Ninety-three-year-old woman special to Open Door

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 21, 2003

For the past 20 years, a friendly, familiar face has greeted students and staff at the Lawrence County Open Door School.

Ask the people who depend on Bertha Dixon and they will tell you, they don't know what they would do without her.

"The kids beg for Grandma," teacher Kathy Conner said. "She is so kind to them and so patient -they love her. She's wonderful with them and she has a real knack for working with them."

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The kids are quick to agree. "I like Grandma," Ashley Harding said. " She's kind and respectful. Everyone likes here."

Dixon gladly accepts the nickname "Grandma" but she shrugs off the praise. She just likes doing what she does.

"Whatever the teachers need done, I'm happy to do," Dixon said.

She estimates that in the last 20 years, she has made friends children them are special in her eyes.

"I just like giving to the children. That's what I like best. We're a big happy family here."

Twenty years is a long time for any volunteer, but consider that Bertha was retired before she ever decided to offer her assistance. She is 93 years old. Her helping hand comes compliments of the Lawrence County Foster Grandparents Program, which pairs willing senior citizens with agencies in need of help.

"The kids look up to her," Conner said. "She works with them one on one and they absolutely love it. She takes attendance each morning and has the (lunch) money down pat. When she isn't here, it takes us 20 minutes to do what Grandma does in 10. Plus, I think it's good for Grandma, too."

Dixon, who once worked at Artwill Dress Shop and later at Wilson's Sporting Goods, comes to school every day at 8:30 a.m. and works until 12:30 p.m.

"I live alone, so it gets me out of the house," Dixon said. "I think if people need something to occupy their time, then they should consider volunteering. The best thing about volunteering is that you get to give something of yourself, and if you give of yourself, it feels good."