Woodford County Supporter Spotlight: Lisa Johnson
As we learn more about Woodford County, today we are excited to feature Lisa Johnson!
In 2011, Lisa founded Mentors & Meals - a nonprofit that provides mentoring services and healthy meals to middle school students after school. Lisa has taken giant strides to improve the academic success and achievement of several students in Woodford County. Stay tuned later this week as we go more into detail about Mentors & Meals.
Let’s learn more about Lisa in our question and answer session below!
What is your role with Mentors & Meals?
I am the Founder and the Executive Director of Mentors & Meals. I actually didn’t come from an education background. I spent 24 years in the pharmaceutical industry before taking an early retirement. This is what I decided to do with the second part of my life!
What’s a normal day like for you?
In the morning I usually answer emails and write grant proposals. Before the Coronavirus, we would gather with the kids from 3:30 to 5:30 and provide mentoring services along with a healthy meal. We shifted our model to provide virtual mentoring and delivered meals from March 13th to September 30th of this year. Starting in October, we’ve been able to start meeting again in-person, but at a limited capacity.
What made you realize you had a passion for this field of work?
I’m passionate about education and about feeding people, and these passions come from my parents. My father taught me about the importance of education and still teaches at Carnegie Mellon - at the age of 89. My mother is Italian and she taught me how to cook. Even though Woodford County is among the wealthiest counties in the state, the food insecurity rate among students is really high. That was a need that needed to be met, and that’s one of the things we do here.
What’s your favorite part about working with Mentors & Meals?
I really love being with the kids, both the middle schoolers and the high school or college mentors. I just like being around young people - it keeps me on my toes. We also have a lot of volunteers from the UWBG Trailblazers who are awesome as well. I guess I just like being with people who care about each other.
What about working with Mentors & Meals inspires you?
It’s the little things, like when a student comes in and wants to show me that they got a good grade. I love how they are excited and want to share their accomplishments with somebody.
What do you like to do in your free time?
My husband and I do a lot of road biking. I also like to garden (I have a flower garden and an herb garden) and I like to cook.
How would you describe yourself?
I would describe myself as candid, creative and community-focused.
Are you an early bird or night owl?
If you could time travel, would you go back in time or to the future? What would you do?
I wouldn’t want to go back in time because I know there was a lot of hardship. I’d want to go to the future because I want to see where we’re going in space and what we’re going to do and what cures we are going to have for things.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
I’d like to be able to read people’s minds. That way I’d be able to better understand why a kid isn’t doing well in school.
Do you prefer the lake or the beach?
Definitely the beach.
Thank you for your amazing work with the children of Woodford County, Lisa! We appreciate everything you and everybody at Mentors & Meals are doing for our community.
Be sure to check our blog Friday to hear more about how Lisa and Mentors & Meals partners with United Way of the Bluegrass!