Sarah's Story

Today it is our pleasure to be able to tell Sarah’s story and share how understanding it helps our programming team incorporate her past into her life in Sweet Memories at Commonwealth Senior Living at Churchland House.

 

Sarah was born on December 16, 1946 in the small, southern town of Inverness, Mississippi. She was one of two children, born eight years before her baby brother. One of her childhood memories that remains woven in her reflections is her first job as a young child. Raised on a plantation, she can recall working in the cotton fields with her mother and grandmother, but quickly realizing that she would not be a professional cotton picker (she chuckled at the thought). When her grandmother also realized Sarah would not be able to pick the required amount, she demoted her to “water girl.” Sarah reflects fondly on this job as she said she took great pride in bringing water to the workers and became very good at it. Her mother always taught her to “do the best you can do, no matter what your job is.” Another fond memory of hers was sitting on the mourner’s bench during revival at her family’s church on the plantation, Shady Grove Baptist Church, where she was also baptized in a lake that “you had to wade out into the middle!”

When Sarah was in the 7th grade, her “darling mother” and stepfather moved the family to Pascagoula, Mississippi. After completing the 8th grade, they moved again to Moss Point, Mississippi where she graduated second in her high school class of 82 students in 1966. While at Moss Point High School, she stayed busy with the many school activities that she loved and even became Homecoming Queen. After graduating high school, Sarah enrolled in a small business school in New Orleans, and later attended Bates Business School in Pascagoula, Mississippi.

After graduating, Sarah went on to work at Ingalls Shipbuilding in 1968 before enlisting in the Army Reserve where she served three of the five years that she worked as a courier for Ingalls. She recalls that working for Ingalls was only supposed to be a temporary job, but it went on for 15 years! She held numerous positions at the company but holds dear the accomplishment of being selected as the first African American woman courier, a role that had never been filled by just one person before. Her duties were to fly to Norfolk, Virginia every week to take invoices from the Navy in Pascagoula to be processed. Once they were processed, she would bring them back to payroll for the 20 thousand employees of Ingalls to be paid. The position originally requested a man, but no one wanted the full-time position with the stress of flying and meeting Federal Reserve deadlines – Sarah jumped at the opportunity!

Later in 1983, she was hired to work at Chevron’s Oil Refinery, where she was part of the team for 17 years. Although she enjoyed her time at Chevron, she was looking forward to retiring with her daughter, JJ, as she retired from her 20 years of service in the Navy. Sarah has always told JJ, “Even though my accomplishments have been few, my blessings have been overwhelming!” This encompasses her incredibly grateful personality.

Sarah is now part of our “Sweet Memories” family at Commonwealth Senior Living at Churchland House. Her daughter continues to be her greatest fan and showers her “mama” with love every day, whether it’s a window visit or FaceTime. There is no doubt she truly feels blessed and grateful for all the love she is given.

Sarah loves anything sweet, especially chocolate! One of her other favorite things is music. As a team, we learned all we could about her favorite songs to develop a Sweet Melodies playlist which includes lots of Motown, resonating with her early memories. She also enjoys the “cleaning” Life Kit, reconnecting Sarah with the structure she encountered in the Navy. She likes to keep everything very organized, always stopping to straighten or pick anything up that is out of place on her strolls.

The CSL at Churchland House team adores Sarah and her family and are so grateful to be a part of their journey.

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