Geraldine Walker says she’s not a big talker, but she’s a shrewd observer.
She keeps tabs on the wellbeing of residents on the fourth floor of New Community Roseville Senior. That’s because Walker serves as a captain who monitors the welfare of the seniors and disabled adults residing at 1 South Eighth St. in Newark.
“If I don’t see ’em a couple days, I check,” said Walker, who has lived at Roseville Senior for 10 years. She said she even inquiries about neighbors who are away recuperating at a hospital.
In addition to keeping an eye on peoples’ physical needs, Walker also keeps a pulse on the emotional needs of those who may be experiencing personal difficulties or conflicts.
“I’m like a big sister to some of the people in the building,” she said. “I like to keep the peace.”
But Walker’s influence is more pervasive than she thinks, according to Alisha Chatman-Jenkins, care coordinator at Roseville Senior. “Ms. Walker is the ‘Mother Hen’ of the building,” she said.
“When NCC has its annual Spring Up, Ms. Walker is right there on the front line to help beautify Roseville by digging and planting flowers and removing weeds,” Chatman-Jenkins said.
The mother of four grown children, Walker, 65, spends her time between caring for her grandchildren and participating in the activities at Roseville Senior, where she actively takes a role in fostering a sense of community.
During holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas when residents gather for potluck meals, Walker is known to prepare traditional Southern dishes such as baby lima beans, collard greens and black-eyed peas. “I’m a southern woman—I can cook when I want to cook,” Walker said with a smile.
Born in Dublin, Ga., Walker grew up as the third oldest of seven children. She moved to Newark in 1973 after she made a trip to see her father and decided not to return to her hometown. She said that she worked factory jobs that she cared little for in Georgia and that gave her arthritis in her hands. When she settled in New Jersey, she took a job at Coupon Service, a mailing agency based in Jersey City where she worked from 1999 until the plant shut down in 2005. “That’s one job I can say I really loved,” Walker said.