There was plenty of excitement inside the walls of the Johnston County Partnership for Children building in Benson on Wednesday afternoon. The unassuming set of classrooms along South Elm Street was buzzing with laughter and anticipation — waiting for one lady to arrive. Rosie Stumpf.
If you’re reading this and have ever visited or interacted with the Partnership for Children’s Resource Office in Benson you know Mrs. Stumpf. Even if you’ve never set foot inside the Partnership, there’s still a good chance you know her — her reach within the community is vast.
Mrs. Stumpf officially retired from her position as a Family Support Specialist this week — entering the Partnership building to a thunderous applause and the clicking of cell phones snapping photos.
Accompanied by her husband Mike, Mrs. Stumpf smiled and threw her head back in laughter as Beth Moore, Family Services Manager for the Partnership, rushed up to her and placed a sparkly “retirement tiara” in her hair.
Moments before, Ms. Moore was talking about Mrs. Stumpf’s 18-year career with the organization.
“She started by driving a bus and actually going into the community and going door to door — bringing literacy to kids that didn’t have it,” she explained. “After that, she’s been with our Family Support Team ever since. She’s provided programs, she’s bilingual so she’s helped the Hispanic community throughout the years, she has provided numerous resources.”
“She’s become like the grandma for everybody, all the children,” Ms. Moore added with a smile.
Families who have worked with Mrs. Stumpf and several of her co-workers crowded the hallway outside the classrooms on Wednesday. “Her spirit, her genuineness, her drive for helping others has really helped shape our culture here,” Ms. Moore said.
Following her arrival, Mrs. Stumpf seemingly talked with everyone there for the occasion before making a plate of snacks and venturing into a classroom to sit with the kids. “I feel mixed emotions. I’m happy I don’t have to live by the clock anymore, but I’m also sad because I’m no longer going to be working here…now, I’m going to cry,” she said with misty eyes.
“The families are what makes my job so special. Their trust that they put in me — that they can come to me and they feel like I will be there for them,” she continued. “Especially with the Hispanic community — to have built that relationship and that trust. We’re really family.”
And that’s the core of Mrs. Stumpf’s role at the Partnership. For nearly two decades she has been helping kids, teenagers, mothers, and fathers with the struggles of everyday life — from tough times at school to the challenges of being new parents. She’s bilingual and, as everyone mentioned at the retirement party, has played a large role in outreach to the Hispanic community in Benson.
“Rosie is the kind of the person that keeps things balanced. She’s good to the families and my staff loves her. She’s that one person everybody loves!” Partnership Executive Director Dwight Morris said.
“She’s just got that energy and that’s really effective when it comes to the families. She has really helped us connect to the Hispanic community and she’s good at what she does,” he said. “I hate to lose her. It’s bittersweet, but she’s ready to retire and I’m happy for her.”
Back in the classroom, at her own retirement party, Mrs. Stumpf seemed interested in only one thing — helping kids.
“Right now, we’re on the case of the missing sneakers,” she said, nodding to a young lady sitting at the table with her who had misplaced her shoes.
People filed in and out of the two-hour retirement party over the course of the afternoon to thank Mrs. Stumpf for her outreach and wish her well, but it was the woman-of-the-hour herself that said it best.
“These are my people, this is my life.”