Cozette Carter was worried. Suddenly, the retired D.C. public school principal could barely walk.
Carter, 76, a resident of the Chateau apartments, a two-building high-rise complex in Silver Spring, wasn't in any condition to drive for medical attention. Property manager Coleen Vincent stepped in to help.
Vincent didn't just call for an ambulance or a taxi. She drove Carter to the Washington Hospital Center in the District, and stayed with her until she was admitted.
Then Vincent sent flowers to Carter's room.
"She really did rescue me," said Carter, recalling the 2001 incident.
Tenants of the Chateau said the assistance provided by Vincent shows the type of care and attention they get at the apartment complex, which is run by Southern Management Corp.
The property management company's literature promotes the Chateau as a community, and some residents said the description is more than a public relations slogan.
"The people here are very nice. Everybody speaks on the elevators. And management bends over backwards to help you," said Ralph Campbell, 75. "When I need something done in the apartment, like a new light bulb, they're there right away. I thought I had to do that myself, but they said, 'No, sir.' "
Vincent said the staff's effort to foster a sense of community is reflected in the number of people who have stayed at the Chateau for decades.
Six tenants have lived in the complex since it opened in 1964, Vincent said.
"They really do feel like this is their home," Vincent said. "They'll be here until the end of their time."
Tenants at the Chateau include federal, state and local government workers, professionals, blue-collar workers, college students, and members of the military. Discounts are available for people in the military and students. There is a shuttle bus that goes between the complex and the University of Maryland at College Park.
Both buildings have secure doors and front desks that are staffed around the clock. Desk clerks not only accept packages and mail for tenants, they make dinner reservations, reserve flights, and lend movies and video games for free.
"They will water your plants and feed your pets if you are out of town. Living by myself and having to travel a lot for my summer job, I really appreciate this service," said Cheryl Tobler, 34, a University of Maryland graduate student who lives in a one-bedroom unit on the 16th floor.
The complex's well-maintained grounds feature a tennis court and a large swimming pool with a diving board. The pool, which is open from late May to Labor Day, is staffed by a lifeguard and is the site of an annual summer barbecue organized by the property's management.
The basement of one of the buildings has a spacious community room that includes a kitchen, a refrigerator and, in the lounge area, four comfortable green leather couches and three glass-topped tables. The community room is popular for birthday parties and baby showers, Vincent said.
The apartments feature huge closets, and the units on the upper floors offer spectacular views. On a clear day, Washington National Cathedral and the Capitol dome are visible from upper units that face the District.
Though the complex is near a Capital Beltway on-ramp and just off the busy main artery of New Hampshire Avenue, it's not easy to find if you don't know where you're going. Loiterers and strangers who shouldn't be on the grounds would quickly stand out. For added safety, the Chateau has security cameras placed discreetly in the lobbies of both buildings. The cameras record who enters and leaves the buildings.
Either by taking the Beltway or surface streets, tenants have quick access to the District, Northern Virginia, and Prince George's and Montgomery counties, as well as communities to the north, such as Howard County and Baltimore.
"You're close to everything," said Campbell, a who worked as a bailiff in the federal courthouse in the District before he retired in 1994.
Campbell and his wife, Rosetta, 74, moved into a two-bedroom, two-bath apartment last December, after they sold their house.
Campbell said he and his wife didn't want to buy another house, and they weren't in the market for an apartment for long. "When we saw this place, that was it," he said.