For nearly a decade, Carol Buckner has gone about quietly serving Newark residents as a Home Friend.
Her calm demeanor and caring smile make it easy to see why people welcome her into their homes with open arms.
For Newark resident Wilhelmina Register, a retired sewing machine operator who also worked for a pharmaceutical company, Buckner’s regular presence over the last six years—helping with light cleaning, chores, laundry and other tasks around the home—has made her seem more like family.
“She’s caring. She makes sure I take medicine. She encourages me to eat when I don’t feel like it,” said Register, who is 92 and lives by herself. Buckner serves residents who live at New Community Commons and Associates, both complexes for seniors and disabled adults, as well as residents who live on South 11th Street in Newark.
Buckner began working as a Home Friend on May 1, 2006 and reports to Director Tahisha Chambers.
“She goes above and beyond for this department,” Chambers said of Buckner. “I am blessed to have her as part of my staff.”
It’s easy for Buckner to strike up a conversation with her clients as she sweeps around their apartment or organizes the countertop.
“You get to know them. They tell you their story. You meet their kids,” she said. Even upon first meeting Buckner, she makes you feel at ease with her steady, gentle presence. “I love my clients,” she said. In turn, her clients will share their lives with her, cooking meals and introducing Buckner to some of their culinary favorites, which has included chicken feet.
Buckner said she first learned of Home Friends while she was taking a computer class and job searching at the New Community Workforce Development Center. She was matched for a job in housekeeping and thus pursued a career with Home Friends, she said.
According to Register, it was an ideal match. “She’s so perfect in so many ways,” Register said.
Born in Paterson, Buckner grew up in New York and then moved to New Jersey. One of 10 children, Buckner is the youngest sibling after having lost her younger brother.
As the single mother of five children—Steven, Stephanie, Sharod, Sharonda and Sameerah—Buckner said she enjoys watching television shows such as Law and Order, CSI or Matlock in her free time.