By Elizabeth Sias
Seniors in Cambridge have a new smiling face to greet them for a daily meal.
Traci Doege is the new dining director at the Senior Activity Center (SAC’s on Third).
As a licensed certified occupational therapy assistant, she applied for the position because it fit her schedule—she works two hours a day from about 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.—and because of her experience with planning activities and nutrition.
Doege also loves working with seniors. She took time off from her previous job to take care of her husband’s father, who passed away from cancer in December.
“I realized that I actually really missed working with the geriatric population and making sure they’re safe in their homes and making sure they have the right nutrition,” she said.
Before SAC’s, Doege worked in adult foster care with clients with severe and persistent mental illness and chemical dependency issues.
She’s lived in the Cambridge area for 38 years and lives with her husband and two children.
As SAC’s, Doege enjoys getting seniors involved and hopes to see more come in for a meal and to socialize.
“They come up here to participate and get involved in the activities,” she said. “It’s not just to come and have a meal, but it’s to socialize.”
Her responsibilities include making sure the menu gets out, completing safety and nutrition assessments and visiting seniors at home to ensure they’re getting balanced meals. She also discusses financial and state aid options with seniors.
The meals are on an eight-week rotation and are made by a nutritionist who works with Catholic Charities.
Doege often tries to correlate activities with the meal planned for the day. For instance, this week they’re serving Swedish meatballs one day, so SAC’s is having “Scandinavia Day” to go with it. After lunch, they’ll talk about Scandinavian countries.
Overall, Doege has most enjoyed the people. Her goal is to reconnect the senior center with the community and the senior population.
“If we can get one less person isolated at home and draw them out either here or by connecting them with a service in the area, we’ve done our job,” she said.