Mary Payne

A tragic loss in Mary Payne’s life turned into a bright light for her future. In 2003, her mother passed away while in hospice care. During this difficult time, Payne spoke to an employee about ways she could provide care to others during their most desperate time. She referred her to PrimeLife Enrichment, an innovative organization devoted to enhancing the quality of life of older adults.

Payne immediately signed up for training to become a Senior Companion. “I just hate to see people be mistreated -- when you get older you can’t take care of yourself as well, so you need to help those people,” she said. Even at the age of 75, nothing slows Payne down. “Mary’s love and desire to comfort and serve others is endless,” said her 100 Heroes nominator Phyllis Mohs. “She’s like the Energizer Bunny – she just keeps giving and giving and giving!”

Over the past eight years, she’s logged 15,572 hours as a Senior Companion to PrimeLife Enrichment’s clients. Payne says that her patients have become like family. “I stay the weekend with them so their wives and children could take a break. I take them shopping, fix meals, clean the house, wash clothes, plan picnics. It means a lot to me. I still hear from their families.”

“She goes the extra mile,” Mohs described. “Clients have never felt more loved, or caregivers more secure in Mary’s loving hands. In addition to hard work, she brings laughter and good times with a sense of humor that adds sunshine to the lives of others who desperately need a lift.”

Payne believes that good things happen to people who do something good for others. In 2002 she had brain surgery and credits her recovery to the help she has given others, “It’s just what I was born to do it; I’ve been doing it all my life really, taking care of somebody. There’s no better joy that I can have in this world than to do something for someone else, and I hope when I get down on my back someone feels the same about me.”