Jefferson Award Winner, May 2018: Heather Johnson

MADISON (WKOW) — At 80 years old, Madison’s Heather Johnson is not slowing down. 

She’s making sure other seniors can take advantage of the beautiful city.

Riding the bus wasn’t always possible for Molly Culver.

"I used to take it all the time, but then they changed the schedules and I got confused, so I didn’t take it anymore," she said.

That’s where Heather came in. "I believe there was a notice in our church bulletin, saying they wanted someone to teach people to ride the bus."

So four years ago, Heather started volunteering for the Bus Buddy program through RSVP, or the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program of Dane County.

"It just gives you a feeling of being part of the community and having a stake in it," she said.

Heather has spent more than 900 hours volunteering, helping seniors like Molly and people with disabilities get to appointments, navigate around the city or go on group trips.

"You’re not alone, trying to figure it out," said Molly. "You’ve got someone who knows how and they give you confidence to go ahead and try."

"It’s given them the freedom to go someplace they wanted to go, just like I have the freedom to go out and do things that I want to do," said Heather.

But that’s not all she does through RSVP. Heather started in 2013 as a tutor for the Literacy Network and she volunteers at the St. Vincent de Paul food pantry once a week.

"There is so much talent in people who are retired," said Heather. "They’ve been doing something valuable all their life. So, RSVP can give these people a place to use their talents, a place to use their time and build new friendships that they didn’t think they had."

For her new friends like Molly, Heather’s help is only a phone call away.

"She’s just someone you can trust and believe in and that’s there for you."

"I have a big family in Madison, because I have friends in all these different programs that I’m in," said Heather. "I just have a ball doing this!"

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