Bay de Verde school celebrates completion of basketball court
Donation from philanthropist Sally Johnson recognizes a decades-old good deed
It was 27 years ago that Sally Johnson found herself in a bit of a squeeze.
Working with the provincial government in craft development, she was in Bay de Verde on business. As she was getting ready to move on, the van she was driving started sliding, coming to a stop with the nose of the vehicle hanging over a cliff. The vehicle was stuck, and going in reverse caused her van to inch a bit further over the edge.
“I was so scared,” Johnson told staff and students at Tricon Elementary last Wednesday.
Johnson was back in Bay de Verde to give back to the community and honour a local family that came to her aid.
Through a personal donation from Johnson, the widow of St. John’s businessman and philanthropist Paul Johnson, Sally Johnson cuts a cake made especially for last Wednesday’s celebration at Tricon Elementary. over $1,000 covered the cost of basketball nets on a new court. The pavement was previously paid for through a grant from another source.
Talking about her harrowing experience in Bay de Verde, Johnson recalled being worried the vehicle was going to fall over the cliff. She got out of the van and eventually found a woman, Winnie Power, who said her husband could help out.
Eventually Wayne Power showed up. A group effort involving Wayne and his children resulted in getting the vehicle, with considerable effort, out of harms way. The kids were pushing from underneath at the front, as there was a small ridge below the van.
“Well, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry,” said Johnson, who didn’t even own the work vehicle she was driving.
“I got out of that situation, and I thought, ‘I have to do something for this family,’ especially because those children … helped so much and they weren’t afraid. They were so brave.”
That opportunity to give back to Bay de Verde came about serendipitously. Tricon Elementary teacher Gillian Noonan was at an embroidery workshop and happened to sit next to Johnson. When she brought up her job in Bay de Verde, Johnson chatted with Noonan about her own history with the town and her ongoing desire to give back to the community.
Johnson expressed an interest in making some sort of donation to the school in honour of the Power family, which led to talk of the need for basketball nets.
“Remember that if you have an opportunity to pay it forward, it doesn’t take much,” Johnson said towards the end of her address to students on June 14. “Sometimes it’s just a hug, but it’s really important to everybody around you.”
No one from the Power family could attend last Wednesday’s event at the school, though teacher Nicole Driscoll is the fiancée of Wayne Power Jr., one of the children who helped Johnson 27 years ago.
Sally Johnson, far right, claps after cutting a ribbon outside Tricon Elementary in Bay de Verde, where the new basketball court was officially opened. The Johnson Family Foundation donated over $1,000 to cover the cost of two nets, recognizing an act by do-gooders 27 years ago when Johnson found herself in a precarious situation in the community. Standing next to Johnson is teacher Nicole Driscoll.
Students from Tricon Elementary perform their school chant to say thank you to Sally Johnson.
Tricon Elementary principal Wendy Clarke-Tizzard speaks to students while standing next to Sally Johnson.