By Stacy Smith

After moving to Arlington Rehabilitation & HealthCare Center from west Alabama almost a year and a half ago, Eva McVay is delighted to reign as queen of her nursing home.

“Living in a nursing home has helped me want to help others even more. I volunteer in any way that I can,” said McVay, age 62.

Active in resident life, weekly McVay calls two bingo games, every other Sunday leads a Bible study, leads the newcomers committee welcoming new residents, and chairs the monthly resident council meeting serving as president.

“We have created an early morning coffee club at 5:30 a.m. Yes, 5:30 in the morning! We meet, we drink coffee, then we do exercise therapy. While I am in therapy, there are some patients who do not want to do their exercise. I tell them, ‘Come on, I’m going to do it with you. We can do this,’” said McVay.

First, she believes in giving herself to God because, “He is who is the head of life,” said McVay.

Second, she believes it is important to have common sense.

“Eat right, take your medication, and do what you are supposed to do. That is part of being at Arlington. We get our medication on time, and our meals on time. That is really good for us, it helps us,” said McVay.

One of the most exciting things that ever happened to her was the ability to give birth to her son.

“I found out that I could not have another child. I say the one I have was my miracle from God,” said McVay.

Her son, Ray McVay, Jr., is named after his father, her husband. She has two granddaughters of whom she is also especially proud.

“I admire my son Ray for being a servant to our hometown of York as chief of police. He shows love, respect and honor to me and to his daughters. He brings me much happiness,” said McVay.

She considers Arlington as a place of open doors and open hearts. In her leadership roles, she talks over grievances, problems and upcoming activities with residents and staff.

“She holds a very structured meeting as resident council president. Ms. McVay reminds, encourages and assists her peers with groups. She is an outstanding leader,” said Tawanda Sharp, Activity Director at Arlington.

“Staff listen to what is going on. When I have talked with someone, I have seen results. They work with you to help you solve the problem,” said McVay.

“I like being at Arlington. It is like a home away from home. It is great. The room is spacious, and I have closet space. I invite new residents to come join us in activities, and to see what is going on. The staff, I talk and tease with them all day long. I really enjoy myself here,” said McVay.

Editor’s note: This is the first story in a 10-part series about the finalists for the 2019 Ms. Alabama Nursing Home Pageant. On July 16, we’ll post a story about Ms. Brookdale University Park Betty Gilbert.

Stacy Smith, APR, Fellow PRSA, is a freelance writer based in Birmingham, Alabama.

The Ms. Alabama Nursing Home Pageant is July 29. Click here for more information.