Herald Neighbors

Former social worker gives back to community


A Baldwin woman who works in Freeport has dedicated nearly 30 years of her life in service to others, is continuing her lifelong efforts of community service and giving back.

After retiring with over thirty years experience in the field of social work; she became a chaplain for Nassau County and after serving at a nursing home in Freeport, she found that the importance of care and compassion needs to be shared now more than ever.

Emma Waters Mereday, worked for 25 years as a social worker for Nassau University Medical Center and Nassau County Juvenile Detention Center. It was there that she found she could truly make a difference in the lives of other people.

She retired from Social Work in 1999, and soon realized she couldn’t simply spend her days relaxing at home.

“I’ve had a good life. I’ve traveled all over the world, I’ve had a wonderful job that I worked in… I’m in a stage of my life now where I want to not just sit home and watch television,” said Mereday. “When you move into different areas of your life, you should have something that you would like to do, or how you would like to help someone.”

She decided to follow her true calling…helping people. In 2005, she became a Nassau County-certified chaplain, and she wanted to work with senior citizens, so she spent some time searching for a nursing home that would be a good fit for her to work with.

After trying out several local nursing homes, she finally decided to settle on the South Shore Rehabilitation and Nursing Home facility in Freeport.

“The nature of her work is literally to be there for people,” said Gilad Diamond, administrator for the Nursing Center.

“She’s been a chaplain here for just about a year,” said Diamond, who praised her for her dedication and personal touch when interacting with the patients. “She’ll talk to them and give up her own time for nothing more than just the satisfaction of helping others.”

“Anything she does, she does wholeheartedly and with love and kindness,” said Meta Mereday, Emma daughter. “Her life has inspired and really served as the foundation for my life. To serve others and just being a light in dark places.”

“Being a social worker for 25 years, I know how people should be treated — and this nursing home epitomized all of the things that I liked working in,” said Mereday. Through her years of experience, she understands what it requires for a person to help others, whether providing entertainment, prayer, or just comforting conversation.

“In our facility, she sort of builds a relationship with some of our residents who don’t per say have that much support or that much family,” said Diamond.

“She’s able to create that personal bond with them, and it gives them another reason to look forward to something.” He explained that the seniors in the nursing home look forward to her weekly visits “It puts a smile on a bunch of their faces when she comes in. She just walks around and sees how everyone is doing, she’s really an amazing person.”