Lynda Neupert Byers grew up across the road from Concordia at Cabot and wondered as a teenager standing at Brewer’s Barber Shop to catch her school bus what it was like living in that building (Oertel Care Center).
“It never crossed my mind that one day I would work in that building,” she laughed. “My Dad delivered potatoes and tomatoes to the home.”
And in 1979, looking for job security to raise two sons, she found herself in that very building in the Dietary Department, where she worked for four years.
“I was promoted to head cook within a month and eventually became supervisor,” she said. “I learned a lot and still use the same recipe for homemade buns and biscuits.”
She reminisced about baking all the pies for festivals and transferring them to the barn (where the annual summer festivals were once held). One of her greatest challenges was learning the names of the 100 residents they served.
Lynda transferred to the Laundry Department and stayed until last June, when she accepted a part-time position at Haven II.
“Thirty-five years ago, we had a washer that looked like a hot water tank cut in half. A release pedal drained the water, but we had to place all of the clothing into an extractor to spin out the excessive water,” she explained.
In those days she had two staff members, and together, they did the wash for 100 residents.
“Today there are five staff members caring for 300 residents, with three 100-pound washers and five 125-pound dryers,” she said. “While I had more responsibility, with that kind of automation, life was much simpler.”
One of her favorite Concordia memories is the Christmas Party when President and CEO Keith Frndak announced that all 20-year employees were eligible to receive a gift of a vacation or a big screen TV.
“We took a nine-day cruise to Bermuda and then to the Caribbean islands of St. Thomas, San Juan and St. Martin,” she said.
Lynda still lives across the road, has four grandkids and two great grandchildren and also works at a local greenhouse, where in the summer she plants 100,000 plants. She and her family also like to “garage sale.”
She looks back on her first day and how much both Concordia and she have grown – one challenge at a time.
“It’s always been about the residents,” she said. “You give and they give back with kind words, compliments, appreciation and lots of love.”
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