Notable Women of Austin: Do you want to be inspired?

Published 8:32 am Wednesday, May 8, 2019

By Carolyn Bogott

American Association of University Women

Who among us would volunteer to purchase and individually bag 2500 items?

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Heather Johnson did just that in her first year as Holiday Store Coordinator for Banfield’s Parent Teacher Council’s annual store.

This is an event where children can purchase gifts for their family and friends during lunch recess the last week of school before winter break. And this year she had 3000 items, bagged and displayed for her young customers. Each item sells for $1, making it easy for the children to keep track of their shopping, as well as making it easy for the volunteers who help with the store. As buyer, Heather works all year, collecting items as diverse as pet toys to cell phone adapter plugs, scented hand soap to work gloves. Most of the items are from the Sterling Dollar Store.


Heather states: “The children are super excited and love the opportunity to buy gifts for others, on their own and in secret. It is a lot of work, but well worth it. And I could not create our Holiday Store without the gracious help of other parents and Banfield staff volunteers.”

In her role as vice president of Banfield’s Parent Teacher Council, Heather has other responsibilities as well. Each month, she designs and decorates the bulletin boards by the front doors. She helps process the orders and money for the the fall fundraiser, which helps fund many school activities and projects, including busing for field trips, technology upgrades, family fun nights, robotics, weekend food backpacks, school garden, and drama club.

Each first Friday of the month, she works on the popping and bagging of popcorn for each student for a fundraiser for student council. In the fall and spring, she helps with the book fairs. For school concerts, she arranges for the video recording and manages and distributes DVD orders. And one more of her responsibilities is keeping up to date a “giving tree,” a display asking for donations of clothing and supplies to be used by staff “when things go wrong for students.”

As if her volunteer activities at Banfield were not enough, Heather also works with Cub Scouts, and in addition maintains a list of volunteer jobs for St. Augustine Church.

An Austin native, Heather credits the example set by her parents, Mark and Debra Durben, with teaching her “to be a good person and do good deeds.” She is a stay-at-home-mom with sons, Ian, 9 and Gavin, 7. She credits her children as the motivation for her volunteer work. When she first volunteered three years ago on popcorn Fridays and on bulletin boards, Ian was so happy and proud to see her there. He went from being shy and quiet to being more sociable, and since then, he has followed his mother’s example by giving his time for crossing guards and student council.

Her husband, Jeremy, is a Cub Scout den leader and helps to teach Faith Formation. Their family talks over and works together on their various volunteer activities. Heather feels that seeing parents in leadership roles encourages children to take on similar tasks.

“Volunteering my time and talent has given me a great deal of pride in myself. I am one person helping hundreds of different people,” Heather said. “It takes only one act of kindness and caring from one person, to inspire another to create change. I am hoping that my story inspires others to get involved and make a difference in their community as well.”

Austin, and especially Banfield School, is very fortunate to have Heather Johnson working so hard in her quiet, efficient way.

For more information about the Austin Branch of AAUW, contact program co-chair, Sue Grove or Carolyn Bogott