Pittsburgh rehab center worker celebrates 70 years of service
Nora Morant was ready to quit her job after the first day. Instead she stayed for 70 years.
Morant has worked seven decades for the Jewish Association on Aging. She hasn’t finished the job yet.
“Cheers to 70 years!” was a fitting theme on Friday at Charles Morris Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Squirrel Hill, which is run by the Jewish Association on Aging. They honored “Miss Nora” for her lengthy service as a member of the housekeeping staff.
Morant is believed to be the longest-tenured employee in long-term care in the country. She will travel to San Diego in October for recognition during the LeadingAge Conference, which represents the field of aging services.
Friday’s celebration began with a limo sent to pick up Morant at her Oakland home.
“Hey, hey, hey,” she said from the backseat of the car. “Queen for a day.”
She was driven to the facility and met with applause from employees and members of the administration. They all wore blue — Morant’s favorite color.
“She has inspired me,” said her niece Bertha Morris of Homestead. “She has always believed in me when no one else did. My parents are gone and she is my heart now.”
Morant was presented with a tiara and a sash. A lunch and cupcakes followed.
“It’s been a long journey,” Morant said. “It’s been an enjoyable one.”
The journey almost never got past the first day.
Morant’s sister talked her into going for an interview. After one shift, she said she wasn’t going back. Their mother, Josephine Morant, convinced her to return.
“I never regret that I came back that second day,” Nora Morant said.
And she isn’t considering stopping anytime soon. Morant, who turns 89 on Oct. 20, plans to keep on working.
She rises at 4 a.m. daily and arrives around 6:30 a.m. for her 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. shift. Her job duties and responsibilities have been many over the years.
Currently, she is in charge of labeling all of the clothing for the residents. She also helps fill rolling carts with linen, counting out the towels and sheets and blankets. She inspects them with a co-worker and friend, Julia Wisniewski of Hazelwood, who has worked there 37 years.
The two work in sync.
“We think alike,” Morant said. “We are like two peas in a pod.”
Wisniewski said Morant has taught her about healthy living.
“Nora eats right,” she said. “I have learned a lot about good nutrition from working with Nora.”
Morant said she remembers not being allowed to bring outside food into the facility when it was the Jewish Home for the Aged. At that time, everything had to be kosher. She also learned some Yiddish along the way.
Morant said the job is much more than laundry.
“It is about the residents,” Morant said. “I always had a wonderful relationship with the residents. I always believed I was helping them. It’s the little things. These are their clothes and that is so important because the clothes are their belongings and one of the few things they have left in this world.”
If a sock is missing she will search high and low to find it, she said. If something has a stain she will get it rewashed. She recalled washing handkerchiefs and labeling them so they didn’t get lost.
Mitchell Pakler, immediate past board chair of the Jewish Association on Aging, said the longevity is a testament to Morant and to the organization.
“She felt comfortable here and felt like she was part of the family here at the Jewish Association on Aging,” Pakler said. “That is what JAA is all about.”
Morant enjoys gambling, and the company presented her with money for trips to area casinos and Las Vegas.
“This truly is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for everyone in this room,”said Debbie Winn-Horvitz, president and CEO Jewish Association on Aging. “It is a privilege to celebrate with her. She really cares and this is not just a job for her. It’s a mission, a calling. She has made a difference in all of our lives.”
Phil Ricci, nursing home administrator, said Morant has worked there longer than some people actually live.
“She is so easy to work with and open to new things,” Ricci said. “She is a reliable employee.”
Morant said she has never called off and hasn’t been late. The only paper in her personnel file is her application. Morant said she has always respected upper management. She missed work twice for operations on veins in her legs.
She added that she never thought in a million years she would be there this long.
“I guess JAA grew on me,” said Morant, who was chapter president with the Service Employees International Union for 25 years. “It’s home for me. I feel like I belong here. This was a fantastic day.”
JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact JoAnne at 412-320-7889, [email protected] or via Twitter .