‘Manicures with Shelly’ celebrates a decade at Montgomery Gardens

Shelly Kelly became a professional nail technician in 1990 and after being a stay at home mom she decided to take her services to the Montgomery Gardens to give the residents manicures. It's been 10 years now that she has been a volunteer. (Submitted photo)

Staff Writer

Shelly Kelly began playing bingo at the Montgomery Gardens Senior Living facility with her Sunday school group from First United Methodist Church, and suddenly decided to visit every other week to make the ladies' nails look pretty.

Ten years have gone by since Kelly volunteered and Montgomery Gardens has reserved two Tuesday's a month for “Manicures with Shelly" at 9:30 a.m.

"It's like having a whole bunch of different grandmothers," Kelly said.

Kelly became a professional nail technician in 1990 and began to stay at home with her six-month-old son Douglas in 2001.

Douglas is now 18 years old and Kelly’s twin daughters Jillian and Madeline are 16.

She has been married to her husband Davis for 24 years.

Manicures with Shelly doesn't begin until 9:30 a.m., but eager residents are lined up in a waiting area at 8:30 a.m. to secure an appointment with Kelly.

"They lined up ready to go," resident Marjorie Davis said.

Montgomery Gardens Lifestyle Coordinator Candy Tranum said Kelly will not leave until everyone has their manicure.

"She's not just breezing in and out of here or anything," Tranum said and mentioned that Kelly will also bring her a drink from Sonic each time she comes.

Kelly has an array of colors for the ladies to choose from.

"Flirt Alert," a dark-fleshed pink that gives her hands a pop of color, is Davis' signature color when Kelly does her nails.

Christmas was the only time she switched them up for red.

"Everybody likes her, I have not heard one person make an off comment even, everything has been great with her," Davis said.

Davis often tells the story about a trip to the emergency room that showered her with compliments and stares at her nail polish.

"'What color is that? What color is that?," staff asked her.

"I get out of the emergency room and going up to the third floor…'Oh I love the color of your fingernails,'" Davis said. "Then I tried to check out and it was the same thing."

The residents adore Kelly. They laugh and have a good time.

"It means a lot to me. First of all I love talking to them about the times in their past and the lives that they've had, and they give lots of good wisdom," Kelly said.

On the other hand, she doesn't only cater to the residents that make it to Manicures With Shelly.

"If someone gets sick or down, she goes to see if they want their nails done and things like that," Tranum said. "She's just that kind of person."

Arlene Marler has only been a resident for six months and is a loyal client of Kelly's.

"She does a beautiful job and she's so sweet, she's got such a great personality," Marler said. "It stays on for about two weeks very nicely."

Two-year resident Mae Dell Templeton is also a regular who said she thoroughly enjoys getting a manicure every two weeks.

"She really gets to know all of them and their family," Tranum said. "And they're the same with her. They ask about her children, they want to know what's going on because they know the girls are in the band and play ball and then her son played football so they keep up."

Volunteers like Kelly are rare, according to Tranum.

"I feel bad because Candy makes such a big deal about me coming and being so thankful for me doing it that I feel bad because I enjoy it as much as they do and I love it," Kelly said. "I can't imagine not doing it."

Kelly has made it a point to stick around and continue to be the residents' manicurist.

She turns down compensation each time and doesn't expect the small tokens of the Montgomery Gardens' appreciation that she's often given.

"I receive way more than any kind of monetary value just by being with them and spending time with them and knowing that I'm doing something that makes them happy," she said. "I know that sounds crazy but I love it. I've never dreaded going every two weeks because I always look forward to it."