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Women's History Month: Part One

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Women's History Month, celebrated annually in March, is a time to honor the contributions, achievements, and struggles of women throughout history. It is a month to acknowledge the remarkable accomplishments of women in various fields, including science, literature, politics, activism, and beyond, while also highlighting the ongoing journey towards gender equality. 

March provides an opportunity to celebrate the resilience of women who have paved the way for progress and inspired generations to come. It's a time to recognize the importance of amplifying women's voices — which is why we thought it would be incredible to share the stories of some of the remarkable women who live at our Merrill communities. We are so incredibly honored to share these women's stories, and we hope you enjoy learning about them as much as we did.

First up, meet Mrs. Esther Morrow. Esther and her husband, Danny, have lived at Merrill Gardens at Woodstock (GA) for one year and are loving it! 

Lt. Col. Esther Morrow is a steadfast member of the Salvation Army and embodies the essence of service and impact within her community. Together with her husband, Lt. Col. Danny Morrow, Esther has been dedicated to the Salvation Army ministry since 1961, leaving an enduring mark of compassion and commitment. Her influence extends beyond her immediate family, with her younger brothers and their wives also joining the ranks of the Salvation Army, contributing to a shared legacy of community welfare.

During the tragic events of 9/11, Lt. Col. Esther Morrow was called upon to serve at the Pentagon, demonstrating her unwavering commitment to aiding those in need. Assigned to a family-assistance center, she played a crucial role in providing support to the relatives of victims, offering counseling, prayers, and comfort during the weeks following the attack. Lt. Col. Morrow’s resilience in facing difficult tasks is evident in her reliance on faith, stating, “Sometimes as an officer, you have to do difficult tasks. I depend on the Lord for counsel to comfort others.” Her selfless service and faithful reliance showcase the remarkable impact she made in her community and the country during times of crisis."

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Next, meet Mary Graham, resident of Truewood by Merrill, Modesto (CA).

For nearly 25 years, Mary had a small ranch in Riverbank, CA. Eventually, it became too much work for her to maintain, so she made the move to senior living. This was a very unexpected decision, but one she has come to appreciate. Mary has been an artist for most of her life, starting when she was just a young girl. She obtained a teaching credential for grades K - 12, and also taught art classes (among other topics) to inmates at a dual vocational institution state prison.

Mary won the International Peace Award for her famous "three faces logo" and won many other awards for her artistic abilities. At the age of 76, she became a published children’s book illustrator! When Mary first moved to Truewood, she was a bit cautious — but when the beautiful artwork in her apartment was noticed by Laurie, a team member at Truewood, she agreed to display some of her work at the community art show! Residents and team members loved her work.

Soon after, Laurie, who is a children’s book author in addition to working at Truewood, asked Mary if she might be interested in illustrating some of her books. Mary agreed, and has illustrated and published three books so far, which include; Tommy’s Treehouse, Miles and the Multicolored Dragon, and Dexter’s Doctor Visit. They are already working on book four together! The residents love coming down to the activity room to watch her create the characters for each book. Mary also teaches weekly step-by-step art classes to the residents.Mary has also been featured on Good Day Sacramento with Cody Stark — you can click here to watch the interview.

When Mary was young, she lost her eye in a tragic accident and then lost her father at the age of six, her mother moved her family to Arizona, but she eventually returned to the central valley as an adult. Mary also experienced many tragedies as an adult and uses her art, companionship, community connections, and creative fulfillment to overcome these tragedies. We are so honored to be able to showcase her story for Women's History Month.

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The last woman we would love to shine a spotlight on is Carmel Northup, resident of Truewood by Merrill, Georgetown (TX).

Rachel, the community's Active Living Program Director describes Carmel best: "Carmel Northup is one of the most kind-hearted individuals I have met. She lights up every room she walks into. She is compassionate, loving, and enthusiastic which draws people toward her. Carmel truly cares for others and it shows by how genuine and caring she is with everyone. Carmel is truly an amazing woman by being the astonishing lady she is."

We can't wait to share more stories in part two — stay tuned!

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