Winsted woman enjoys time spent with St. Mary’s seniors

September 1, 2008

By Linda Scherer
Staff Writer

Did you know that the teddy bear was invented in 1902 and named after the 26th President of the United States, Teddy Roosevelt?

The stuffed bear craze started after a cartoon appeared in the Washington Post showing Roosevelt refusing to shoot a small bear cub.

St. Mary’s Care Center residents recently learned all about the history of the teddy bear from Berdine Johnson of Winsted Aug. 18, during one of her “Did you know?” presentations.

Johnson has become a well-known volunteer at St. Mary’s where she has been helping out in numerous ways over the last four years.

She began making visits to the care center when one of her very good friends, Leocadia (Codie) Barrett, moved to St. Mary’s in 2004, and she helped as a volunteer at various times, when needed.

When her friend died last fall, Johnson wanted to continue to help at St. Mary’s. To begin with, she just began helping out with planned activities at the care center.

“I wasn’t doing anything with my life. My kids were all grown up and gone and I thought, ‘What am I doing to help anybody else out?’” Johnson said.

She has found the St. Mary’s residents gateful for everything she has done, which has made Johnson want to do even more for them.

She has had the seniors doing musical chairs around a May-pole, had young dancers perform, and supervised a variety of games with prizes for the winners.

Every other week there is a baking demonstration where the residents get to participate, and for various holidays like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Christmas, Johnson likes to help with the planning of the various events, coming up with give-away gifts through her thrifty shopping excursions.

This year she began “Did you know?” activities which she has been having a lot of fun with.

Every other week, Johnson comes up with a theme for an activity to get the residents involved. Some of the presentations she has made have been on bees (honey), Jello, weddings, and old hats.

“My coming to St. Mary’s makes me happier than it makes them (seniors),” Johnson said.

“There are lots and lots of people who volunteer here and some of them have been here way longer than me,” Johnson said. “I bet most nursing homes don’t have as many volunteers as this nursing home does.”

Michele Muller, therapeutic recreation manager, is very appreciative of Johnson’s time.

“She is a wonderful addition to our family of volunteers. She gives of herself and enjoys her time with the residents as they enjoy her,” Muller said.

Muller also mentioned the other volunteers who St. Mary’s has been very lucky to have.

“At this time, we have over 60 volunteers who give their time anywhere from two hours to five hours a week, depending on their interest and time.”

“St. Mary’s Care Center residents, families, and employees benefit greatly from each hour a volunteer spends here,” Muller said.

Johnsons are originally from South Dakota

Johnson is married to Arden Johnson, and they live in Winsted. They have four children, 10 grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.

• Rick is married to Diane and they live in the Sacramento area. They have three children: Jennifer, Jeff and Joel.

• Mark and his wife Becky are pastors in Jubilee Worship Center in St. Cloud. They have three children Kristy, Matthew, and Katie.

• Bryan Johnson and his wife Sheri have two children: Jade and Bo.

• Pam was their youngest daughter who died in 1979. She was married to Rev. Alan Jones, and they have two daughters Brittany and Kayla.

The Johnsons moved to Winsted about 33 years ago, but are originally from South Dakota.

Berdine is a member of the Assembly of God Church in Cokato where she also volunteers, helping with two women’s lunches a year, one in the spring and one at Christmastime.

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