By Stacy Smith

Give her a puzzle, she’s ready to solve it. Evelyn Dent has solved many puzzles in her life, and helps others solve whatever puzzles life throws their way.

When she was a young adult in her third year of college, she got sick and also had a daughter. She felt she had spent too much time and money to let a year away from studies hold her back. She puzzled out how to get back to school. She completed her degree, and went on to become a General Educational Development (GED) teacher, a mother of one and a grandmother of two.

As a GED teacher, she enjoyed helping students prepare for exams and activities that help shape them for success in their careers. “It is rewarding to have a positive influence on young adult lives,” said Dent.

Currently, Dent is involved in her church literacy initiative, helping people learn to read.

“Evelyn Dent is a leader, and doesn’t mind lending her time to help residents with their daily activities. She is like a ray of sunlight because her presence during activities brings joy and laughter,” said Tiffany Travis, Activity Director, Cherry Hill Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center in Birmingham.

“Growing up, my brother and I said that when it is raining, ‘God is cleaning up heaven,’” said Dent.

A resident of Cherry Hill Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center for eight years, Dent enjoys going on outings and socializing with residents and staff. Of course, some of her favorite activities are playing mental health exercises such as word search and word games that challenge her to make words out of the letters given to her.

She has served as president of the Resident Council many times. “I enjoyed being in this leadership role because it allowed me to suggest and help plan activities so all residents could maintain active lives which is beneficial to our mental and physical health,” said Dent.

Dent considers fellow residents and staff at Cherry Hill Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center as extended family. “We love and support one another,” said Dent.

“I am happy to be a friend with listening ears and encouraging words for others. Whenever I see a problem, I do my best to let someone know so that it can be corrected in a timely manner. We all deserve to live our best lives, and I want to ensure that for myself and for other residents,” explained Dent.

Dent uses her platform as Ms. Cherry Hill Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center to advocate for the happiness and well-being of all nursing home residents. “I am honored to be the face of our nursing home, and to show others that we residents are empowered individuals who have so much to offer and want to feel a part of the ‘regular’ world,” said Dent.

Editor’s note: This is the first story in a 10-part series about the finalists for the 2017 Ms. Alabama Nursing Home Pageant. On July 19, we’ll post a story about Ms. Cottage of the Shoals Cora Steen.

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

For more information about the pageant, click here.