The Perfect Person for the Job

By Donna Lane
Issue Date: 
October, 2017
Article Body: 

Ellen Rano has been driving the Norwood Senior Center bus for 10 years. Her dad, Doug Ross, recommended she apply for the job telling her it was the perfect job for her.
Prior to working for the Senior Center, Rano drove a school bus and worked as a nurse’s aide. She said she has always had jobs that in some way served other people, but that her dad was right. This is the perfect job for her.
“I have the best job in the world,” Rano exclaimed. “It is a privilege to help the seniors. I love listening to stories about their lives. They grew up in a more difficult time than us. They lost husbands at war … and kids to cancer. They are proud people and I admire each and every one of them. They teach me something every day!”
So what do the seniors think? Inez Reardon who rides the bus every day had a lot to say.
“Everyone loves Ellen! I love Ellen," Reardon exclaimed. "She is one of the kindest, most caring, wonderful and amazing person I have ever known. Many of the women who ride the bus, including me, say that if they had a daughter, they would want her to be just like Ellen.”
One by one, people who regularly ride the bus came to say what Rano means to each of them.
“Ellen is so helpful to all of us," Aldona Jurgela said. "She’s very thoughtful and calls to find out how we are. She helps us with stairs, carries our bundles and is always cheerful and happy. I love to ride with her!”
Barbara Lambert, who is severely disabled and legally blind, was very complementary.
“Ellen is the best town employee we have," Lambert said. "She is a wonderful person, kind and helpful and does her job 110 percent.”
Rita Roy is new to riding the senior bus but has already realized Rano's compassion and valuable assistance.
“I just lost my license,” Roy lamented. “I was very independent. If it wasn’t for Ellen, I’d be stuck at home with my cats. She is very helpful, walks me to the door and insists on carrying my packages even though I’m strong enough to carry them myself.”
Florence Toomey echoes the sentiments already expressed.
“I can’t give enough praises for Ellen," Toomey said. "She treats everyone the same.”
“Ellen has a very big heart for everyone," Anna Krutil chimed in. "I hope she is picked as Woman of the Year. We all love her from our whole heart.”
Penny Faul further sung Rano’s praises.
“Ellen is one of God’s special angels!" Faul said. "My daughter worships the fact that she drives me. She sleeps better at night.”
Lillian Dennis couldn’t wait to give her opinion.
“She’s very accommodating, and very patient,” Dennis said. Then whispered, “We can sometimes get pretty loud.”
She also claimed she doesn’t know what she would do without Rano. That sentiment is seconded by Claire O’Neil.
“Ellen is a very loving, caring person," O'Neil said. "She tries to know about each person and will watch out for them and attend to their needs. She goes beyond 8 to 4. I’m legally blind and I truly don’t know what I’d do without her.”
One of O’Neil’s favorite excursions on the bus is to the Sunday afternoon Concerts on the Common. According to Kerri McCarthy, Executive Director of the Senior Center, Rano takes the seniors to the concerts on her own time.
“She goes above and beyond," praised her boss. "She’s the best!”
The seniors showed their love for Rano several years ago after she became engaged. Shortly before her wedding, her dad passed away. She said she will never forget how touched she was by the seniors during this time.
“In a way it was comical," Rano said. "They were trying to keep a secret. Each person was all dressed up when I picked them up and each had a gift bag. They wouldn’t tell me about the surprise but they giggled a lot. They said they were coming to hear a famous speaker.”
That day, 60 people gave her a surprise bridal shower.
“I was still grieving for my dad at the time, so needless to say I was really quite touched," Rano said. "I’ll never forget it.”
So where does the bus-bursting-with-love go every day?
“Every day is different,” Rano said. Some days she takes people to medical appointments, another day it might be grocery shopping. Out of town trips have been taken to Twin River Casino (a favorite destination), Castle Island, Plymouth and Nantasket beach. Most often, people are picked up at their homes and brought to the Senior Center to exercise, play Bingo, cards, or simply to have lunch and socialize. Rano said the bus is a free service for any senior in Norwood that doesn’t drive.
Why are all these seniors so high on Rano? Wouldn’t another driver be just as good?
“Other people have driven the bus, but word is they have not been nearly as accommodating,” Reardon said.
Watching Rano with the elders, it is obvious this is a mutual admiration society. Everything she does that the elders appreciate, she considers to be no big deal … helping with packages, making sure they get into the house safely, aligning walkers to make sure they don’t hurt themselves, checking up on them when they don’t feel up to going out. She enjoys it and considers it to be a privilege.
Surely her dad is smiling down on her whispering proudly, “See, I told you it was the perfect job for you!”
Donna Lane is a Norwood-based writer, lecturer and designer. You can reach her at [email protected].