Alma Johnson embodies the proverb “It takes a village to raise a child.” She has helped raise children in her Crowley, Louisiana, community for decades.
Johnson is a grandmother, but she is also known as the “neighborhood nanny.” She offers more than a daycare or nanny service, however.
She has created a village of support and love while also meeting the very real physical needs of the children in her care. What’s even more amazing is that she does it all for free.
Childcare costs can be a huge stumbling block for many parents, especially moms in the community, as they seek jobs. Johnson didn’t want the lack of childcare to stop struggling moms in her neighborhood from getting or maintaining employment.
So, she opened the doors to her apartment at Kathy Apartments. Every child is welcome.
If children don’t come with food, they are still welcome. If a mom doesn’t have money for diapers, Johnson will do her best to provide them.
Parents who are able to bring supplies do so. Other parents are incredibly grateful in their time of need to lean on the community Johnson has created.
There are no off days for Johnson. She welcomes the hungry children into her home seven days a week.
It’s undeniable that the time, energy, and love she puts into her community every day is of great value, so why doesn’t she charge people for this service? Johnson is motivated by her faith.
She told CBS News, “My house is never empty…I just love them, ’cause I made a promise to the Lord and he gave me the strength to do it.”
Part of her motivation also comes from her own experience as a child. Johnson grew up in the area and is all too familiar with the struggles that many of the neighborhood families face.
Work, out of necessity, trumped going to school, even as a child. Now, she wants to see that the children in her neighborhood get the education she never had.
For many children, the school bus is the only way they will make it to school. If they miss the bus, they aren’t going to school.
Johnson has taken notice of when children miss the bus and will even knock on the door of their homes to offer a free ride so their education doesn’t suffer. She has told parents to get their children dressed because she is taking them to school.
“I bring them to school in the morning, I’ll pick them up if it’s raining—and the Lord always blesses me with a few dollars to keep some gas in my car, so I can keep going. It just makes my heart full,” Johnson shared with KATC.
It might be just a free ride, a free meal, or free day of childcare, but those acts of service quickly add up and have changed the lives of those she serves. One neighbor commented, “It’s the most beautiful thing that’s going around here.”