Queen embraces role as activist

Published 7:25 am Friday, March 15, 2019

Ms. Alabama Nursing Home 2018 Annie Avery has a vision of what nursing homes should be.

“The vision that I have for nursing homes is that they need to bring these people out of the shadows and put them out front,” Avery said. “We need to give them a voice and encourage them. People don’t understand the talents that the residents have. So we need to bring these residents up front and dip into their talents, that way they can feel good about themselves.”

Avery spoke to the residents at Andalusia Manor Thursday, and she said that traveling to nursing homes is the most important thing she has ever done.

“I have had some very important jobs,” Avery said. “But I want to know that our senior citizens are being taken care of. In my position, I can be an activist for our senior citizens. If they are taken care of, then I am O.K. I get to be the voice for those that can’t speak up.”

She said that she has traveled to some nursing homes that were in a bad shape, and that senior citizens deserve better.

“I have been to some nursing homes that have had a bad odor as soon as you walk in the door,” Avery said. “I have been in some that the residents are so close together that they can reach over in bed and touch hands with the other residents. There needs to be something done. If all of the residents are on Medicare or Medicaid, they need to be taken care of.”

Avery is originally from New Orleans, La., but relocated to Birmingham after Hurricane Katrina. 

“I was on the mayor’s committee so we knew how bad it was going to be,” Avery said. “I packed up and moved to Birmingham before Katrina hit New Orleans.”

She is currently living at East Glen Nursing and Rehab in Birmingham and she said that she felt the same type of warmth at Andalusia Manor when she came in.

“East Glen is just a wonderful home,” Avery said. “But everyone living here has a wonderful home as well. I could feel the spirit when I came inside. I felt the warmth of each and every one of you here.”

Wearing her crown, Avery said that each resident should be treated like the kings and queens they are.

“Now is our time,” Avery said. “We are kings and queens and we need to be treated that way, but we also need to be polite and obedient to the staff. We need them and they need us.”

Avery said that she started a program at East Glen that she hopes will be contagious throughout the state.

“I started a program called Ladies in Red,” Avery said. “Twice a month, we put on our red shirts and we do community work. Right now, we are trying to make maps for the homeless. We also pass out little pamphlets to new residents and make them feel welcome.”

Early in her life, Avery marched along side Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., for voting rights.

“I was beside him marching,” Avery said. “I didn’t have any water hoses sprayed at me or dogs on my tail, but I did have eggs thrown at me. Dr. King had a vision and I have a vision too, just for nursing homes.”

In 2002, Avery 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.