In high school, Marcus Walker might have been forgiven for his lack of property management skills. He once allowed a friend to hide a gun in his locker — word had gotten out that his friend was packing heat — and recalls a classmate known as a hit man for a local drug dealer as “laid back and polite.”
Neither was listed as a reference when he was job hunting earlier this year, but not for lack of influence. That high school, George Wythe, is across the street from his office, where he manages the notoriously crime-ridden Midlothian Village Apartments.
“My brother works for the city — he's a police officer,” Walker says. “He's the one who told me, ‘Don't come over here.'”
Walker took the job anyway. Since becoming manager in May, he's instituted a number of programs aimed at helping residents, 97 percent of whom are single mothers, to get their lives together: Neighborhood Networks, a Department of Housing and Urban Development program that offers job training and resources to struggling families; a United Nations International Ministries program; services from the Richmond Outreach Center; and a development program for young girls called Roses and Wings.
In addition to the programs, he's often called in to break up domestic disputes, frequent occurrences at Midlothian Village. So far he's survived without a scratch, thanks in no small part to his earlier experiences. Call it training with a purpose.
“I saw the opportunity to be exemplary, to just be an example to persons around here,” he says, crediting his faith and “the best wife [Leticia Walker] any man can have on the planet.”