Employee Spotlight: Nina Carter
Nina Carter is nothing if not persistent. She waited patiently for 8 (eight!) years before she got a job at FSL’s kitchen. “I knew when I walked in that I wanted that job,” she said. At the time, she was running a small kitchen at a Christian bookstore, but something about FSL appealed to her.
Nina recalls, “When Karen was here, and I was working other places for eight years, I would pop in and say, ‘Karen, are you ready for me?’ and she’d say, ‘No, I don’t have any openings for you.'” Instead, Nina settled for volunteering now and then, but she always kept her eye on the job. “I’d pop in again and ask the same question — ‘Are you ready for me yet?’ I just kept coming back. It took me eight years, but finally, I came back and asked Karen again, and she said, ‘I was just getting ready to call you. I’m going to retire, and I want you to apply.'”
Nina laughs, recalling that she didn’t even know what FSL was called until she got hired. “I just knew it as ‘the senior center,'” she confesses. “And then once I started working, it was like, ‘Wait, who am I working for?’ And then once I read about the program and what we offer – not just food for seniors, but housing, help with housekeeping, any type of assistance—there’s a lot, and there’s a bigger picture of stuff that we offer to our seniors. I had no idea it was so big, and I’m just a small piece of it.”
“Everything Just Fell Right Into Place”
Two years later, Nina has progressed from kitchen assistant to kitchen manager. Right around the time that she got hired at FSL, she also got married, and as she puts it, “everything just fell right into place.” Without hesitation, she says that FSL is one of the best jobs she’s ever had.
“Working here and being around the people here—it’s a good positive environment and relationship. It sticks to you, and it’s a great place to be. In most places, when you walk into a kitchen, people are grumpy and don’t seem happy to be there. Being at FSL has just opened my heart to be able to help the people that I cook and serve. I’m just truly blessed.”
In addition to being blessed, Nina is also busy—but she likes it that way. Each day she prepares around 150-160 meals for FSL’s clients and staff. “The first meals that go out for home delivery have to be ready by 9:30,” she recounts. “There’s usually about 60 of those. And as soon as those are gone, I start prepping for the congregate meals. I usually do about 20-30 to-go meals for people to come and pick up, and then 15 staff meals, and then 50 dine-in congregate meals on top of that.”
Nina is also in charge of meal planning, which she does in collaboration with a registered dietitian, and supervising the kitchen. “My daily duties include ensuring everything is clean, and the food is safe. We have a standard procedure to follow in the kitchen, and the quality of the food must be perfect.”
Serving Those in Need
Nina has witnessed firsthand how much of an impact FSL can have in peoples’ lives. Not long ago, her sister suffered from a stroke. She was put on disability income, but it wasn’t much. Nina says, “With the program, she could come in and get assistance and help that she needed. I think all the services FSL offers are a true blessing.” She thinks it’s so important that FSL provides a place for seniors to go and hang out, rather than living alone in isolation.
Still, Nina would like people to know that FSL isn’t just for seniors. “It’s a good place for our customers to come and visit, and even though we’re a senior center, it’s more than that. Anybody can come in. I see people in their 40s or 50s come in.”
For Nina, making sure everyone feels welcome (and gets fed) is her priority—and one at which she excels. Still, she’s modest about her incredible work ethic and skill as a kitchen manager: “What I’m doing must be working because my customers keep coming back, and they’re happy. That’s what it’s about—the customers.”
Established in 1974, the Foundation for Senior Living is dedicated to providing integrated, customized care for those who need it in the Phoenix area. We offer a wide range of home- and community-based services, including:
- Affordable housing options
- Nutritious meal programs
- Health and wellness programs
- Senior centers
- Recreation programs
- Support for caregivers
These services enable Arizonans of all ages to live happier, healthier, more independent lives. If you or someone you know is struggling to meet their needs, don’t hesitate to contact us to find out how we can help you. And if you’re able, consider donating or volunteering your time to our mission. We can’t wait to work with you!