The resident of the Omaha nursing house continues his enterprise regardless of the pandemic

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) – Due to the coronavirus pandemic, several nursing homes have stopped letting visitors through their doors. In a Millard facility, this meant that one of the residents couldn’t run her business as usual.

Merna Priestley has lived in the Good Samaritan Society nursing home for more than a decade.

In 2013, she started making and selling hats for staff, residents and visitors to the nursing home. Every year she makes about 75 hats with a loom that she keeps in her room. She earned about 100 a year. She says she can finish one hat a day if she thinks about it.

Merna usually sells her hats from a table in the lobby.

“And when it gets cold and they say,” Hey, I know where you got this hat from “and they laugh, they seem to love it,” said Merna, laughing at the memories.

It’s a tradition she and many others enjoy, but it just couldn’t be continued in 2020.

“This year was completely different as we followed the guidelines and had to close our doors at all times, so it was all about marketing and promoting,” said David Castillo, director of activities.

Castillo says he and the nursing home’s leadership team wanted to help Merna continue their hat business during the pandemic. So he shot a video with Merna and her hats and sent it to the residents and their families.

Almost immediately people called orders and 43 hats later they were sold out and Merna pocketed the money.

“It was a daily event for almost a week where I would visit them every day and give them money because people would come and pick up their hats,” Castillo said.

“David showed up straight away and did a good job. I was happy to see him every time he came into my room with money, ”Merna said with a laugh.

Castillo said in such a difficult year it was important to help residents maintain a sense of normalcy and helping Merna sell their hats was one way to do that.

Merna plans to continue her hat business for as long as possible and hopefully she will be back in touch with her customers next year.

Many residents of the Good Samaritan Society nursing home can use FaceTime, Zoom, and even window visits to communicate with loved ones to keep the spirits high. However, Castillo recommends that you write letters and reach out to residents, especially during this holiday season with a greeting or two to put a smile on their faces.

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