Officially a driver for Good Samaritan Society – Albion in Nebraska, Traci Gragert is known to guide much more than the rural long-term care center’s bus.
“I don’t know what I’d do without her,” resident Dorothy Belgum says. “She just keeps me going.”
Phrases you’ll hear often as Gragert touches almost every department on a weekly basis. From transportation to activities, nurse aide to med aide, the only thing Gragert doesn’t do at the location is cook.
“I would not be able to do what I do without her,” Society activities supervisor Beth Ann Metz says.
Society administrator Gina Rankin adds, “I think what really is special about Traci is just her versatility. She’s very eager to do anything you ask her to do. She always goes above and beyond of anything we put her in charge of.”
‘I think I found where I belong’
Returning to the Society two years ago, Gragert believes she’s finding her calling providing care for residents and a positive workplace for teammates.
“It’s nice to be able to have fun at work. Some jobs you go to and it’s like, you just want to get right back home,” Gragert says. “It’ll be my time to get off and leave and here I am still an hour later. I’m off the clock but I might just be hanging out with the residents or another staff member.”
Gragert, 50, got her start with the Society when she was in high school. She came back to a nursing role later on but then “gave it up” to support her kids at home.
“Gave it up for my kids but now that they’re gone, I think I found where I belong,” Gragert says.
While she describes herself as a shy person, co-workers beg to differ.
“We’re both really loud,” Metz says, laughing.
You can often hear her coming from down the halls — inviting residents to church, activities or out for a walk.
“No sitting around here,” Belgum says with a chuckle after a quick stride with Gragert.
A longtime resident, Belgum says Gragert is part of a team making the center a great place to live.
“The people, everybody and everything, the food, everything,” Belgum says. “Couldn’t be better.”
Gragert says her goal is “to stay positive and try to help others to be positive because it goes a long way.”
National Ever Forward Employee Champion
These efforts are grabbing the attention of Society leaders who are naming Gragert the National Ever Forward Employee Champion. Society president and CEO Nate Schema even recognized the award winner in person.
“All of a sudden he starts a speech and says your name,” Gragert recalls. “My face got bright red, and my glasses fogged over because I got really hot. It was a very good surprise.
“I’m hoping it means I’m doing a job very well done.”
Safe to say she’s steering morale at the eastern Nebraska campus in the right direction.
“The national part of it is so special,” Gina says regarding Gragert’s honor. “This is our first time for a national champion. It’s just pretty cool to have somebody that’s so involved in our facility receiving that award because she just truly deserves it.”
Metz says Gragert “definitely shares in Christ’s love and that is a big deal to all of us here. That is another common interest that her and I share. We’re very passionate about our love for Jesus and our love for the residents.”
Both hold a special place in Gragert’s heart, right next to gratitude for being an Ever Forward champion.
“That makes me feel great. Any job, it helps to show your appreciation for somebody,” Gragert says.
“Even my husband said when I got the award, ‘She loves it out here. When she comes home at night that’s all she does is talk about her job.’”
- Driver delivers kidney despite being stuck in ND blizzard
- Veterans, college students revive broken down ‘cool bus’
- ‘Everything that an employee of Good Samaritan should be’