||Mercy has never been shy about standing up for her community. Here, alongside her husband John, at Lowell CHC's African Community Celebration.
Growing up in Kenya, Mercy never could have imagined a career at Lowell CHC.
We couldn't imagine this place without her.
Community has always been central to Mercy's life. Little did she know building that community would happen on the other side of the world. Growing up in Kenya, life in the US was the furthest thing from her mind.
One of 5 siblings, Mercy's talent showed early on, landing her a coveted spot in a selective high school in Nairobi, far from the rest of her family. Mercy worked hard, imagining a future in business, perhaps hotel management.
"In Kenya, you don't get a career - you get a job," Mercy explains. After finishing her studies, she accepted a job at a local bank. That's where fate (and love) stepped in, in the form of a handsome young man named John, who would later become her husband. When John had the opportunity to study in the US, the couple ended up in Southern New Hampshire. Talk about culture shock!
Not one to
ever sit on the sidelines, Mercy quickly set about getting her Bachelor's Degree, and then her MBA, both from Fitchburg State University. Although busy,
life in the suburbs left Mercy searching for the sense of community she'd left behind in Kenya.
In 2002, when her daughter Sydney was still an infant, Mercy saw a listing for a job at the African Assistance Center in Lowell, helping connect recent immigrants with resources. "I couldn't believe this was a job," she says with her trademark laugh. It was right up her alley.
Visiting Lowell for the interview was an eye opener: "I found a whole new world I didn't know existed."
Not surprisingly, Mercy got the job.
"I just loved this work," she remembers. "It felt like what I was meant to do. And I really got to know this community."
Fast forward several years and, looking to continue her work with newcomers to the City, Mercy accepted a job as a Community Health Worker here at Lowell CHC.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
Over the years, Mercy has grown Lowell CHC's Outreach & Health Promotion Department from 3 people to close to 20, including community health workers, outreach educators, and medical interpreters, many of whom are certified through an on-site training program she helped create. Today, Mercy also manages our Community Health Education Center (CHEC), which each year trains hundreds of medical interpreters and community health workers from across the region.
"I love seeing people thrive - one small, positive change at a time. The Health Center is so much more than a doctor's office. It's a place where people can feel cared for and seen. Everyone deserves that."
Her work impacts thousands in Greater Lowell. But for Mercy, it all comes down to the individual person -- and each opportunity to care for the community she has come to love with all her heart.
"At the Health Center, I'm in my zone.
We are one happy and loving family away from home. My team inspires me each day. That makes me so proud. "
We are certainly glad that Mercy has found her zone at Lowell CHC. Her energy, humility, and compassion - not to mention her contagious smile - inspire our entire community.