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Homemaker does all the little things that add up big for Riverside’s Smithfield residents

Andrew Tucker

Andrew Tucker's story

Mr. Smithwick prefers his pancakes cut into square pieces. Mrs. Moody loves banana sandwiches. 

Mrs. Freeman doesn’t like the crusts on her French toast. They need to be trimmed off with the remaining bread diced into small pieces and served at just the right temperature.

Nobody reminds Andrew Tucker to do those things. He is a homemaker at Riverside Healthy Living Community Smithfield, where his job is to serve residents breakfast and lunch and clean their living spaces. The extras he provides, well, he doesn’t consider them as extra at all.

“I guess I get it from my mom,” says Tucker, 34. “She liked being around older people and to tell you the truth, I’m better around older people than younger people. I feel more relaxed.”

He takes it in stride if someone has a gripe and promises to remedy it.

One resident keeps a watchful eye over him every time he scrubs her hardwood floor.

“She wants every piece of grit up,” he says. 

If it’s not done right, Tucker expects to hear about it. But most of the time, he’s not fielding complaints. He’s going about his day cheerfully completing tasks while conversing with residents who call Riverside Healthy Living Community Smithfield home. 

He’s busy, of course. It’s not unusual for Tucker’s smartwatch to record 12,000 steps by lunchtime. But when he needs to, he stops for a spell.

“I was talking to Mrs. Pierce the other day for 45 minutes,” he says. “I talked for her so long, I forgot to clock out. The residents, they love company. Everybody does. They love people who care.”

Tucker listens to their stories about their families, their children, their aches and pains or what they watched on TV last night. 

He is in the weeds of details – who likes her tuna sandwich cut in half versus who prefers it whole and exactly how many creams and sugars residents like with their coffee and tea. Who likes coffee and who would rather have tea? While residents order via a menu, he knows if something is off. 

He’s ready with extra water; it’s a standing request for several. 

“It’s always appreciated,” he says.

Tucker’s worked at Riverside Healthy Living Community Smithfield for nine years. He’s largely an introvert who builds his week around preparing for his job, working and coming home to do it all over again. He feels good about his day when he’s doing good for others. He can’t cure ailments or bring back a lost spouse. But Tucker can lend an ear.

Sometimes he cracks jokes. Mrs. Grodi watched him trekking back and forth in the hallway so many times the other day, she quipped, “I want your job. You walk back and forth all day long. You get paid for that!”

“I get paid real good!” he responded.

Another thing. He’ll answer to just about any name. Most residents call him Andrew; some say Andy.

“Sometimes someone will call me Matthew or James,” he says. “At first, it threw me. I was like, ‘Are you talking to me? I’m Andrew.’ One resident calls me Henry. It’s OK. I’ll be Matthew or James or Henry for a day. I just go with it.”