Brock Cvijanovich never expected to become the guardian of a 93-year-old Holocaust survivor but as fate would have it, he found himself in a unique situation that would change his life forever.
It all began when Cvijanovic, CEO of a New York-based property management company, KOmanage and KORgroup made a deal to buy an apartment building in upstate New York.
The prior owner had a specific condition for the sale: Cvijanovich had to take care of a resident named Alice Schuman.
Though he was doubtful of the conditions he was agreeing to, Cvijanovich accepted them, not realizing the impact it would have on his life. He soon discovered that Schuman had been living in the building for over 60 years, and the previous owner had been drastically undercharging her for rent. Cvijanovich continued this practice, charging her the same $200 monthly rate, and running her errands, taking her to the bank, grocery store, and doctor’s appointments every month.
Over time, the two developed a close relationship, and Cvijanovich learned that Schuman was a Holocaust survivor who had lost her entire family in the concentration camps. He was touched by her resilience and strength, and they bonded on each trip. However, their relationship was put to the test when Schuman needed medical attention.
One day, Cvijanovich didn’t receive Schuman’s monthly rent payment, and he heard faint calls for help coming from her apartment. He kicked down her door and called 911.
She was declared unable to care for herself and since she had no living relatives, the state was going to take care of her. Cvijanovich couldn’t bear the thought of Schuman being alone so he became her legal guardian, along with his mother, a nurse.
“She literally had nobody else,” Cvijanovich said. “That was a lot of the reason that it went the way that it did.”
The 93-year-old was distrustful initially as she found it difficult to believe that they had no ulterior motives, but when they continued to visit her at the hospital and nursing home, she grew to trust them.
“I was visiting her every single day. They actually had a joke on the floor that she had a young boyfriend,” Cvijanovichsaid. “I’d bring her food, I’d bring her flowers,” he added.
They even kept her apartment empty for nine months, hoping she could return home. Their relationship was best described as “goofy,” as Cvijanovich and Schuman would mess around with each other. The nurses found it hysterical, and Schuman even pulled pranks on Cvijanovich.
“I would literally go in there and mess around with her. The nurses would think it was hysterical. She’d mess around with me, prank me, take my stuff when I wasn’t looking. She thought that was hysterical,” Cvijanovich recalls.
Sadly, Schuman passed away in January from pneumonia, but Cvijanovich and his mother were by her side, holding her hands.
This story is not only heartwarming and inspiring but also shows that sometimes the most unexpected encounters can lead to lifelong bonds. And in the end, it’s the relationships we build with others that truly matter.