After working since the age of 14, raising eight children, and graduating college at the age of 50, no one could begrudge Ernestine Simpson for kicking back in retirement. But the affable octogenarian continues her community involvement with a myriad of volunteer activities.
“As a volunteer you have to be committed. The more you give, the more you get back. I’ve volunteered at the Lighthouse, the library, the Board for Concerned Parents, and at the AC Boys and Girls Club. I’m also involved with Phi Delta Kappa sorority and AARP.”
Education had always occupied a prominent role Ernestine’s life. In addition to after dinner family discussions, exposure to African American luminaries pushed her forward.
“At New Jersey Avenue School we had assemblies on Fridays. Our principal, Mr. Montgomery T. Gregory, brought in Paul Robeson, Marian Anderson, Roland Hayes, and 13-year-old piano prodigy Philippa Schuyler to speak. George Washington Carver came to our school from Tuskegee, and I can still remember his message. They taught us to be proud of who we are.”
Following her child rearing years, Ernestine returned to school and graduated from Stockton University with degrees in social work and education.
“I did my social work practicum at DYFS, but I didn’t feel that I was doing what I was supposed to be doing, so I went into the schools. I worked in a special program called Follow Through where I became a parent coordinator. Then I worked with the high school program YET, which dealt with kids who were potential dropouts.”
Through the years, one thing is certain about Ernestine Simpson. She has never dropped out of the task of making lives better.
John “Yonk” Rosnick