JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Bernice Jones has the energy of someone half her age and a volunteer spirit to match.
At 86 years old, Jones still leads exercise class at St. Bernards Senior Life Center.
"You've got to keep active," Jones said. "If you don't use your muscles, you lose them. So that's why it's important to take exercises every day."
"One of our exercises is we march 12 counts, 30 times," Linda Minchew, one of the Jones' class participants said. "You can imagine how tired some of us would be and she just keeps going. So a long time ago, we named her the 'Energizer Bunny' and that has stuck today."
Bernice has a long history of volunteering.
She was a "pink lady," a nickname given to volunteers with St. Bernards Auxiliary. Another 16 years was spent as a volunteer for the American Red Cross. She has logged 24 years working for the Senior Life Center, which eventually became St. Bernards Senior Life Center. All of that in addition to working several paying jobs around town.
For Bernice, work is life and life is work.
"I was raised on a farm," said Jones. "My husband was a farmer. I chopped cotton when I was about 10 or 12 years old. We worked for ten cents an hour. We worked 10 hours to get a dollar."
It was during a bingo game Bernice was calling, that we decided to surprise her with the Gr8 Acts of Kindness reward. $408 is the amount of cold hard cash Jones was rewarded with from First Community Bank, the sponsor of Gr8 Acts of Kindness.
Standing in the coffee bar she helped to create at St. Bernards Senior Life Center, Jones got a big check to remember her big day.
"I saw that on TV and I thought that in a million years, that wouldn't happen to me," Jones said. Two hundred more dollars from anonymous donor will go to St. Bernards Senior Life Center.
"I say 'thank you, Lord' for this place every day," said Jones. "A lot of people would be by themselves and lonely if they didn't have this place to come and fellowship and interact with people."
"She is always smiling at everyone," Dennis Hickman, the man who nominated Jones, said. "If anyone deserves it, it's Bernice!"
"I bet you never met a character like me," Jones said with a big grin.
Always happy, despite her own trials. She lost a daughter to cancer and her husband died early in life. She has spinal issues and nerve damage. She experiences numbness down one leg.
"I thank the good Lord for every day that I can get one foot in front of the other," Jones said. "I take in everything. I'm busy. I don't stay at home any!"
Jones just celebrated a birthday.
"I'm a 1930 model!" she exclaimed.
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