Monday, September 21, 2015

Kids at Play

Summer is in full swing, and for many of our youngest residents that means they have the freedom to play outside to their heart’s content (or at least until mom or dad call them back inside). While we encourage kids to enjoy summer to the fullest, we also want everyone to stay safe. Here are a few guidelines to make sure these school-free months go smoothly:

  • Make sure your children are proactive about their safety. Whether they’re playing at a park, swimming at a pool or riding their bikes around the neighborhood, it’s important that kids understand what types of injuries could occur during these activities and how they can best avoid them. If an injury does occur, your kids need to know what actions to take—such as alerting a trusted adult or, in the case of a true emergency, calling 911.
  • Supervise your kids at the pool. While it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on your kids, it’s particularly important to make sure your children have adult supervision while they’re in the water. It only takes a second for even good swimmers to find themselves in a dangerous situation, so it’s vital that kids are supervised by someone who knows the signs of a distressed swimmer. To learn about how you can keep your family safe at the pool, visit
  • Slow down while driving through the neighborhood. All residents should take note of this rule. With children out and about in full-force during the summer, you’re more likely than ever to see a distracted kid chasing after a run-away baseball or skateboarding on the streets. So slow down, be extra aware of what’s going on around you, and be prepared to stop suddenly if a child runs out into the road. Parents should remind kids that they have a responsibility to be aware of oncoming cars as well, and to be extra careful when they are on the street.
  • Remind older kids to check in with you when they’re playing without adult supervision. When kids are out on their own, it’s easy for them to forget to let their parents know they’re okay. So establish a set of rules, such as checking in every few hours or whenever they change locations, and be firm about enforcing them. If your child has a hard time remembering to give you a call every so often, it might be helpful to have them set an alarm on their cell phone or watch so they don’t forget. It’s a great way for kids to build a sense of independence and for you to know they’re safe even when they’re not within sight.

While the summer can present many hazards, there’s no reason your kids can’t come out of it unscathed (notwithstanding a few minor scrapes, bruises and bug bites, of course). To learn more about how you can keep your kids from getting hurt this summer, visit for a list of great articles. Stay safe and enjoy this wonderful season.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Food Safety During a Power Outage

Power failures can be one of the most annoying—and disabling—occurrences in a community. Whether caused by summer storms, power lines crippled by winter ice, equipment failure, an overloaded regional grid or an animal disrupting a power line, electrical outages can be costly, uncomfortable—and without forethought—sometimes even dangerous.

Residents can face many hazards when a power failure occurs—usually without any warning—including losing refrigerated and frozen foods. Some food items can be salvaged, however, if you’re prepared.

In anticipation of a power failure:

  • Have at least one or two coolers on hand, and at least one spare 5-pound bag of ice in the freezer.
  • Know where to get bag, block or dry ice quickly when you need it, particularly if you anticipate a long-term outage. (Caution: Dry ice is made from carbon dioxide, so it requires safe handling. Never breathe in its vapors or touch it with your bare hands.) According to the Food Safety Branch of Kentucky’s Department of Health, a 50-pound block of dry ice will keep a tightly packed, 18-cubic-foot freezer cool for up to two days.
  • Have an instant food thermometer or appliance thermometer available to ensure your freezers, refrigerators and coolers are staying cool enough store food safely.
  • Arrange the refrigerator and freezer efficiently. Frozen food will last longer in a full freezer—up to 48 hours if tightly packed—and refrigerated food will last longer—up to four hours—if there is room for air to circulate around items.

When the electricity goes off:

  • Avoid opening and closing the refrigerator unless absolutely necessary.
  • Cook and use perishable food before using canned food.
  • Check the temperature of refrigerated foods if the power is out for more than a few hours. Discard any food item than has been at 40° F or warmer for two or more hours. Exceptions include butter and margarine; hard cheeses like parmesan and Romano; some condiments like mustard, peanut butter, soy sauce, olives and vinegar-based salad dressing; and fresh, uncooked fruits and vegetables.
  • Check the temperature of frozen foods as well. While tightly packed freezer foods will stay frozen for many hours, some items that may have thawed can be refrozen if they still retain ice crystals or have remained at a temperature lower than 40°. Fruit and vegetable juices; breads, rolls and pie crusts; flour, cornmeal and nuts; meat and chicken; and prepared foods and casseroles can be refrozen safely if they have not been at 40° F or warmer for more than two hours.
  • After the power comes back on, you may need to deodorize the refrigerator and freezer by washing surfaces with a solution of 2 tablespoons baking soda dissolved in a quart of warm water. Place an open box of baking soda inside the refrigerator to absorb any lingering odors.

Since the appearance and odor of a food item isn’t an accurate indication of its safety after a power outage, use the 40° rule-of-thumb. And when in doubt, discard the food.

While a power can go out any time, most power failures occur between mid-July and late September. But no matter when our community experiences an outage—and it inevitably will—knowing how to handle frozen and refrigerated foods can help us keep your food supplies safe until the lights come back on.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Know the Rules

Have you checked out the HOA’s bylaws lately? If not, now’s a great time to brush up on the do’s and don’ts of the community.

For those of you who were unaware, bylaws play a crucial role in keeping the association running smoothly. Bylaws are legally binding rules and regulations that each homeowner agrees to when he or she purchases a unit within the association. If owners rent out their homes, it’s the owner’s responsibility to inform the new residents of the bylaws as well. Bylaws include stipulations on assessments, building design and additions, and the governance of the association. All residents need to understand these bylaws so they don’t unintentionally violate them; owners can be fined by the association and—in extreme cases—sued for violating bylaws. Owners are empowered when they understand the bylaws and the procedures for changing or amending them when they are no longer applicable or relevant to the community.

While they may seem arbitrary, the bylaws are legally enforceable. They also help ensure the association as a whole can thrive and that members are treated fairly and equally. So don’t be left in the dark—check out the association’s bylaws today!

If you don’t have a copy of the bylaws, please call the manager or visit our website.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Are residents in homeowners associations and condominium communities satisfied with their elected boards?

Are residents in homeowners associations and condominium communities satisfied with their elected boards? How do they feel about their association's rules and restrictions? How about their association assessments?
The Foundation for Community Association Research commissioned a national survey of association residents to answer these and other questions. Here are some of the key findings:
  • 90% of residents rate their overall community association experience as positive (64%) or neutral (26%).
  • 90% of residents say association board members "absolutely" or "for the most part" serve the best interests of their communities.
  • 83% say they get along well with their immediate neighbors.
  • 92% say they are on friendly terms with their association board.
  • 83% of residents say their community managers provide value and support to residents and their associations.
  • 88% of residents who had direct contact with their community manager say it was a positive experience.
  • 70% of residents say their association's rules protect and enhance property values; only 4% say the rules harm property values.
We encourage you to download Americans Grade Their Associations, Board Members And Community Managers, (PDF), a free brochure summarizing the results.

Friday, September 11, 2015

AMG, Greensboro/Winston-Salem Homeowners Association Manager, Proves Tolerance Is Good for The World...and for Business

AMG’s May Gayle Mengert welcomed Ethiopian children arriving in Israel as part of a delegation from the Greensboro Jewish Federation, an organization that supports, sustains and revitalizes Jewish life, since 1940.            

            At a time when the news is filled with stories of hostility based on racial, cultural and religious differences, it can be refreshing to find people and organizations like AMG, Association Management Group, one of the Carolinas’ largest professional homeowners association managers, who honor and embrace differences. The news can seem bleak: A 2014 Pew Research Center study found that the number of countries with a high level of social and religious hostilities hit a six-year peak in 2012 at 33%, up from 29% in 2011 and 20% in  mid-2007. Yet there’s hope as well: the same instant access thanks to the Internet and social media that shows the dramas of everyday intolerance playing out in often tragic ways also, happily, connects us to a new phenomenon called The Values Revolution. Documented by Global Tolerance, a social business that combines profit and purpose to make the world a more peaceful, equal and happy place, The Values Revolution is a movement by consumers, especially Millennials, those born after 1980 and between the ages of 18 and 35 (and one of the largest generations in history), to want business to do good work–corporately and in the world. 
           Many of us agree...and the numbers are compelling: Nielson’s third annual 2014 global online survey on corporate social responsibility discovered that 67% of 30,000 surveyed consumers in 60 countries prefer to work for socially responsible companies, 55% will pay extra to do business with those companies, 49% donate or volunteer at organizations doing social/environmental work and 49% were interested in racial, ethnic and cultural tolerance, which includes religion. AMG personifies those values in its five offices across North Carolina and South Carolina with a healthy do-gooding culture. Nearly 100% of employees volunteer for a variety of causes–from 5K runs benefitting a local food bank to disaster relief in Haiti. 
             It’s an inclusive culture created by AMG founders Paul and May Gayle Mengert and, at its center, is religious tolerance.  Paul Mengert, HOA thought leader, CAI (Community Associations Institute) industry educator and author of the book Understanding and Improving Group Decision-Making notes “When one takes the time to really understand differing perspectives, cultures, religions and backgrounds, great results are often achieved.” Case in point, he successfully worked as an international housing consultant in Kazakhstan in the 1990s after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Over the course of 5 years working in a country with ethnic challenges, he and his colleagues privatized most of the nation’s housing–and made deep, life-changing connections. 

           Paul also served on the US Board of Directors of Givat Haviva Educational Foundation, one of the oldest and largest Middle East peace education institutions. Givat Haviva is a non-profit that aims to build an inclusive, socially-cohesive society by engaging factions in collective action to advance a sustainable, thriving community based on mutual responsibility, civic equality and a shared vision of the future. He was a part of the board that won a UNESCO Prize for Peace Education to honor exceptional effort in the areas of peace education, the promotion of peace and non-violence, and for work done for the resolution of conflicts through dialogue. For two decades, the Mengerts have also supported The National Conference for Community and Justice of the Piedmont Triad, Inc. (NCCJ), a human relations organization that promotes understanding and respect among all cultures, races and religions through advocacy, education and dialogue.

            AMG is a standard-bearer in the HOA national community, respected for its use of the latest technology and business best practices to help clients build effective community associations. With a mission to help protect associations’ interests and enhance the lives of community members while improving property values, it makes sense that they would be on the leading edge of religious tolerance. The Mengerts get it: they understand that building effective communities extends beyond their business. According to May Gayle, AMG Vice President and member of the Guilford College Board of Visitors, leadership on the issue of tolerance by the business community is important. “In the business of helping people manage their communities, we have learned everyone’s opinion really does matter,” she  concludes. “We’ve seen that the valuing of people’s ideas and mutual respect lead to the solution of many problems.”

Thursday, September 10, 2015

What Your Association Board Does for You

As a recognized homeowners association, our community has a board to help our HOA run smoothly. The board consists of volunteers who execute a wide variety of tasks you may not be aware of; however, their work affects every single resident.

One of the most important things the board does is create and enforce the association rules. While some residents may not like being told what they can and can’t do, ultimately the board is looking out for the greater good. By enforcing the rules, the board is doing its best to keep property value up and conflicts down. Of course, the board wants to make sure the rules are beneficial for the majority—and hopefully all—residents. You are welcome to raise concerns about the rules at open board meetings.

Another major responsibility of the board is to collect assessments from homeowners. Collecting this money is important for the stability of the association, because the assessments pay for the common elements enjoyed by all residents. Assessments also help to replenish the reserve funds, which pay for any major repairs the association may need. The board is responsible for the association’s finances, and collecting assessments is how it ensures that the association remains solvent.

Finally, the board acts on behalf of the association by hiring managers, attorneys, contractors and other professionals who help better the association. Board members also help conceive and lead many of the projects that will improve the HOA.

While it’s a big job, board members are happy to serve the residents and make the community a great place to call home. So why not learn more about what these volunteers do by talking to your board members, attending an open board meeting or even running for a seat on the board during our next election? The more people we have looking out for our association, the stronger it will be.