Linda Sickmeier spent many years working her way up at a local restaurant, from bus-person to waitress to cook, when she realized she was looking for something more. She found it at Luther Acres, a Luthercare community in Lititz, where she recently celebrated 30 years of service as a cook, helping to provide tasty, satisfying and nutritious meals for our residents.
“This is my second home! I love all the residents, and they are so awesome,” Linda says, adding, “I love to serve them, make them feel special, and get to know their favorite foods.”
In honor of her years of service, Linda was recently recognized with a celebratory cake and kind words from colleagues and leadership team members.
“What always strikes me about Linda is that I cannot recall a time where I have interacted with her and wasn’t greeted by a smile,” says Matt Oathout, Luthercare’s Senior Vice President of Operations. “Her positivity is infectious and her genuine affection for the residents is obvious. Although we are celebrating her 30 years of service, I hope we get to celebrate many more.”
Linda joined the Dining Services team at Luther Acres in 1991 after growing tired of the late hours that came with working at a restaurant as well as the lack of benefits. As a lifelong Ephrata/Akron resident, she was familiar with nearby Luther Acres and knew several people, including her great-aunt, who lived here. Joining the team afforded her a more regular schedule with good benefits and the opportunity to make lasting connections with residents and their families. Her children also spent time here volunteering when they were young.
Linda is perhaps most known by current residents for her warm smile, friendly demeanor, and her made-from-scratch sweet treats. In her role, Linda is responsible for creating the delicious desserts and side salads that are available at the campus’ Katy’s Grill and the Healthcare Center. She also takes point on catering requests and special events.
While the pandemic has brought challenges in how meals could be served to residents and in staffing demands, Linda pitches in wherever she’s needed, and her hard work and dedication is recognized.
“Although I’ve only been here a year, I’ve seen Linda ‘do it all,’ ”says Eugene “Bim” Miller, Senior Director of Operations for Morrison Living, Luthercare’s culinary partner. “She is our baker, doing everything from scratch-made shoofly pie to making 2,500 portions of chocolate bark for our part in the Lititz Chocolate Walk. She also regularly jumps into action in Katy’s Grill, helping to serve our residents and guests, or just sharing a kind word and asking about their families. Linda has seen and supported so many of our residents as they have gone completely through the continuum of care that Luthercare offers, making sure they feel well cared for and loved!”
Over the years, Linda has seen the dining operations, options and spaces change in several ways. As an example, Linda remembers the days of past when farmers and the greater community could donate fruits and vegetables to use for resident meals, and she recalls how she and fellow cooks were required to be outfitted in a dress, nylons, and white shoes; today, she wears a much more modern chef’s jacket and dress pants. She also recalls how the former dining room featured cafeteria-style service before it was remodeled a decade ago into a casual, sit-down eatery. The space now has plenty of room for residents, family and friends to gather, and the service levels now range from waited table service, meals to go, or some grab-and-go features for residents or team members.
One of Linda’s favorite ways to show her appreciation of campus residents is to take their dessert requests and create them. Requests this fall have included an apple-raisin pie, rice pudding, and shoo-fly pie, which she whipped up much to their delight. “The residents are wonderful, and I want them to be happy!” she says.
From all of us at Luthercare, thank you for all you do, Linda, and congratulations on reaching such an incredible milestone!