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A Portrait of Kittay Tenant Marion Armstrong
Marion Armstrong is delighted to call Kittay House Senior Apartments home. For 25 years, this Army Veteran received medical services from VA hospitals in the region. At Kittay, she continues to receive Veteran’s medical services at the James J. Peters VA Hospital, located directly across the street from Kittay
House on Webb Avenue.
Marion joined the U.S. Army in 1955 and was transferred to Fort Sam Houston, Texas for medical training after completing basic training in Alabama. Even while she was an elementary school student, Marion valued education and understood its importance. Though she often experienced discrimination because of her race and felt “pushed aside” because she was a girl in a male-dominated society, she stood determined to reach her goals.
“Serving in the military boosted my self-esteem, and gave me confidence, especially because I was treated as an equal,” she recalls.
She served as an army nurse in Orléans, France where she worked in American schools helping children of GIs. While on leave, she took advantage of being stationed in Europe by traveling to ten other countries.
Upon her return from overseas and military retirement, Marion re-entered the civilian world. She built upon her past experiences, which included a groundbreaking position at Macy’s Herald Square. She was promoted and trained as Macy’s first African-American corsetiere with the privilege of working on the main floor – a sharp contrast to working in the basement where the Black employees were typically relegated.
After the Army, she worked as a New York City public health assistant and an investigator for welfare fraud at the Bureau for Child Welfare. She then resumed her nursing career in Brooklyn and Queens. Marion lived in Queens for many years. But as she aged, it became harder for her to keep up with her daily chores.
Her daughter, Karen, said “It was so wonderful that I was able to find a place like Kittay and so exciting to discover the special benefit because Mom was a veteran!” (Kittay offers ALL veterans a $400 credit each month for the first three months rent.) “Mom and I made our first visit to Kittay on a Saturday and by Monday, she was moved in.”
Her daughter confidently shares, “I feel safe knowing my Mom is here at Kittay. The staff has become like family, and it’s been a great transition.”