Employee does it all, from resident care to driving bus

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 Traci touches almost every department on a weekly basis. From transportation to activities, nurse aide to med aide, the only thing Traci 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, Traci 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,” Traci 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.”

Traci, 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,” Traci says.

While she describes herself as a shy person, coworkers beg to differ.

“We’re both really loud,” Beth Ann 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,” Dorothy says with a chuckle after a quick stride with Traci.

A longtime resident, Dorothy says Traci is part of a team making the center a great place to live.

“The people, everybody and everything, the food, everything,” Dorothy says. “Couldn’t be better.”

Traci 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 Traci 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,” Traci 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 Traci'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.”

Beth Ann says Traci “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 Traci’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,” Traci 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.’”

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