Project Annie branching out to bring nursery school to Frenchtown

A sign that leans against a wall will soon be hung when Annie Johnson opens her nursery school.
Photo by St. Clair Murraine
Annie Johnson

By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook Staff Writer

Change is underway at the building that houses Project Annie.

There is a fresh coat of paint on the white walls. Repairs are being done to the floor.

It means that Annie Johnson is getting closer to her goal of establishing a nursery school. She already has a sign, but an opening date hasn’t been set. 

It will take children from age six months to 4 years old. Johnson will be director of the nursery, something she prepared for months ago when she received a certificate.

Johnson, who turns 90 on Jan. 6, just isn’t ready to slow down yet. 

“It keeps me up and going,” she said. “I still have work to do. You just don’t stop. When you’re working for God, you keep on working.”

When opening day comes for the nursery school, it will bring change to the concrete building that sits at the intersection of Fourth Avenue and Central Street. No one is doubting it will be a success.

Jennifer Williams, a volunteer with Project Annie for the past 20 years, is one of the most confident that the nursery will be operating soon.

“If you really want to do something you will find a way to do it,” Williams said.

The nursery will be in the same place where Johnson has fed thousands since opening in 1998. Just this past Thanksgiving, she fed 2,000 people.

Apart from the annual Thanksgiving Day meal, Johnson provides a food pantry. She’s even doubled as a counselor for residents in the neighborhood.

“I just try to teach them what little I know,” Johnson said.

Sometimes answers don’t come easily, keeping her up at nighttime.

“I think that is the worst thing,” she said. “You want to go to sleep and can’t go to sleep.”

Williams has seen and heard about a lot of what Johnson deals with daily. She volunteers twice each week, she said, because of Johnson’s benevolence.

“I think it’s very important for the community,” she said. “We can connect to give back in any way we can.”

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