Alana Hartman’s Interview
Alana Hartman and I met when she lived in New York City. While there she studied at Hunter and married the Reverend Michael Ellick, who was a minister at Judson Memorial Church.
Here in Portland, Oregon, Alana and I had brunch in Raven and Rose, a restaurant in the Ladd Carriage House. We discussed the eventful year it had been for her and her husband. Michael had been appointed the senior minister at the Portland First Congregational Church and Alana had received her Hunter College MSW They moved from NYC to Portland, found housing and settled into an apartment with their two cats. On Valentine’s Day 2015, Alana had a miscarriage and one of the cats died. She described herself as still being in a state of grief. I thought of the Judson Memorial Church’s sorrow on hearing the news and the decision that we not disturb the mourning, much loved, couple.
At Hunter’s School of Social Work Alana had focused on Aging. Here in Portland, she works as a social worker with the elderly at Providence ElderPlace.
MJR: Why the elderly?
AH: I guess it’s what you’re accustomed to. My mother was a single mom and we lived with my grandparents. I’ve always lived around the elderly and feel comfortable with them. When I was in elementary school and high school, I’d volunteer in nursing homes. My friends thought I was crazy.
MJR: At one time weren’t you interested in dance?
AH: I attended Cincinnati’s High School of the Performing Arts. I focused on ballet.
MJR: You didn’t continue?
AH: By the time I was at Loyola in Chicago, I was burned out. I studied sociology and became interested in community organizing.
MJR: Didn’t you and Mellnick (Michael Ellick’s nickname) meet in Chicago?
AH: We met at an IAF national community organizing training between my junior and senior year.
AH: Industrial Areas Foundation is a n etwork of local faith and community-based organizations. And we met over community organizations.
MJR: Love at first sight?
AH: Pretty much. (said with a pleased smile) In Portland we lived briefly at Peace House.
MJR: It’s a commune?
AH: It’s a community. Michael and I are very excited about forming Peace House 2 which we’re moving into in August. We’re a mix of young, middle-aged and elderly.
This is a link to the 18th Avenue Peace House: 18thavepeacehouse.org/
MJR: As an older person, I’m delighted you’re interested in our age group.
AH: It bothers me that in our society you are your work. What happens after you’re no longer a banker or bricklayer?
MJR: In the Protestant Cemetery in Rome, the tombstones for the Brits had their rank and the tombstones for the Americans had their professions.
AH: One’s a class based society and we’re an industrial based society.
We concentrated on our coffee and bloody mary.
AH: The elderly often die alone.Why should the end of life be a punishment instead of part of the journey we all share?
MJR: What’s it like being a minister’s wife? I know Michael is the lodestone but you are too.
AH: A Church is a 24/7 job.You have to define your own personality and be yourself. You have to establish boundaries for your own peace of mind.
Former President Jimmy Carter, age 90, was in Portland to sign his latest book, A Full Life. I think Alana is an “old soul” and one who is leading her own full and fulfilling life.