Vicksburg nurse, educator honored as Ageless Hero’

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 9, 2001

Pearline Williams, who was chosen from among 200 senior citizens nationwide as a 2001 Ageless Hero for her work with the We Care Community Service, stands in the agency’s Variety Store. (The Vicksburg Post/PAT SHANNAHAN)

[01/09/01] School trustee, nurse and volunteer Pearline Williams, in her 70s, is being honored as a person who keeps on working.

“I just like helping people,” Williams said.

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Her award in the Ageless Heroes Program of Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi will be presented in Hattiesburg a week from Tuesday.

Williams, the central region honoree, is the outreach and health specialist at We Care Community Services in Vicksburg, a nationally recognized outreach program begun 28 years ago by her husband, Tommy Lee Williams Sr.

She is a also postpartum Medicaid nurse for the Warren County Health Department and secretary of the Vicksburg Warren School District Board of Trustees.

“They (the heroes) realize that staying involved and staying active is the secret to staying young,” said Susan Christensen of Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi’s Corporate Communications.

More than 200 senior Mississippians were nominated for awards in the program’s second year, Christensen said. Nomination forms were placed in pharmacies and libraries throughout Mississippi, as well as on the Blue Cross Web site.

Eighteen regional nominees were selected from the northern, central and southern parts of the state, and six were named statewide heroes.

We Care offers programs that include after-school tutoring and summer activities for youths, a food pantry and a clothes closet, an immunization outreach program and a thrift store.

As We Care’s outreach and health specialist, Williams educates parents on the importance of vaccinations for their children, provides transportation to the child’s health-care provider, keeps track of immunization records for area schools and sends immunization reminders to parents.

“She is very deserving,” said We Care administrator Rose Bingham. “It’s fitting and it’s a testament of her past and present.”

Williams, retired from a career as a nurse, has been postpartum Medicaid nurse for the local health department since October 1999.

“It’s a part-time job with a full-time commitment,” she said.

Williams visits new mothers and tells them about services available in the community and checks the health of the baby and the mother. She also makes sure the baby has a Medicaid card and a Social Security card.

Along with her other activities in the area, Williams has been a member of the Vicksburg Warren school board since 1990 and feels her position as secretary is a way to give back to the community.

“We have so much that we can do to help the children,” she said. “I feel like this is a service that I am giving to the community.”

Williams was nominated for the Ageless Hero Award by her daughter, Dr. Adena Williams Loston, president of San Jacinto College South in Houston, Texas.

Loston said she was in Vicksburg last year for her 30-year high school reunion when she saw a nomination form and decided to nominate her mother.

“I’m very proud of her,” Loston said. “I was quite elated when I heard she was one of the ones nominated.”

“I really didn’t think anything would come of it,” her mother said. “I was really shocked and surprised.”

“I don’t expect pay for the things I have done,” Williams said. “The greatest satisfaction that I get is knowing that I have helped somebody.”

Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi will donate $10,500 to charities chosen by the Ageless Heroes, and each hero’s name will be given to the national Ageless Heroes Program. Also, We Care will receive $250 on behalf of Williams’ achievements.

The Ageless Heroes awards luncheon will be at Lake Terrace Convention Center in Hattiesburg. The honorees will be recognized in six different areas including Community Involvement, Creativity, Good Neighbor, Love of Learning, New Beginnings and Vitality, the category in which Williams is being honored.

The speaker will be 73-year-old Tommy Lasorda, former Los Angeles Dodgers manager and baseball Hall of Famer who led the United States baseball team to its first Olympic gold medal.