The spirit, compassion, and empowerment of "doing good" always begin with the individual. If you know Elizabeth Merriman (and, as per full disclosure, I do), chances are you've received a gift of her home-baked goods or some random good deed.
Oh, and another thing: she always smiles.
Born in Grand Rapids, Liz Strong (the "Merriman" came later) grew up in Muskegon. Her family struggled to make ends meet.
"When I was growing up, my sisters and I had everything that we concretely needed, but there were no luxuries," she says.
Liz worked to help pay the family's bills and learned at a very young age how to fend for herself and act as an independent adult. In 2000, she spent a year in the Philippines. During her time there, her outlook on life changed drastically.
"I was surrounded by the exceptionally poor and downtrodden," she says. "I saw people struggling everywhere. And I noticed that despite their adversity, they were the kindest, most hospitable people."
"Lift as you climb" became her mantra.
"Appreciate what you have, and as you reach your goals, you should try to lift others up," she says. "If everybody did that, we would all be much better off. We would be a community -- not individuals competing against each other, but a community of individuals working together."
While in the Philippines, Liz lost an extreme amount of weight, and the pounds kept coming off after she returned home. She began studying welding and planned to become an underwater welder.
Then, in 2003, the extreme weight loss triggered stroke-like symptoms, and she was diagnosed with an eating disorder. The welding dream evaporated. Three months of rehab helped her walk and regain the use of her right hand.
Liz then involved herself in the film industry, attended Compass College of Cinematic Arts
, and now has her own production company, Happy Hat, LLC. She and her husband, Scott Merriman, have been married five years.
"If I have it in my power to help someone who needs it, I will do what I can," says Liz. "I am not naïve to hardships and bad things in life, but I would rather go through life with a smile instead of a frown."
- Learn about Compass College of Cinematic Arts
- Check out Happy Hat, LLC's Facebook page
- Visit Liz's Linkedin page
Source: Elizabeth Merriman
Writer: Victoria Mullen, Do Good Editor
Photos: Courtesy of Elizabeth Merriman