Community Homes August Resident of the Month loves others, and it shows.
Mercedes Rey was born in Puerto Rico and thought this is the place she would spend her life. But then, without warning, at age eleven, her mother decided that she (Mercedes) should be sent to live to the United States with her older brother, age 21, who lived in Lebanon, Pennsylvania.
And, just like that, Mercedes began here American life as a Lebanon resident. To this day, she does not truly understand how that happened. But she had to accept it.
She picked up the language, made friends, and adjusted as best she could. Her formal education ended after eighth grade, but she kept learning independently. and when she reached age 18, Mercedes decided to test her freedom. Other family members from Puerto Rico lived in other parts of the country, so she had the opportunity to move.
This began a life that led her to several east coast cities, and eventually back to Lebanon., where she is settled today. For now, we skip the details of the Adventures of Mercedes, and say that she has come full circle to end up back in Lebanon. She is here to stay.
Apologies if we are “spoiling the ending” but know that she is living a very happy life in her Poplar Terrace apartment, which she shares with the “love of her life,” her little yorkie dog Gucci. She has been a Poplar Terrace resident for about a year and loves it.
“I am very happy here,” she exclaims quickly, “I discovered Poplar Terrace when I visited a good friend of mine named Emma, who lives here. I was living in an apartment in another part of the city, Poplar Terrace was so much nicer, cleaner, and safer. I asked Emma to help me apply here. It took about a year, and an apartment became available, I took it immediately, an easy decision.’
“We have a wonderful life here” she says,” there is a group of dog owners that take their dogs out together, we also play cards together. Everyone gets along. I love helping others, and there are plenty of chances to do that here.”
Back to age 18. She was a single parent with two children, son Jose Bermudez and daughter Ellis Colles, but she was undeterred in her quest for life and learning, and fulfillment of her dream of helping others. Along the way, she lived in New York, Boston, and Miami. She worked in a variety of situations, with a common thread of helping others, particularly the elderly. In this area, she was employed for many years by Bayer Healthcare, with cleaning responsibilities.
The most dramatic example of her motivation to help others happened when she married a man who needed a wife for legal reasons so he could help bring family members into the United States. “It was not for love. I just wanted to help him and his family. We got along and slept in separate rooms.”
Mercedes recalls her most fun job was in Miami when she worked in sales for Vicky’s Cruise Store. We had to dress up in the cruise wear, “I lived like a queen,” she said with a big smile. “I was the top salesperson too.”
Her two children are around and working in Pennsylvania. The son is over fifty and the daughter forty-eight. Her family has grown too, including seven grandchildren and seven great grandchildren. “We have been blessed,” she notes.
Mercedes eventually reconciled with her mother, who spent time in Lebanon herself and eventually passed way with cancer. “I tried all my life to show love for my mother.” Mercedes said.
When asked what makes her proud, she said “” I am proud to be who I am. I raised my children as a single parent. I lived in some tough environments and never succumbed to drugs or any situations that could lead to jail. God has been good to me.”