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

Michelle was referring to 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 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 helping the community 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 in retirement living. Previously she had worked as a general real estate broker in northern Virginia, using 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.

She parlayed her strong sense of interpersonal connection into the success she has had at Maplewood over the past 26 years. A first-of-its-kind retirement community in the DC area, Michelle said that Maplewood’s co-op and true homeownership arrangement is one of her favorite things to share with prospective members of the tight-knit neighborhood.

“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 the client, and how we can best serve their needs as well as the seller’s.”

And, as one may expect, Michelle’s role at Maplewood goes far beyond helping future members of the community find their perfect homes.

“Every day is different”

Michelle noted that in addition to meeting with potential new residents and their families, each day brings a new assortment of tasks that keeps the community humming right along.

“I give reports to the co-op board on the sales and marketing status, and work alongside the executive director, Barbara Harry, on our ‘state of the union.’”

But Michelle certainly isn’t stuck in a sales office working on reports and presentations all day. It’s actually more the opposite. She’s a member of this community, too, so that means she finds herself interacting often with Maplewood’s owner residents.

It’s a great way for her to strengthen the bonds formed during the initial sales process and to get to know the interesting, engaging, and accomplished folks who make up Maplewood.

“For example, 12 years ago I started a billiards club, and by now we’ve probably taught more than 40 students how to play,” Michelle said. “I hear people say that it’s one of the most fun places to be. When you hear people laughing and clapping, it’s usually the billiards group enjoying a game.”

You can also find Michelle easing new community members’ transitions to the community, as her impressive tenure makes her a resource 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 on how we can make Maplewood even more desirable.”

On that note, Michelle also gave her perspective on what makes Maplewood Park Place in Bethesda so special.

“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, you really get to know your neighbors and there’s a notable feeling of family among residents and staff. People notice it when they come for the first time; it’s palpable, congenial,” Michelle said.

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.

To coordinate your personalized visit, simply click here or call 301-571-7444 today. Michelle looks forward to meeting you!