Service is generational for Scholz family

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You can stuff a lot of memories into 44 years at one Good Samaritan Society location.

“I felt I could make a difference here,” Mary Ellen Scholz says about her time at Good Samaritan Society – Atkinson in north central Nebraska.

The long-term care community’s first social worker began her service in 1978 after seven years as a local teacher.

“The first day I came to work I was scared to death. I hadn’t had a lot of exposure to nursing homes,” Mary Ellen says. “We had to have a social worker but I don’t know if anybody really knew what we were supposed to do.”

Putting a degree in social work from Mount Marty to good use, she developed a program for Atkinson’s residents. “When people came in, I think we had to realize that they had a story. Each of them had a story,” Mary Ellen says.

Sharing passion for residents with family

Deeply invested in those stories, the South Dakota native began sharing her passion with husband Roger and their three children.

“I always joke that I was the kid being ‘voluntold’ what to do as she worked and they’d have community picnics or various things like that,” son Dustin Scholz says.

Between chores at their nearby dairy farm, Dustin started chipping in around campus, cutting grass, as a teenager.

“He said, ‘I will do that but I will not go in the building,’” Mary Ellen recalls about Dustin’s first few days. “Now, I don’t know if you know Dustin or not but, ‘not go in the building?’ I said OK. I thought this will be interesting. Within two weeks, he knew every resident in the building.”

After 30 years with the organization, Dustin is now a Society executive overseeing locations in three states.