For the residents of Weinberg Terrace and Weinberg Gardens, Raisa Massuda doesn’t just help them with their finances and party planning, she brings life to the tall brick towers.
“She’s just a lovable lady,” said Beatrice Petty, a resident of Weinberg Gardens. “I’m truly blessed to have her.”
As resident service coordinator at the senior living facility, Massuda’s duties range from helping seniors navigate the world of social services to planning outings to casinos, plays and other local attractions. Theme parties, she said, are kind of her thing.
“I do not believe in old — I don’t know this word ‘old,’ ” said Massuda. “I believe in senior. And to me, senior means wiser, smarter, more experienced and more interesting.”
Massuda moved to Baltimore from Russia in 2000. Fluent in Russian, English, Spanish, German and French, she took a job with Baltimore City Community College teaching English as a second language to people of all ages.
“I really, really love to work with people,” said Massuda.
After working for six years at BCCC, in addition to one year at Comprehensive Housing Assistance, Inc. (CHAI), Massuda decided she wanted to make a career out of helping others. She took a position at Weinberg as a services liaison, helping residents improve their quality of life by assisting them with everything from obtaining food stamps to organizing group luncheons to starting activity clubs.
“I do it all every day,” she said of her busy schedule bouncing between social activities and one-on-one meetings with residents to determine what government benefits they might be eligible for.
For Petty, who is the president of the Gardens’ tenant’s association, Massuda is key to achieving her goals. She and the Terrace’s planning president meet once a week with other residents to brainstorm activities that would interest residents. When the residents decide on something, Petty takes the idea to Massuda, and Massuda makes sure the residents’ vision becomes a reality. This could be driving to the store to pick up supplies (neither organizer drives), arranging for transportation to and from a musical or setting up table arrangements for an on-site theme party.
For a lot of the programs that Massuda helps organize, such as visits to the opera or the aquarium, Petty said Massuda makes it almost effortless for residents to take part, something that makes life at Weinberg even more enjoyable.
“We don’t have to leave our apartments,” said Petty. “And then when we do leave, she takes us [where we have to go].”
For Massuda, the most satisfying part of her job is a little more nitty-gritty.
“There’s nothing like seeing people starting to live better,” said Massuda of her work with matching residents with the benefits they need.
Often, people who come into her office for the first time have no idea what they’re entitled to.
“They do not know that somebody can help them. And that’s where I step in,” Massuda said.
Massuda makes sure to introduce herself to every new resident. She encourages new residents to come see her so she can look at their history and assess whether there is something she can do to help make things easier for them. While a lot of bills seniors receive don’t actually need to be paid in full, for those that do, Massuda said, “there is always a way to bring them down.”
“A couple weeks after they move in, I see them here,” she said. “That’s how our way to a happy future starts.”
With a hand in almost every facet of life at Weinberg Terrace, Massuda gets to know many of the residents very well. Whether it’s through planning an event or making a payment plan for medical bills, said Massuda, “they don’t feel alone.”