Heritage Resident Celebrates 101st Birthday

Helen Merrill, a resident at The Village, a Heritage rehab and skilled nursing community in Gerry, NY, just celebrated two very memorable milestones in her life—her 101st birthday, and being one of the first Heritage residents to choose to receive the COVID-19 vaccination.

Due to current COVID-19 restrictions, a traditional party was not possible, but The Village staff made sure she had a very special day full of celebration after her vaccination, including balloons, and a festive window visit from her family in Heritage’s decorated holiday Santa visitation hut!

Lisa Haglund, Heritage President and CEO, shared how important living a vibrant life is, including celebrating special moments, for the seniors who call Heritage home. Even amidst the unprecedented events and regulations of the COVID-19 pandemic, residents and staff have found creative and unique ways to remain engaged and be part of their community. She shared, “We were so blessed to help Helen celebrate her very special birthday. The seniors that we serve deserve the very best from us during this difficult time, and our Heritage teams—from chaplaincy to activities and everyone in between, are committed to using love, imagination, innovation, and faith to find ways to encourage and provide hope in the midst of this pandemic.

Haglund also shared, “We are blessed beyond measure that our prayers have been heard, and that our residents and healthcare heroes in our skilled nursing communities were among the first to be given the option to receive the vaccine. While we remain respectful of the right to choose vaccination, for the first time in almost a year, our most vulnerable population and skilled nursing staff have an individual choice in how they will fight COVID-19, and we are so appreciative of our local, state, and federal agencies for recognizing this need.”

The daughter of a local farmer, and born and raised in Chautauqua County, Helen said she has enjoyed being able to be a wife and mother of three, as well as a grandmother and great grandmother. She was an employee at Fredonia Seed for over twenty years in earlier years. In April 2020, Helen moved to Gerry, NY, to call The Village her home.

While celebrating her special day, Helen was asked how she felt about reaching such a significant milestone. She said that her most important advice to anyone looking to live a long, happy life is “hard work!”