BAKER, LA (WAFB) - When I was given the honor of taking over Hand It On when Greg Meriwether accepted a promotion, he told me every story would affect me, but some more than others. Well, this week's story is one of those "more than others."
Mary White is a professional nurse and has been for all of her adult life. Most of her work has been in nursing homes caring for the elderly.
"And there was just so much I saw that I didn't like," Mary told me earlier this week. "I didn't like the way that many times people were being treated, and was nothing I could do about it. And so I asked God if He would just allow me the opportunity to have a business where I could serve people with a sense of dignity and pride and encourage that in them."
After much more prayer and countless meetings with agencies, Mary's dream came true in 2000. She opened Promise Pride Enterprises, Inc. in Baker. Originally, her organization began as an in-home personal care service.
"We got our first client in 2004 in the personal care division where we work in the home," Mary explained.
But she prayed for more. And again, her prayers were answered.
In 2007, Mary was able to open an adult daycare in Baker. Clients are dropped off as early as 6:30 in the morning and spend the entire day involved in fun activities they may otherwise not have available to them at a nursing home or in the home of a caregiver.
"The day usually begins as they're gathering, they're watching the news, and they're telling me what happened the day before with family and friends at home," Mary explains. "We have a general group of activities, reality orientation. It's a different array of activities that's kind of designed for each person. We have a nurse here at all times that's always doing health assessments that are ongoing. Whatever's done in the nursing home we do it."
All client members must meet nursing home eligibility requirements, meaning they must have some personal care deficit. Client members at Promise Pride usually have disabilities such as Alzheimer's, mental challenges, or physical handicaps. But Mary and her staff of ten make certain each and every client member is treated with dignity and respect. They even treat their clients to road trips to places such as the zoo, the mall, or a movie.
But Mary's staff, who nominated her for Hand It On, admitted she uses a good bit of her own money to keep Promise Pride afloat during the rough times, never once considering closing up shop.
"Yes, it is a challenge," Mary agreed. "We don't get the compensation through Medicaid that we should get, so I just put in a lot of my own money into the daycare center, but God always seems to provide."
This particular afternoon, the staff invited us to the final event that day, which was gospel singing, led by Mary herself. This is where the staff and I surprised Mary with our Hand It On cash gift of $300.
"We want to honor you today Miss Mary," one of her staff members, Brenda Guidry, said as she interrupted Mary's piano playing. "We just want to say we love you and everybody here loves you. So from us and Channel 9, we honor you with Hand It On."
There was not a dry eye in the room as the clients and staff erupted in applause. Mary humbly sat still and cried. What a passionate lady. What a Godly lady. What an incredible friend each person has in Mary White.
You were right, Greg... some affect me more than others. Are my eyes welling up?
Nominate someone for Hand It On by sending an e-mail to HandItOn@wafb.com. Make sure to include your contact information, especially your phone number.