Positively KELOLAND

Sanford Volunteer Celebrates 103rd Birthday

Sioux Falls, S.D. - What would you do if you lived to be 100 years old? How about 103?

That's the big number Berneice Johnson is celebrating, while on the job Wednesday. That's right. She still works!

We get to hear from the woman who takes care of others, while gliding through her golden years. 

Berneice Johnson is kind and gentle. Once you meet her, you'll also find out she's pretty funny!

"I watch you on TV a lot," said Johnson. 
Sammi Bjelland: You do? 
"I do. I don't even criticize your grammar," said Berneice. 

Berneice celebrated her birthday with family and coworkers Wednesday, just down the hall from where she works in the ICU waiting room at Sanford. She fills the dessert tray, answers the phone, and helps guests get answers.

But those things are far from her most important role.

"Somebody that's having a really difficult time and they're all by themselves, sometimes they want to talk to you. You try to be a big help, you know? Show all the empathy and sympathy you can possibly get," said Johnson. 

Berneice spent 42 years teaching in northwest Iowa, and now more than 30 volunteering.

Last year, she celebrated her birthday at home after she broke her hip and didn't think she'd walk again, let alone keep working. Thankfully, she was wrong.

"We had one family that even brought flowers back to the waiting room because her empathy and love that she shared with them," said Nona Bixler, Sanford Director of Volunteers. 

Berneice isn't positive, but she thinks good genes and staying active might be the keys to her longevity.

However, she is certain about the secret to a happy life.

"I would say find something that you like to do and then do it to the very best of your ability. I do. If you're going to do it, do it well," said Berneice.

Berniece walks a mile a day, doesn't have hearing aids, and still lives alone. Her coworkers say she's an amazing person to know.


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