50 years of service
Senior center celebrates longtime employee
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.”
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.