This is not Nellie Berry’s first experience with a nursing home…or her second. This is her third experience and she doesn’t want to be anywhere else.

The story begins when Nellie’s husband, Gene, was living at Woodland Village Rehab & Health Care Center in Cullman. She became friends with the staff during her numerous visits.

“I got to know everyone and they became like our family,” 76-year-old Nellie said.

Her second experience came when she needed the medical care the center offered.

“Following surgery I needed therapy and there wasn’t anywhere else that I wanted to go but Woodland Village,” Nellie said.

Thanks to therapy, Nellie’s health improved and she and Gene were able to return home. They lived at home for a while until their doctor told them they both needed long term care. When the doctor asked where they wanted to go, Nellie said Woodland Village.

“We came back and everyone welcomed us as if we were coming back home and I guess in a way we were,” Nellie remembers.

That was almost four years ago and Nellie has no regrets.

“Living here in the nursing home has not only helped me, but it also helped my family and friends because they know that I am being taken care of and that I am happy because this is not where I have to be, it is where I want to be,” Nellie said.

Today, Nellie is fully involved in nursing home life. She’s a member of the resident council, organizes revivals and calls bingo games each Saturday morning. In addition, she’s a founder of the Go Getters group that welcomes new residents. She won the title of Ms. Woodland Village on her fourth try.

“I don’t know if anyone has ever been as determined to win and as proud to have won as Ms. Berry,” Woodland Village Administrator Mandy Shaddrix said. “She’s a wonderful and special lady, and we’re all proud that she calls Woodland Village home.”

Nellie and her husband, Gene, were married for 41 years.

Nellie hopes to win the Ms. Alabama Nursing Home Pageant on her first try when she competes as a top 10 finalist in Birmingham on July 27. 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 final story in a 10 part series about the top 10 finalists for the 2015 Ms. Alabama Nursing Home Pageant. Check back July 27 when we’ll announce the winner.