Longtime volunteer celebrates special day

Bernadette Johnson or Grandma Bernadette as she is known by the staff and students at William Family Support Center, was honored at the center Thursday with a surprise 95th birthday party. Johnson is a part of the Foster Grandparent program and has been a Foster Grandparent since 1999 all at the center.

Johnson said she didn't know anything about the party and was surprised. A big surprise to her was a handmade quilt by the students and staff. She said she loves the quilt. "I will cherish it for ages," she said. "This is really something."

Johnson spends her day playing with the children, who think she is special. "The children love her," said Patty Vashell, team leader at the center. Vashell has known Johnson for several years. "She used to work with me in the classroom," Vashell said. "She just continues to work."

Julie McNeill, Foster Grandparent program manager, presented Johnson a plaque for her dedication to the program and William Family Support Center. McNeill said she was proud to present the plaque to Johnson for 18 years and counting. "I am proud to have the opportunity of presenting the plaque to her (Grandma)." Margaret McGeehon, Foster Grandparent volunteer coordinator, presented here with flowers. Johnson also was honored with a birthday cake.

Darin Preis, executive director of Central Missouri Community Action, was also present for the party. 'This is the best kind of thing to celebrate," he said. "I am happy to be here."

Also attending were Don Decker, a member of the William Family Support Center Board, and Tad Dobyns, local organizer for Central Missouri Community Action, staff members and the students.