Cherokee County Health & Rehab Resident a Top 10 Finalist in 2018 Ms. Alabama Nursing Home Pageant

2018 Ms. Alabama Nursing Home Pageant

Top row from the left:

Ms. Camden Nursing Facility Dora Estes, Ms. Cherokee County Health & Rehab Center Freda Smith, Ms. Diversicare of Boaz Gay Nell Gillespie, Ms. East Glen Center for Nursing & Rehab Annie Avery and Gadsden Health & Rehab Center Pauline Ashworth. Bottom row from the left: Ms. Haleyville Health & Rehab Christine Arnold, Ms. Keller Landing Shelby Hill, Ms. River City Center Linda Morris, Ms. Springhill Rehab & Senior Residence Dorothy Miller and Ms. Woodland Village Rehab & Healthcare Center Melvaleen Roseberry.

Top 10 Finalists Chosen for 2018 Ms. Alabama Nursing Home Pageant

MONTGOMERY – A total of 61 nursing home residents are expected to gather Monday, July 30th, at 2:00pm for the 35th annual Ms. Alabama Nursing Home Pageant. The winner will serve as a spokesperson for nursing home residents and the Alabama Nursing Home Association. The event will be held at the Hyatt Regency Birmingham – The Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover.

“These ladies are proof that we can all make a difference regardless of our age or ability,” ANHA President & CEO Bill O’Connor said. “Each one is a wonderful ambassador of her nursing home. I encourage you to attend the pageant and help us celebrate the contributions these ladies make in their nursing home and the community.”

Preliminary judging was held in Montgomery to narrow the field of 61 contestants to the top 10 finalists. Contestants are evaluated on their outlook on life, personality, poise and involvement in their individual nursing homes.

The top 10 finalists for the Ms. Alabama Nursing Home Pageant are:


Ms. Camden Nursing Facility, Dora Estes, Camden, Age 87

    • Ms. Estes was born in Thermal, California, and lived in several places from the State of Washington to Bangor, Maine, because her husband worked in construction building dams. At age 40, enrolled at Wallace Junior College (Wallace Community College Selma) and became a registered nurse.


Ms. Cherokee County Health & Rehab Center, Freda Smith, Centre, Age 81

    • A native of West Virginia, Ms. Smith was unable to walk when she moved to Cherokee County Health & Rehab Center a year ago. Thanks to her own determination and a lot of therapy, she can now walk with the assistance of a walker. Ms. Smith lived in Sevierville, Tennessee, for several years and worked as Dollywood.


Ms. Diversicare of Boaz, Gay Nell Gillespie, Boaz, Age 88

    • Ms. Gillespie says moving to a nursing home was an easy decision because her husband lived at Diversicare of Boaz before he passed away and she received therapy there. She has three children, five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.


Ms. East Glen Center for Nursing & Rehab, Annie Avery, Birmingham, Age 80

    • Ms. Avery moved to Birmingham from her native New Orleans in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina. As a young woman, she marched for voting rights with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In 2002, she was named one of the Women of the Year by the magazine City Business New Orleans. She has two sons, nine grandchildren, 29 great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchild.


Ms. Gadsden Health & Rehab Center, Pauline Ashworth, Gadsden, Age 88

    • Ms. Ashworth learned to crochet at 16 years old and can make complex projects such as bedspreads and purses look easy to make. That’s why she teaches crocheting classes at Gadsden Health & Rehab Center. When not busy crocheting, you’ll find her telling jokes.


Ms. Haleyville Health & Rehab, Christine Arnold, Haleyville, Age 69

    • Born and raised in Missouri, Ms. Arnold lived in Indiana, Michigan and Florida before settling in Alabama. A few years ago, she received therapy at Haleyville Health & Rehab to help her overcome lung cancer. Now that she’s a full-time resident, Ms. Arnold helps others during activities and serves on the resident council.


Ms. Keller Landing, Shelby Hill, Tuscumbia, Age 71

    • Whether you like your hash browns scattered or smothered, Ms. Hill has you covered. She was a cook and waitress at a Waffle House while raising her two daughters. Three years ago, she suffered a major stroke and couldn’t walk and talk. She credits her faith and Keller Landing for helping her to walk and talk again. She even danced across the room at the Ms. Keller Landing Pageant.


Ms. River City Center, Linda Morris, Decatur, Age 79

    • Ms. Morris will standup and tell you about her nursing home. She was bent over at the waist for 10 years. Once she moved to River City Center, the staff bought her an UPWalker. Now she’s much more mobile and can walk upright for the first time in a decade.


Ms. Springhill Rehab & Senior Residence, Dorothy Miller, Mobile, Age 67

    • Don’t bet against Ms. Miller. Born premature and weighing only two pounds, she beat the odds and lived a normal life. She earned a Master’s in Mathematics from Mississippi State University and taught school for several years. Later, she earned a degree in practical nursing and began a second career. She’s lived at Springhill Rehab & Senior Residence for five years.


Ms. Woodland Village Rehab & Healthcare Center, Melvaleen Roseberry, Cullman, Age 80

    • Born on Bug Tussell Mountain in Bremen, Alabama, Ms. Roseberry calls Cullman home. She is a member of Woodland Village’s resident council, a resident activity volunteer and a part of the welcoming committee for new residents.


The top 10 finalists will have individual interviews with the panel of celebrity judges on the morning of July 30 before competing on stage that afternoon. All the other contestants in attendance will be part of the Honor Court and will be individually recognized during the pageant. Admission is free and the public is invited to attend.

Miss Alabama Callie Walker and retired nursing home administrator Bob Coker will co-host the event. Celebrity judges include: Ms. Senior USA/Ms. Senior Alabama Sara Jo Burks, Alabama’s Distinguished Young Woman Brooke Tarrant, Legislative Consultant Lamar Higgins, Region Bank Senior Vice President Evelyn Mitchell and Dennis Blair from the Alabama Department of Public Health.

Born in West Virginia with the Appalachian Mountains fixed in her heart, Ms. Cherokee County Health & Rehab Center Freda Smith then moved to grow up in Miami, Florida, until 1969.  She is intent on enjoyment wherever she finds herself, but prefers to find herself in the mountains.

“I have a twin brother. As teenagers in Florida, we would double date. If we were not having a good time with our dates, we would switch dates and just hang out with each other,” said Smith.

In 1969, she moved and lived for 45 years atop Lookout Mountain in Mentone, Alabama. Later, she lived for 25 years in Sevierville, Tennessee, in the Smoky Mountains. While there, she worked for hometown legend Dolly Parton at the amusement park Dollywood. She met Dolly Parton, and appreciates Parton as a businesswoman as well as appreciates her as a talented entertainer.

Content living in the mountains she loves, the 81-year-old moved to Centre, Alabama, several years ago.

Smith has six children, seven grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. Over a year ago, before moving into Cherokee County Health & Rehab Center, her health had declined.  Smith became unable to walk. Her daughter and she decided for her to live at the health and rehabilitation facility. Since living in the nursing home, she can now walk with her walker, and do daily activities on her own.

“My platform is to encourage residents to be involved in activities at their facility. I encourage all to have a positive outlook about living in a nursing home,” said Smith.  One of her favorite activities is playing bingo. “I also enjoy playing Chicken Foot, General Store, Going Cruzing, and studying the Bible,” said Smith.

“Freda Smith is loving and caring to her peers. She is their voice at times to make their needs known. She welcomes new residents, introduces them to other residents, explains the routine, invites them to activities, and generally makes them feel at home,” said Tara Martin, Activity Director at Cherokee County Health & Rehab Center.

A true mountain mother, Frieda Smith is happily at home nestled in the north Alabama mountains surrounding Cherokee County Health & Rehab Center, and readily welcomes all.

Story provided by Stacy Smith, APR, a freelance writer based in Birmingham, Alabama.

The Ms. Alabama Nursing Home Pageant is July 30th.  Click here for more information.


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