Women’s Equality Day is celebrated in the United States on August 26 to commemorate the 1920 adoption of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which prohibits the states and the federal government from denying the right to vote to citizens of the United States on the basis of sex. It was first celebrated in 1973 and is proclaimed each year by the United States President.

To celebrate, The Highlands asked female residents and staff to submit short essays celebrating an outstanding woman in her life. Mary Ruth F., Betty H., Theoda H. and Millie S. all submitted essays. Read on to see what they had to say!


By: Mary Ruth F.

Unfortunately I do not know her name, I do know where she lives and that is how she came to my attention. Now that I am aware of her, I read about her almost every day because she can be found in every country.

Some days she is the mother of the family in Aleppo who has moved with her children four times from one relatively intact-relatives house to another. Food, of course, is scarce and definitely not nutritious.

Some days she is a grandmother with some of her family in a Greek refugee camp wondering what possibly could be the next step in replacing at least some of the security and thing left behind.

There are other days she is working without papers in a factory job that is seasonal at best. This is only a temporary solution to her family’s problems, but looking to far forward is too dispiriting.

These are the women I admire – they are the women whose tales are shocking and underserved. These are the women whose names I do not know: their names are legion.


By: Betty H.

During my growing up years, I witnessed my recently divorced maternal Grandmother survive and prosper during the Great Depression of the 1930 years.

A littler background —-

On October 9, 1879 Ella Mimna was born on an isolated farm in the south western Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania. She and her 4 sisters and 3 brothers had only 3 years of formal education, but their practical knowledge was unbounded. Their father was a Civil War veteran and his father immigrated from Ireland about 1835. Following the Old National Pike (Rte. 40), he settled in Grantsville, MD, still a small town in far west Maryland. He married a woman of the Lanni-Lanappi tribe, her ancestors were the poor businessmen who sold Manhattan Island to the Dutch settlers.

At 18 Ella married Norman May of Salisbury, PA., he had 9 brothers and 1 sister. (Boy, did those ladies need a Planned Parenthood office!).  Norman’s family were English and in the coal mining business. Norman the oldest died during the flu epidemic of 1919. My mother and aunt judging from family snapshot albums had a comfortable life. In 1925, on a large lot in what was to become my hometown, they built a lovely home. Sadly, they divorced shortly after and then the Depression crashed down.

My aunt was in college, her father contributed until she married. Due to my family’s circumstances I moved into G’ma household and secured a first row seat to observe and learn during my most impressionable years… 5 to 12. G’ma’s assets were her home, an established vegetable garden, a chicken coop full of laying hens, her wealth of practical knowledge, and strength of body and spirit; the only lack was cash. She solved that by taking in 3 boarders – 2 school teachers and one of my great uncles, they lucked out with their landlady, she was an excellent cook and house keeper. They stayed with her until they married.

G’Ma tackled dirt and disorder with no holds barred. KP’s annual “deep cleaning” scarcely matched her weekly cleaning. Daily the downstairs floors and carpets were dry mopped, swept and dusted. Both spring and fall witnessed a total upheaval, rugs went outside over clotheslines to be rid of dust, curtains and drapes were replaced with seasonal replacements. On a sunny, windless day, all of the feathers from the beds were dumped on sheets to fluff up, then replaced and sewn into their slips. Paint covered scratches, frequently a room was papered, and Ella was an expert at that job.

And then there was the garden. My memory tells me that it was a well-tended spot.  A large variety of vegetables were grown and there was always an ample section of cutting flowers. From spring until fall, there were flowers in the house. There were also apple, plums, pear trees and grapes. Canning went on all growing season. By fall, the shelves in the basement were stocked with mason jars full of colorful fruit, vegetables and jams. My uncle picked blackberries, wild plums and huckle berries. He also brought home an occasional deer, rabbits, wild turkeys, pheasant and quail. G-Ma sewed without patterns, she made quilts, plaited rugs and baked big loaves of bread every Tuesday. We always had a big Christmas tree and lots of goodies – popcorn balls, cookies (everyone in our family uses her ginger cookie recipe) candy etc., etc. She loved giving parties and having relatives from Pittsburgh visit every summer.

After selling her home, she moved into a Lutheran Retirement Community in Johnstown, PA. For several years she had a garden for the kitchen and did mending in the laundry. She passed at 95 years. I am forever grateful for my years with Ella Mimna May.


By: Theoda H.

Susan Stritar, My Daughter: An Outstanding Woman in my Life

It was January 11, 1956 in Herndon, Virginia. We were having a nasty snow storm. I was expecting my third child so I started to worry, that we would not get to the hospital on time. Off we go, a race between the storm and the baby wanting to come. But we made it, a six pound three ounce beautiful redheaded baby girl. I knew from the moment she was born she was different. You might say it was her first race in life.

At the age of four, she came home and announced that she had joined the swimming team, and her love of the water and swimming has continued through all of the different phases of her life. Growing up in the schools of Herndon, Virginia, she consistently broke records in multiple swim events- some of which still hold.

Following graduation, she enrolled at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, where she earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Mathematics. She paid her own tuition by working her way through college as a lifeguard and swimming pool supervisor in Herndon. After graduating from UVA, she entered the professional world as a software engineer at Bell Laboratories in New Jersey from 1978-1982: at that time at the forefront of some of the world’s greatest scientific advances. After four successful years, she decided to devote her life to raising a family and helping others.

Her family later relocated to Connecticut, where she has served as a board member for The William School in New London, the Mystic YMCA, and the Thames Valley Music School at Connecticut College. While serving on the YMCA board, she raised $100,000 over six years to provide sports and other activities to disadvantaged youth. In addition to serving as treasurer and a board member for the Williams School, she has committed herself to inspiring others with her love of swimming as the school’s swim coach over many years.

If you need anything, she’ll do it for you with kindness and a sense of urgency. She’s handled my relocation three times, she calls or visits me on a daily basis, and is always there to help me regardless of the task as I advance in years. I’m so grateful for this.

Even when she developed a mild form of skin cancer, from swimming so much in the sun- rather than let this get her down she devoted herself to raising awareness in skin cancer in others and driving cancer patients to treatments who could not drive themselves.

It is Susie’s kindness, amazing speed and devotion to others that to me is more impressive than any professional or academic achievement: this is what makes her an outstanding person. And her love for swimming continues to this day. She’s up at five in the morning, eats her oatmeal, and off to swim she goes. Nothing stops her. Go Susie go!


By: Millie S.

millie an independent living resident at Kensington Park Senior Living

There are many famous people to write about, of course, but I chose to write about my daughter-in-law Patty.

Patty is always there for me with a helping hand. Because of her, and her kind help to me, I have been able to accomplish many important things since moving to Kensington Park Senior Living. She is always ready to take me shopping, grocery store and many more places to get my errands done.

Patty is so much fun to be with. Her personality says it all, as many here at KP already know.

Patty is a wonderful and caring wife to my son, Joe. (She spoils him.) Her kindness is inspiring and has blessed our whole family. Patty is thoughtful to those around her and has a smile for everyone.

I admire her and love her so much. She is truly My Special Angel.

People like to joke about the mother-in-law relationship, as if it’s destined to be filled with strife. We are the exception!!!

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