Words by Anna Lee Vaughn | Images by Justin Hunter
In October, 85-year-old Mary Bray celebrated her 50th anniversary with Ridgeview Health Services.
Mary grew up in Indiana and began working at a hospital at age 16; this kicked off a series of different jobs for several years at hospitals and factories. She married her husband in Chicago, Illinois, before work brought them down to Bessemer, Alabama. This is where Ridgeview came into the picture and spurred Mary’s lifelong career.
Mary’s 50-year run with Ridgeview can be indirectly attributed to her cousin. “My cousin was a nurse, and she wanted to go to Ridgeview and see about getting a job. I went with her, and I was sitting out in the lobby when a lady came out of the office and asked if I was interested in working,” she recalls. “At first, I said no, and she asked again, ‘Would you like to go to work?’ And I said, ‘Well, now that I think about it, yeah, I would.’ I went to work the next day and I’ve been there ever since.”
Over the decades, Mary has worn many hats. She began as a Nursing Aide (NA) and later, after passing her certification test, became a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA). Even now, she continues to serve as a Restorative CNA while pitching in with housekeeping, kitchen duties, activities, and offering a helping hand wherever needed.
Mary’s dedication is fueled by her love for the patients. She shares, “I love our patients. I love to carry on and tease them and talk to them. And Ridgeview is a great place to work because it’s just like working with your family. I do my Restorative work, but I also do the activities and other things because I want to, not because they ask me to. I just love it; I love all of it.”
Mary is known at Ridgeview for her boundless energy and a perpetual sense of purpose. While she admits that everyone comments on how she’s always on the go, she wouldn’t have it any other way. Her life revolves around her work, her church, singing in the choir, and spending quality time with her grandkids – all of which bring her immense joy.
Mary encourages anyone interested in becoming a CNA to come to Ridgeview and says she’ll be staying as long as she is able.
“They might fire me tomorrow, but I’m not going to retire!” WL