SHERIDAN — When people talk about tasting the love that goes into food, they could be referring to food prepared by Walline Johnson.
Every Tuesday, Johnson volunteers her time at the Y Healthy Kitchen from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Her love of children and cooking is evident in the care she puts into preparing meals for the Sheridan County YMCA child care and general members.
Johnson has always worked in the food service industry, and enjoys it immensely. She got her nickname “Wally” during her college years when she worked at the Copper Kettle, a former Sheridan restaurant. Johnson started working as an assistant cook for Meadowlark School when her youngest son started school and has cooked for the Sheridan Junior High School and Sheridan High School over the years.
She is humble about her cooking ability, preferring always to be the assistant cook.
Johnson started coming to the Y in 2009, shortly after her retirement from Sheridan County School District No. 2. Her husband, Marvin, had been a regular member at the Y and encouraged her to become an active participant.
Johnson enjoys the Active Older Adult exercise classes every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and loves the socialization aspect of the class.
Johnson says of her classmates, “We like to give the instructors a bad time!” She added that she has met many new friendly people at the Y and feels a great sense of family.
When asked why she chose to volunteer at the Y, Johnson was quick to answer that she responded to a call for help with the Healthy Kitchen.
She also noted that volunteering is a great activity after retirement, as it enhances one’s well-being socially, as opposed to being “stuck in a rut at home.”
“The Y Healthy Kitchen is a very relaxed atmosphere and you get to see a lot of people,” she said. “Last week, I saw a lady who thought I looked familiar. I told her I used to work in the cafeteria at the schools, and her eyes lit up immediately. She recognized me from Junior High School, and that was a long time ago! Now, that’s rewarding!”
In her free time, Johnson enjoys crafts and she is working on beaded sequin calendars at the moment. Johnson also helps take care of “adopted neighborhood children” who pop over to her house to share their school stories or milestones with her. Being active and not having to be at a particular place, at a particular time, are things Johnson enjoys about being retired.
Johnson’s experience with volunteering in the Y Healthy Kitchen is like spending time in most big “family kitchens.” It’s the place where people come together to enjoy each other with good food and good company and you can surely taste the love in her final product.
To learn more about volunteer opportunities at the Y Healthy Kitchen, contact Patty Cox at 674-7488.