And Here She Is




As residents, staff, Board members, Auxiliary Board members and other supporters gathered outside St. Mary’s Home for Disabled Children this afternoon, a vehicle appeared in the distance.

Ron Herrick and Tom Dvorak from St. Mary’s maintenance department carefully removed the precious cargo from the trailer, then helped artist Georgia Mason unwrap her creation: a mermaid for the children and young adults of SMHDC.

The mermaid was unveiled Saturday at St. Mary’s donor reception off site. Mason then delivered her to St. Mary’s today. The mermaid statue will be permanently installed just outside the front entrance of the building, for residents and visitors to enjoy.

Making Mermaid Magic


Jahmari and Amelia took a field trip today to help make a mermaid. With paintbrushes and rollers — and a little help from Amelia’s mother and staff from St. Mary’s Home for Disabled Children — they dabbed blue paint on the tail of one of Norfolk’s newest mermaid statues, which is going to be displayed at the Home.
“The kids are going to put their magic into it,” said artist Georgia Mason, who is creating the mermaid. She invited St. Mary’s children to come out to her home studio so they could see the mermaid in progress and lend a hand.
What does a mermaid have to do with St. Mary’s Home?
Norfolk is dotted with mermaid statues shaped like the city’s mermaid symbol, which is 10 years old. The city is now celebrating the Year of the Mermaid, which kicked off with a party at St. Mary’s earlier this month, including the reading of a mayoral proclamation honoring the Home. The event also celebrated the release of a new, special anniversary edition of Lisa Suhay‘s children’s book about Norfolk’s mermaids, “There Goes a Mermaid!” Suhay is donating part of the proceeds to the Home and to The Virginian-Pilot’s Joy Fund.

But the children of St. Mary’s didn’t have a mermaid to call their own. Carl Albero, a member of St. Mary’s Board, bid $5,000 at a fundraiser auction earlier this year to get them a mermaid, and one of his granddaughters also helped paint the mermaid today. Mason is using just part of the mermaid money to pay for materials; the rest will go to support the nonprofit Home because Mason is donating her time and talent to the project.

Stay tuned for updates on the mermaid.
WAVY-TV 10 ran a story about the mermaid field trip on its 5:30 p.m. newscast today. If you didn’t happen to catch it, below you can watch our own video of Amelia, Jahmari and helpers working on the mermaid:

Celebrating the Mermaid Book and the Year of the Mermaid

Five years ago, Lisa Suhay told the story of Norfolk’s mermaid statues in her children’s book, “There Goes a Mermaid! A NorFolktale.” But the story didn’t end there, as Norfolk’s mermaid population has continued to grow right up until this officially proclaimed “Year of the Mermaid” — which began Sunday with an event at St. Mary’s Home for Disabled Children.
About 60 residents, family members, staff and friends of the Home gathered in the Atrium to celebrate the release of a special revised edition of Suhay’s book, which includes some of the “new girls in town” and a page all about SMHDC. The special printing honors the fifth anniversary of the original book, the 10th anniversary of the mermaid as Norfolk’s symbol and the upcoming 65th anniversary of St. Mary’s Home.
Suhay read — actually, gave a wonderful performance of — her book and signed copies of it. She is donating part of the book’s proceeds to SMHDC and The Virginian-Pilot’s Joy Fund. “Lisa has been a real friend to St. Mary’s,” CEO William C. Giermak said of Suhay, who also spoke at the Home’s graduation ceremony in May.
Bob Batcher, public relations manager for the City of Norfolk, read a proclamation issued by Norfolk Mayor Paul D. Fraim. The proclamation honors St. Mary’s Home and declares July 2009-2010 to be the “Year of the Mermaid” in Norfolk.
St. Mary’s Home, which cares for children with severe disabilities from Norfolk as well as from throughout Virginia, exemplifies the city’s slogan of “Life. Celebrated Daily,” Batcher said. “Every day there is something here to celebrate,” he said.
Special guest former Miss Norfolk Amanda Batcher, Batcher’s daughter, sang “God Bless America” to open the program and closed out the event with a touching rendition of “Over the Rainbow.”
Also on hand for the event were Debbie Bellucci from The Joy Fund and “Mermaid Mama” Georgia Mason, who has created many of Norfolk’s mermaids and now is working on one for the children of St. Mary’s Home.