WANT TO GO?
Women of Achievement awards luncheon
WHEN: March 8, noon to 1:30 p.m.
WHERE: Charleston Embassy Suites
TICKETS: $75 (75 percent tax deductible)
CONTACT: YWCA, 304-340-3557 or www.ywcacharleston.org
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Mary Johnson sat at the YWCA Sojourner's Shelter for Homeless Women & Families' dining table daily for nine months as she and her family got back on their feet in a new city.
The New Orleans native now visits the Charleston homeless shelter to prepare southern style meals during the holidays for its residents.
Johnson -- along with six of her 10 children and husband, Ronnie -- moved out of Sojourner's after she won a college scholarship through the group's Education and Job Readiness Center. She earned her associate degree in nursing from the University of Charleston, opened her own home healthcare business and hired her peers at the homeless shelter to work at Caregiver's.
Johnson will receive the Woman of Achievement Empowerment Award from the YWCA this week, which recognizes program clients who have turned their lives around through services, training and counseling offered by the organization. Johnson is the eighth woman to accept the empowerment award since it was first presented in 2006, said Debby Weinstein, YWCA's executive director.
She is one of four women who will be honored Friday at YWCA's 17th annual Women of Achievement luncheon at Embassy Suites.
"How does it feel to be on the other side now? It feels like a big accomplishment," Johnson said last week. "I am so excited and was very surprised [to be honored]."
Weinstein said Johnson embodies what a woman of achievement is because she has "made such a success of her life."
Johnson said she has always been interested in helping others.
At just 16 years old, she started working as a nursing assistant while still in high school.
She moved on to Tulane Medical Hospital in New Orleans seven years later where she worked as a nursing assistant and fulfilled other positions for 14 years.
Johnson participated in special programs offered at the hospital that helped her become a nurse technician, which led her to work in the wound care center, Intensive Care Unit and emergency room.