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Eventide Moorhead Senior Living Assistant Meriam Farok ‘just has that special touch’

Meriam has worked at Eventide since 2002 when she started as a volunteer. A few months later, she joined the team full-time.

There are two types of people in this world: the kind who will dust a curio cabinet and the kind who wouldn’t let dust collect in the first place.

Meriam Farok is the latter.

A meticulous housekeeper and enthusiastic friend of all residents and staff who call Eventide Moorhead home, Meriam is simply one of those people who makes life better.

“I like to do everything. Scrubbing, washing, dusting,” she said. “There is satisfaction in keeping the community clean and safe, and I like talking to the residents and learning about their lives.”

Meriam has been a part of the Eventide Moorhead team since December 4, 2002, where she volunteered in the care center’s coffee shop. On June 11, 2003, she accepted a paid, full-time position as a senior living assistant in housekeeping and hasn’t looked back.

“My first job here was focused on serving the residents’ meals and snacks, but I wanted to be a permanent worker,” she said. 

As a housekeeper, Meriam cleans residents’ private apartments on a weekly schedule she works out with her supervisor and teammates. She’s also responsible for keeping common areas clean, vacuuming hallways and elevators, and wiping down railings and door handles.

“I visit apartments regularly,” Meriam said. “One man who lives here cleans so well that I hardly have to do anything, while another might take me a little more time.”

Mostly, though, it’s not so much about the cleaning as it is chatting with the residents.

“They’re my friends, and when I go visit them to clean, I get to know them and all their life stories. I really am a very social person,” Meriam said. “But if there’s downtime, I’ll be out in the halls cleaning whatever needs to be done.”

Meriam and her husband Abdulla speak about their experiences as Kurdish Americans. The couple enjoys sharing their cultural heritage with residents and staff at Eventide and elsewhere. 

‘Trust each other, work as a team, get the work done’

Meriam believes three things lead to a happy work life: “Trust each other, work as a team and get the work done,” she said. 

They’re tenets she’s relied on since moving to the United States in the late ’90s. 

Meriam grew up in Kurdistan, a region of northern Iraq and home to the Kurdish Indo-European ethnic group. Surrounding countries have been in longstanding conflict over the oil-rich land, and in the 1990s, Meriam and her young family found themselves fleeing their home and joining a Kurdish refugee camp in Turkey for two years.

During the conflict, Meriam’s husband, Abdulla Farok, and his father were among those severely injured while attempting to flee a chemical attack. 

“We escaped the mountains by walking,” Meriam recalled. “My husband carried his father on his back. Many people died and many were injured.”

Soon after, two of her five children, a son, 8, and daughter, 10, tragically died in the camp. 

“We survived,” Meriam said. 

The family sought refuge in the United States and moved to the Fargo-Moorhead area in 1998. She quickly made friends in the community and easily worked her way into the hearts of Eventide residents.

“I’m so thankful for the U.S. For moving us here. Everything in Kurdistan that happened, it made me stronger,” Meriam said. “And when I work at Eventide, it makes me so happy because I’m treated very well.”

Known for her contagious smile and infectious positivity, many Eventide residents lean on Meriam for a dose of optimism when they’re having a bad day.

“Meriam just has that special touch,” Eventide Senior Living Communities Moorhead Executive Director Joycelin Connelly said. “She’s a difference maker for our residents because she has such a strong sense of trust and team, and her personal story is a powerful reminder that life is precious.” 

Meriam gives an Eventide resident a fist bump while she walks down the hall at Eventide at the Linden in Moorhead. 

Getting older, but not slowing down

There’s no sugar-coating the hardships she and her family experienced, but Meriam sees her history as something that shouldn’t be forgotten.

Each year at The Linden, Meriam and Abdulla share their story with residents and staff. Merian also attributes her happy work life to many coworkers and mentors she’s had over the years.

“I’ve had many mentors that have become very good friends, and that’s where I learned how to trust, work as a team and get the work done,” Meriam said. “They make this place so good for me and it is a homeland.”

Today, Meriam and Abdulla have 15 grandchildren and admits she and her husband are “slowing down a bit,” though neither has near plans to retire. She’s had a chance to visit Kurdistan several times throughout the years, too, never forgetting her past but always looking to the future.

“We’re getting old!” she said. “But I still like my work so much, and I like all the activities with my husband.”  

Meriam said she and Abdulla aren’t as active in the local Kurdish community as they once were, but she still enjoys baking Kurdish-style bread and hosting her talks at The Linden.  But mostly, Meriam finds great accomplishment in the work she does at Eventide—and all the friends she’s made along the way.

“If I see something that needs to get done, I do it. I don’t wait for them to call me,” Meriam said. “And talking to everyone. That’s the best. They’re my family, too.”

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