by Lisa Tome
Alice Brill is a one woman welcome wagon.
Brill, 90, a resident at Calvert Manor Healthcare Center for nearly two years, prepares for new "neighbors" sometimes days before they arrive.
Brill, who lived in downtown Rising Sun for nearly 30 years before moving to Calvert Manor, spent her whole life working. She worked in a cotton mill in Virginia and a drug store in West Virginia. She also worked in several sewing factories including one in Oxford, Pa.
Now that she's gotten older, her work has become more refined.
She works with beads. With some, she makes bracelets. With others, she makes the welcome gifts for fellow residents.
"After I came here, I started making beads," said Brill.
She takes a yard long ribbon and strings it with a few decorative beads. But the key element helps Calvert Manor staff identify which resident belongs to which wheelchair. She strings letters together to spell out the first name of each incoming resident. She explained that her use of first names provides a personal touch.
She started small, at first doing the creations for just the wing of the center where she lives. Then she worked tirelessly creating them for 54 residents on the other side of the building.
She has fine tuned her craft.
"I go to the desk and ask if they have new patients coming. I put the first name on with the beads and have them made before they get here. I love to do it. I like to see their faces," she said.
The bracelets and ankle bracelets that she also makes, are given as gifts. "The nurses can't wear them here. They take them home," Brill said.
Her kindness and handiwork has been rewarded. After someone left the center, they sent her a homemade pillowcase as thanks for her kindness.
"I'm happy making someone else happy," said Brill. "When you're in here, what else could you do, but make beads or paint?" She also creates colored pencils sketches which she gives away.
"I can't walk. I have to be lifted. I just sit in this chair all the time," she said.
She is also an active bird and squirrel watcher. She currently has eight bird feeders outside the window of her room. "I love animals," she said.
Calvert Manor Healthcare founder Ruth Graybeal said that Brill is "the welcoming hostess" at the facility. "It is very helpful to have the wheelchairs I.D.ed and she (Brill) is always very pleasant," said Graybeal.
"I like to make people happy. Any little thing to see a smile on someone's face," Brill added.