50 years of ser­vice

Se­nior cen­ter cel­e­brates long­time em­ployee

Newark Post - - FRONT PAGE - By BROOKE SCHULTZ [email protected]­pub.com

While she dis­cusses her years at Ne­wark Se­nior Cen­ter, Mar­garet “Tootie” Fraser men­tions a hand­ful of peo­ple – from for­mer col­leagues, to cur­rent co­work­ers, to those who use the cen­ter.

“I get along re­ally well with them,” she said. “I wouldn’t know what to do with­out them.”

Fraser be­gan work­ing at the se­nior cen­ter 50 years ago as a sec­re­tary – in the days of short­hand and type­writ­ers – and while her job has evolved, her com­mit­ment to the cen­ter and the peo­ple it serves has only deep­ened.

“It’s a fun place,” she said. “You get along with so many peo­ple and you see peo­ple. And I say, if I re­tired, I’d still be here. So why not get paid for com­ing?”

When she was 22, Fraser was hired at the cen­ter when it was in its sec­ond or third year. Beyond her re­spon­si­bil­i­ties as a sec­re­tary, she would pick peo­ple up to bring the them to the cen­ter.

“That was part of my job, and I went clear up to Stan­ton,” she said. “They wanted to come, and I picked them up and brought them down.”

Asked what she does dayto-day now, she said sim­ply, “I do my work.”

That work in­cludes co­or­di­nat­ing mem­ber­ships, work­ing on her por­tion of the cen­ter’s ro­bust monthly news­let­ter, help­ing with Meals on Wheels, even typ­ing up things for mem­bers.

Through the 50 years, her work ethic has been ad­mirable, said Carla Gry­giel, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the se­nior cen­ter.

“Mar­garet is ab­so­lutely, 100 per­cent de­pend­able,” she said.

“I’m here even when I’m not sup­posed to be here,” Fraser added.

“She’s very re­spon­si­ble,” Gry­giel con­tin­ued. “I mean, she leaves at 5 o’clock on the dot and she ar­rives at 9 o’clock and she makes sure that her re­spon­si­bil­i­ties are taken care of.”

It is more than her ad­min­is­tra­tive work, too, Gry­giel noted.

“The other in­ter­est­ing thing that I’ve no­ticed in con­ver­sa­tions is now she has de­vel­oped re­la­tion­ships with chil­dren of peo­ple who used to come to the old cen­ter,” she said. “She knew the par­ents when they came there and now the chil­dren are com­ing here, and the chil­dren are in their 70s and 80s. She’s seen a lot of fam­i­lies grow and change.”

That part of her job has been won­der­ful, Fraser said.

When she was hon­ored for her long ca­reer at the cen­ter with a procla­ma­tion from the mayor, they gave her a “great blow out,” she said.

“She had peo­ple at that cel­e­bra­tion that she went to Sun­day school with, and from all through­out her life, peo­ple came for the 50th an­niver­sary,” Gry­giel said.

Gry­giel added that the se­nior cen­ter al­lows staff mem­bers to bring their ba­bies to work for the first six months, and Fraser of­ten ends up help­ing take care of them through­out the day. Many of those kids came to her cel­e­bra­tion.

“I’ve walked them around, put them to sleep, fed them,” she said.

Gry­giel said the num­ber of peo­ple who came to cel­e­brate Fraser’s mile­stone is an in­di­ca­tion of the im­pact she has had at the Ne­wark Se­nior Cen­ter.

“I think Mar­garet clearly is a good ex­am­ple of very ded­i­cated staff at the cen­ter,” Gry­giel said. “It’s like she said; it’s a great place to work. You feel like you’re do­ing good work in the com­mu­nity and you see the ef­fect that what we do here has on the peo­ple’s lives be­cause they’re happy to come here.”

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Mar­garet “Tootie” Fraser poses with chil­dren of Ne­wark Se­nior Cen­ter staff mem­bers dur­ing a party cel­e­brat­ing the 50 years she has worked for the cen­ter.

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