The Truth Staff
“It’s an honor for us to be able to recognize you,” said Toledo City Councilman Nick Komives to Billie Johnson, longtime CEO of Area Office on Aging, on Tuesday, June 13 during the start of the weekly City Council meeting when councilmembers took an opportunity to acknowledge the many contributions Johnson has made to area senior citizens and the larger community in general.
The dedication ceremony, organized by Councilwoman Katie Moline, featured an outpouring of tributes by members and recollections of how Johnson’s work in the community has impacted them directly and indirectly. “You are a giant in our community,” said Moline. “This is a testament to your leadership.
Johnson started her tenure at the Area Office on Aging 49 years ago when the agency had four employees. Today the agency has 185 employees, over 2,000 senior volunteers and partners with 185 service providers.
“You’ve been such a positive force for so many people,” said Councilman George Sarantou. “You’ve been helping such an important segment of our society.”
“Your presence in this community makes me proud to raise my children here,” added Councilman Sam Melden. “The quality of your team speaks to who you are and how you lead.”
Johnson received a plaque of recognition from City Council which memorialized some of her notable achievements at the helm of the Area Office on Aging over the past four plus decades.
“Thanks to all my dear friends here on City Council,” said Johnson in recognizing the many praises. “I love the city of Toledo – Toledo has been so good to me and my family. This journey has been long and tough, but we prevailed and we have groomed a lot of younger professionals who want to stay here.”
Johnson will be leaving the Area Office on Aging at the end of June, but she has no plans to step away from public service, particularly the care for the elderly that she has spent her career improving. She said that she will be working on an effort to bring the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) to northwest Ohio.
PACE is a federal government program designed to bring comprehensive medical and social assistance to senior citizens. PACE programs provide services primarily in an adult day health center and are supplemented by in-home and referral services in accordance with needs.
“I’m going to work hard to bring PACE to this community,” said Johnson noting that $50 million has been set aside for the state of Ohio to implement the program.
“Sheroe!” said Councilwoman Cerssandra McPherson. “You have been a sheroe for all the little African American girls out there. Thank you for your commitment and your tenacity.”