Finding his place at Irvington Village


Steve and Dr. North
Steve and Dr. North joke around in the courtyard at Providence in Irvington Village.
Steve Merritt is a longtime Oregonian. He grew up in Astoria with his dad, who served in the Coast Guard; his mom, who worked for the city; and his two brothers. He played football, wrestled in high school and marched all over the state as part of a drum and bugle corps.

Steve enjoys going back to his high school for reunions. “They treated me like a regular student,” he says, “and not like a special education student.”

For most of his adult life, Steve has lived and worked in Portland. He was living at Hollywood East apartments when he got sick.

“I couldn’t move my legs. I couldn’t get up and go to the bathroom,” he candidly explains.

Steve had to go to the hospital, followed by two weeks at a nursing care center in northeast Portland to learn to walk again. The staff asked him if he would consider assisted living and told him about Providence ElderPlace.

After he met an intake and enrollment specialist from ElderPlace, it took two weeks for Steve to make up his mind, but he will quickly tell you he was “real happy when I moved.”

He’s also quick to tell you about things at ElderPlace that make him happy. “I like Dr. (Chester) North; he’s a joker,” Steve chuckles. “I like to kid around with him.”

As well, he likes that he has made new friends at Irvington Village, including Louise, Betty and Brooke, the facility’s unofficial greeters, and a number of staff members. He’s especially happy that the city bus stops just outside Irvington Village; it allows him to visit his old friends at Hollywood East.

Steve is grateful to be enrolled in a number of programs at Irvington Village that help treat his severe arthritis. He has regular physical therapy workouts, takes part in a walking group that meets every Friday and joins in a swim exercise program at Providence Portland Medical Center every Tuesday. He also doesn’t hesitate to show off his special walking shoes for people with diabetes.

Steve engages in these activities willingly, hoping to soon be strong enough to rejoin his pals at the Special Olympics. Asked which events are his favorite, Steve quickly ticks off volleyball, swimming, baseball, soccer…and then laughs, realizing it would be easier to list which ones he doesn’t like.


Providence ElderPlace is a comprehensive care program that offers health, housing, social service and care coordination solutions to older adults and peace of mind to their families.


Contact us at 503-215-6556 for more information, or visit our website at