BALTIMORE — It's easy to see and feel the love for 94-year-old Helena Jordan Johnson as she sits with two of her three daughters in her home in West Baltimore, surrounded by family photos and memories.
"She is an Everyday Hero to us, always has been," said her daughter Jamie Johnson.
"She’s loved by a lot of people," said her daughter Toni Johnson-Conner.
And for all the love she receives, Johnson gives it back by finding ways to make a difference in the city where she was born and grew up and also raised her three children with her late husband of 46 years.
She is an active alumna of Morgan State University, a graduate of the Class of 1950. She served as the chair of her class, helping to organize fundraisers for the school. She said much of the money her class raises goes to cover tuition costs for students. Johnson said one of the largest fundraisers her class did was for their 65th anniversary and they raised more than $200,000.
"People have to come behind us. I know what a financial struggle it was for my parents to send me to Morgan," she said.
"[Kids] finish school and hang out in the street, get in trouble. If I can help somebody get off the street it would be wonderful."
Another place you'll often find Johnson is at her church, St. Peter Claver-St. Pius V. She is a member of their senior group "The Frolicking Shining Stars" and she enjoys putting together events and fundraisers for the church.
When the pandemic hit last year and the church couldn't hold any in-person activities, Johnson came up with a very unique fundraiser while cleaning her house.
"While I was polishing my door knobs one day, [I said] there’s one, and there’s one and there’s one. Oh, maybe we can count our door knobs. So we said for every door in your house, donate a dollar. We raised $5,026 counting doors."
"You didn’t have to get a new dress, you didn’t have to feed anybody, you didn’t have to burn gas, just count your doors and send me a dollar," she said with a laugh.
It was a simple idea with big results and for those who know Johnson say that is just how she operates.
Whether it was sewing prom dresses for the teens in the neighborhood, having her kids' friends over for dinner or raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for college students, whatever she does, Johnson's friends and family said she jumps in with both feet.
"She makes you want to be a part of whatever it is that she’s doing," said Tamathia Flowers, a relative of Johnson's.
"What I love about Helena is that everything she does, whether she understands it or not, is building community with everything that she does," Flowers said. "Helena’s very loving, she’s very warm, she’s very approachable."
Johnson's outlook on giving back makes you realize that no matter how old a person is, it's never too late to get up and start making a difference.
"You see something that needs to be done. You think I can do that, so you just jump in and do it."