that your visit will be a safe one, with 100 percent of Maplewood’s residents—and staff—fully vaccinated.

Ready to Book Your Tour?

We’re offering tours in-person as well as virtually. Whichever option works best for you, we’d love to introduce you to our community! To schedule your personal tour, call 301-571-7444 or contact us online so we can add it to our calendar.