Lydia Guthrie has accomplished a lot in her 79 years of life and shows no signs of slowing down while living in a nursing home.

“Living at this nursing home has helped me grow as an individual,” Lydia said. “At home, I was alone and unable to grow, be social or meet my full potential.”

Lydia has lived at Hanceville Nursing & Rehab Center for just more than a year and plays the piano and sings songs at the center’s worship services. She started the Prayer Circle where nursing home residents accept prayer requests, gather in a circle, hold hands and earnestly ask God to meet the needs.

“At this nursing home, I am as happy as I could wish to be,” Lydia said. “The friendships I have with other residents is the most enjoyable part.”

Lydia’s track record of accomplishment goes back decades. She’s a certified lay speaker and choir director for the United Methodist Church and volunteered as an EMT. She was also a reading and math teacher and taught disadvantaged families how to cook and use food resources.

Life has had its ups and downs. Her husband, Douglas, passed away after 34 years of marriage. Lydia turned that loss into motivation and enrolled in nursing school at 56 years old. She graduated at the top of her class at 58 years old, and began work as a nurse manager at a shelter for domestic violence victims. She went on to work as a nurse in a variety of settings including hospice, a school, neurological and industrial.

Now that she lives in a nursing home, Lydia focuses her energy on making neck pillows, baby blankets and clothes. She donates her handmade goods to church raffles or people in need. In her free time, you might find her watering flowers or learning to play the ukulele.

“Ms. Guthrie brings all of us much joy,” Hanceville Nursing & Rehab Center Administrator Michael Vickers said. “She has such a positive influence in our center by supporting, encouraging and welcoming everyone who crosses her path.”

Lydia has one son, three daughters, nine grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.

Lydia will try to add another accomplishment to her list on July 27 when she competes as a top 10 finalist at the Ms. Alabama Nursing Home Pageant in Birmingham. You can leave words of encouragement in the comments section below or share this article on social media to show your support.

For more information about the pageant, click here.

Editor’s note: This is the sixth story in a 10 part series about the top 10 finalists for the 2015 Ms. Alabama Nursing Home Pageant. On July 21, we’ll post a story about Ms. Hartford Health Care Kathy Hawkins.