JOHNSTON COUNTY – Today (Saturday), is a special day for Bernice Smith Jenkins as she celebrates her 101st birthday.
Family and friends plan to hold a surprise birthday party for her Sunday and the public is invited.
Bernice was one of 19 children born to her parents on Smith Road, between Smithfield and Clayton. She worked on her father’s farm growing tobacco and other crops.
She graduated in 1939 from Johnston County Training School. To help her family financially, she moved to New York and worked in the medical field where she enjoyed delivering babies.
While in New York she sent money back home to support her family and church, Johnston Piney Grove Baptist Church on Barber Mill Road near Clayton.
Bernice generously provided for her nieces and nephews to go to college. All of them now have successful careers.
Upon retirement in the 1970’s, Bernice returned to Johnston County and ever since has devoted much of her time to church.
Rev. Eva Mitchell is the associate pastor at Johnston Piney Grove Baptist Church and a lifelong friend of Bernice. “She is one of the most kind-hearted people that ever lived.”
Bernice was recently moved to the Brookdale Assisted Living Center in Raleigh, where she still continues her daily routine of calling the sick and shut-ins with an uplifting word.
Rev. Mitchell receives one of those daily calls. “She calls me every morning. Her words are ‘Good morning. God woke me up again today.’ She is an encourager.”
At Brookdale, Bernice enjoys attending aerobic classes, reading, listening to gospel music, and her daily telephone missionary work of sharing wisdom and faith.
Rev. Mitchell said church members and friends plan to surprise Bernice on Sunday, Nov. 26th at 2:00pm at Brookdale Assisted Living, located at 1200 Carlos Drive, Raleigh. The hour-long surprise birthday party will include her favorite ice cream, singing, and a celebration of her life. The event is open to the public if anyone would like to stop by. Even if you don’t know Bernice that okay, she has never met a stranger!
“We just want to surprise her. We would have done it Saturday (today) but there was another church event already scheduled,” Rev. Mitchell added.
Bernice Smith Jenkins was married but never had any children. For decades, she has taken on the youth at Johnston Piney Grove Baptist Church as her own children, and loves them all. They love her back.
“There is no one in our church that cannot say they didn’t receive some type of gift from her.”
Happy 101st Birthday Bernice. You have touched the lives of so many.