Published on June 21, 2016

Mercy LIFE Valley View Resident Celebrates Milestone Birthday

Dora LaSalaPhiladelphia, Pa. (June 21, 2016)—She escaped the rise of Nazi power in Poland. She survived a severe childhood illness that robbed her of her hearing. She conquered the challenges associated with living as a Deaf woman in the early 20th century. These are just three of the experiences that shaped the first century in the life of Mercy LIFE Valley View resident Dora LaSala. Joined by family and friends, LaSala celebrated her amazing life (and look to the next hundred) in a birthday celebration on Saturday, June 18 at Mercy LIFE Valley View.

“Dora spreads tremendous positive energy among everyone she meets,” said Molly Crumley, Director of Operations, Mercy LIFE Valley View. “We couldn’t wait to celebrate her birthday with 100 of her favorite flowers, a collection of well wishes from 100 friends and family, and, of course, coloring books—her favorite. Dora was way ahead of the adult coloring craze.”

Dora LaSalaA Polish immigrant, LaSala lost her hearing at the age of 5 after a high fever caused by the mumps and measles ravaged her body. Almost unthinkable today, the life-altering event happened more than 40 years before the first measles vaccine was licensed.

Most of LaSala’s family immigrated to the New York area in the 1920s, but two of her seven siblings stayed behind. Those two sisters tragically lost their lives to the Nazis.

Dora lived most of her life in Brooklyn, N.Y., working in her brother’s Manhattan leather goods shop, manufacturing purses. She married James V. LaSala Sr., who also was deaf, and the two shared 74 years together before he passed in 2014.

Dora and kids“You can’t imagine what it was like to live as a deaf person in the first half of the 20th century,” said Jim LaSala, one of Dora and James’ three children. “Today, a deaf individual can win on Dancing with the Stars, but my mom and dad were of the age where they couldn’t even watch television or a movie without an interpreter.”

“My parents struggled for the first half of their lives, until my father found good work as a printer for the New York Post,” Jim said. “When my parents eventually started slowing down, we were concerned with where we could find a loving, caring environment that would understand the unique needs of the deaf. We found it with Mercy LIFE Valley View. It was one of the best moves of our lives.”

Dora LaSalaMercy LIFE Valley View provides dual services—housing and the Mercy LIFE Adult Day Center—and is the first PACE (Program for All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly) program in the United States to provide services to a community specifically comprising deaf seniors.

“Mercy LIFE cherishes each and every resident. Our staff does everything they can each day to meet their medical, physical and spiritual needs,” said Crumley. “Celebrations build community; they offer residents, their families and the Mercy LIFE colleagues a joyful opportunity to rejoice together.”

Dora’s Story

Dora's story was featured at The Catholic Health Association’s annual assembly. You can watch the video below: