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Why We Love This Place Wednesdays: Johnelle Wright

Wednesday, January 15th, 2020

By Terra Avilla

Coming into the new year, I am a big believer in the ‘New Year, New Me’ mantra.  In fact, I really think that, as humans, we should try to be better people – all year long.

I also am a huge fan of the idea that in order to better yourself, you should surround yourself  with a circle of people who motivate you to be better, because they are an example of what you strive to be.

Maybe one of your friends has a benevolent heart and is always volunteering, so you strive to be like her.  Maybe one of your other friends is an amazing mom, who seems to have more hours in the day than anyone else.  Maybe one of your friends is always kind and always seems to act in such a dignified way, you find yourself holding yourself to a higher standard of behavior when you are around them.

For me, I have all of those ‘friends’ encompassed in one very special woman – you may know her as Johnelle Wright.

I would be lying if I said the first thing I remembered about meeting Johnelle was not her quirky hair.  Always a cool color, always in her signature doo. When you meet her, it works for her and compliments her personality perfectly.

Johnelle is colorful. Johnelle is quirky. Johnelle is stylish and authentic.

A lot of you might remember her from when she worked for the City of Susanville years ago. Since then, she has taken a new career at Community Church, where she works tirelessly to serve their congregation, but really shines with her continuous outreach to our communities’ youth.

She works hard to plan events where teens can connect with each other in a positive way.  Where they can navigate the complexities of growing up in a healthy and safe environment.  I have several Police Explorers who attend her youth groups, and I can tell you, they all adore her.  She has a way with all people, that makes you want to be around her.

She is the type of adult that I want mentoring my children. She is the type of person that I hope one day is in my daughter’s life to help be a positive example.  Lord knows they most likely won’t listen to me, so I hope a “Johnelle-type” figure is in their life.

As my peer she is a great model of how you can be so entirely cool, and beautiful, and funny, without participating in activities that diminish yourself, like cursing, or partying etc.  Johnelle is proof that you can be wholesome and ‘hip’ at that same time.

Johnelle balances the demands of her life with so much grace.  She is able to excel at her career, volunteer and still makes it look effortless to be a caring wife and an attentive mother.

She has a daughter the same age Peach, with the same tenacity, and she makes it look so easy to raise a strong, spirited child.

Recently at Holiday with a Hero, where she volunteers for the board, we were both doing the same task – assigning volunteers and children to first responders. The difference between us: I was becoming a frustrated mess from the chaos of the day, and Johnelle, in her usual manner was patient and put together, still managing to be pleasant.  At one point I may, or may not have thrown a hissy fit, and what stopped me in my tracks was looking over to Johnelle.  She was my reminder. She smiled at me, I took a breath, and thought, “Okay, How would Johnelle handle this volunteer who is not listening and this child who is wiping boogers?” She would do it with grace.

The world is a better place, because people like Johnelle are in it.  I am a better person, because of Johnelle.  She a bright light in our community, whose shine never dulls. She is one of the reasons I love the place we live.

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