CCNH Difference Makers – Rachel Uboldi

“Difference Makers” is a blog series highlighting many of the incredible employees at Catholic Charities NH, each making a positive and unique impact in helping individuals and families across New Hampshire move their lives forward. Today, we meet Rachel Uboldi, administrative assistant and receptionist at St. Teresa Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Manchester. Rachel is often the first person you see upon arriving at St. Teresa, ready to welcome and assist you with a smile. Rapidly approaching her five-year anniversary at St. Teresa, Rachel has worn, and continues to wear, many hats, which she gladly does in service to the senior residents for whom she cares deeply. Let’s get to know Rachel Uboldi:

How would you describe your roles at St. Teresa during your time there?

It will be five years at St. Teresa this January, and in my time here, I’ve worked in three different departments. I worked in dietary for the first year and a half and, for a little while during that time, did one day a week in activities. I then moved to the front office, where I am now, and I’ve got three titles here: administrative assistant, business office assistant and receptionist – plus, my unofficial title of Queen of Excel spreadsheets. So, I guess you could say that I’m a “Jack of all trades” kind of girl. The front office has definitely been my favorite because it’s the one where I feel that I’m doing the most good. To be in a position where I can help both residents and family members, as well as our staff, is very rewarding.

What do you enjoy most about working at St. Teresa?

The residents are my favorite part – they’re just such wonderful and interesting people. Just because someone is in their elder years doesn’t mean that they’re not still a funny person or an intelligent person. They all have fascinating things to share with me, and they love hearing stories that I tell them, reminding them of when they were young. It’s just a good back and forth – I can talk to them for hours and I do sometimes talk to them for hours! Our residents have lived through so much that it really helps put things in perspective for me, especially with COVID going on right now. They’ve gone through similar hardships, so it’s inspiring to see them hold their chin up and take everything in stride – if they can do it, then I can too. I think the most important thing to remember when talking with seniors is that they may be experiencing the world differently than I am due to whatever cognitive or physical issues they may be having, so you just have to live in their world. Even with those that aren’t necessarily able to convey what they’re thinking easily, we’re still able to have a conversation with them, just based on simple words that we can share with them, a handhold or a hug, helping them express themselves to the best of their ability.

What is your favorite memory of working at St. Teresa?

It’s a moment that I still get teared up about when I think about it. Early on, when I was working in dietary, we had a resident who just had no appetite, was not up for eating and nothing sounded good. Her daughter had been visiting for her birthday and we said, “we’ve got a cupcake for mom and we’re really excited about her birthday,” but mom was very clear, “no cupcakes,” like eating that cupcake was going to be the worst thing in the world. So, I asked her what was her one favorite thing in the world, the one thing for her birthday that she’d want to eat, and her eyes lit up a little bit and she said, “I’d really just like a banana split,” so I ran back to the kitchen and made that banana split, and it was loaded! Three scoops of ice cream, a banana, all the whipped cream you could imagine and when I brought it in there, she was so happy to have a birthday banana split and her daughter was in tears over it. It was just a small thing to make her birthday special when she wasn’t feeling well, and it was so touching to see how much it meant to both of them. Those little moments can be the greatest thing.

What challenges have you faced at St. Teresa with COVID-19?

Last fall, when we had a lot of cases, it was a really hard time. I didn’t get to see the residents much because I wasn’t allowed to go down on the unit at that time and mostly stayed in my office, but seeing my co-workers work so hard, hearing the families over the phone that they were struggling and trying to give them updates that weren’t always immediately available because of how busy everyone was – it was very difficult. I think I came through it stronger, but I would never want to go through a time like that again and I just pray it’s never going to happen again. Today, it’s still a challenge to meet everyone’s expectations with the limits on access that we have. Things we would normally do face-to-face, we’re not able to, so we do more over the phone or standing in the front doorway. It’s hard on family members that want to come in and difficult on our residents who want to see their families more. I want to be there for them all, give them a hug and tell them I know what they’re going through and understand what they’re feeling. I wish down to my deepest core that we could throw doors open and let everyone in, but it’s just not possible right now. We’re all wearing extra hats during the pandemic, working extra hours as needed and doing things that, a year and a half ago, we didn’t think were possible, but we’ve all become closer and it’s nice to know there’s a sense of camaraderie among us and knowing that we’re all in this together.

What does working here mean to you?

The most meaningful thing for me is just helping out our residents in the small ways that I can. I can go home at the end of the day with such a sense of satisfaction that I’ve helped someone, regardless if it was as simple as helping them make a phone call to a loved one, or helping them find something they have lost, or just being there as a shoulder to cry on. It’s important for our family members to know that I’m there as an emotional support to their mom or dad and it’s important to me too because I feel such a sense of satisfaction from helping them and providing some peace of mind for the families. That’s just really special to me.

How has working at St. Teresa helped develop you professionally? Personally?

Healthcare runs in our family – my mom was an LNA and my sister is an LNA, who actually worked here for a while and helped me apply for this position when I was in dietary. She told me that the receptionist role “would be so you – you should just go for it!” I kind of hemmed and hawed because it was something I hadn’t done before and I didn’t know if I could do it or if they’d consider me but I filled out my application and got the job! Cindy Hebert, who had the job and is now our Apartment Manager at Bishop Primeau Independent Living, trained me and taught me so much. Professionally, my people skills have really just skyrocketed and I’m able to help people and do things that I wouldn’t have thought I’d be able to do four years ago. My work as the business office assistant has also taught me a lot about the nursing home industry, so someday I would like to work in the business office. But where I am now, I see so many different departments, from social work to administration and human resources, so it’s really just learning from all of these people with so much experience, growing as a young professional and feeling really confident in my work. I’m doing so many things that the me of four years ago would have been like, ‘are you crazy?’ But I really feel like this is the kind of work that I could see myself doing for a really long time. Personally, my ability to deal with difficult situations, especially during this past year and a half, has really improved. I think I’m really good at helping to de-escalate things, or, when someone is in a really difficult situation, to be there to support them emotionally as a good shoulder to cry on. Again, before I worked in a nursing home, I never thought that I would be the type of person that would be helpful in that way, so I’m happy that I can be an emotional support to people.

What is one thing people may not know about St. Teresa?

Everyone here is truly dedicated and committed and wants to do the best that they can, and they all have the biggest hearts of any people you’ll ever meet. Luanne (Rogers), St. Teresa executive director, is so much in our corner and I’ve always felt very supported from all sides. If it’s a professional issue, I can go to any of the department heads and say I’m having a problem and they will drop what they’re doing to help me, even a personal issue as well. Every department head is available, so it’s been good working in a place where that is the norm, and we feel like we’re being listened to and supported.

Describe St. Teresa in three words…

Caring, exciting and close-knit.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work? What are some of your hobbies?

I consider myself more a homebody – my main things are going on hikes, reading, hanging out with my sister, or taking my dog for a walk. I’ve loved to bake and cook since I was tall enough to stand over the oven. I like to get creative and I enjoy watching the Food Network shows when they’re making these crazy flavored cupcakes or cake art. I have several favorite recipes that I have “stolen” – they put them on the website – and my favorite is a chocolate cupcake with a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup inside of the cupcake and peanut butter frosting. That’s been a hit, and usually the birthday request I get. I also love putting together a whole menu of things to throw on the grill. And I’m recently very obsessed with the crockpot world. Everything now I want to put in the crock pot. I’ve made pulled pork, beef stew, and as many things as I can fit in it.

What do you love about New Hampshire?

I’ve got two favorite things: number one is the seasons changing, I love fall and winter is just so gorgeous in this part of the country; and my second favorite thing is no sales tax!

What is your favorite motto or quote?

My favorite is Winston Churchill’s line, “If you’re going thru hell, keep going.” I just think it’s something that everyone needs to know. Things are always testing us and we’re always struggling, but we need to keep going. It’s a great life lesson for all of us to hear, especially during this past year and a half.

What is your all-time favorite movie?

That is hard because my favorite would be anything that is a period piece – historical dramas are right up my alley. The 2005 version of Pride & Prejudice with Keira Knightley would be one. I was a big history nerd growing up and I’m really interested in the 1400’s. Everything that was going on with culture and fashion was interesting not only in Europe but all over the world.

What is your favorite book?

I’m always the type of person that, the second after I finish a new book, that’s my new favorite book! But I think my absolute favorite is a historical novel called Half Broke Horses, written by Jeannette Walls about her grandmother, a horseback rider and teacher who lived a crazy life in the first half of the 20th century. It’s a fascinating story about a woman who lived a fascinating life.

Who is the person you admire most?

That would be my big sister, Sarah, who can do anything. She gives this aura of just knowing what she wants and is such a take-charge person who has always been there for me. We didn’t get along that much as children, but as adults, I appreciate her and respect her so much for all of the things she did to be a big sister. As I mentioned, she pushed me to apply for this position originally, and she has a lot of confidence in me. At her wedding I tried to give speech, and I was crying and couldn’t finish what I was saying and I think she’ll be the same way at my wedding.

What is one thing people might not know about you (or be surprised to find out)?

People might not know that I am the Ren(aissance) Faire person that dresses up, I play tabletop games, I’m a big Dungeons & Dragons player, and I’m obsessed with fantasy, Lord of the Rings, etc. I don’t think that people would get that from looking at me. It’s kind of embarrassing – as mentioned earlier, I’m a homebody and the only thing that will make me leave the house is dressing up for Halloween or going to Salem, Mass. Those are my kind of people – the ones who dress up. It’s so fun! I’ve got a witch hat and a cape, plus a lot of makeup to look all spooky-ooky. I just love it! Are you interested in becoming a key part of our team and amazing culture, helping others while growing a rewarding career as Rachel has? Click here for our many openings in healthcare, social services, administration and more!