Reverend Eric Johnson became emotional when he found out that his mother, Barbara L. Ruffin Johnson, was being honored by Sisters Place, Inc.

“I thought it was very worthwhile and I was honored that they acknowledged her,” said Johnson, who lives in Uniontown.” I wish my mom had been here to receive the award herself.”

Barbara L. Ruffin Johnson passed away on March 12, 2008. She was a supervisor with Mon Yough Mental Health and Retardation before her retirement. She was also a former director with the Allegheny Intermediate Unit.

IN MEMORY OF BARBARA JOHNSON (1937-2008). Members of the Johnson family with Barbara Johnson’s award.

The Clairton resident was an integral part of the Clairton community where she was a lifelong resident. She was a mentor to young people by helping them obtain enough credits to graduate.

Johnson was one of four women who were awarded for their selfless deeds by Sisters Place, Inc. during the yearly “Hats Off To Mom” luncheon.

Sisters Place. Inc., is a nonprofit organization located at 418 Mitchell Ave. in Clairton. The initiative offers transitional and permanent housing and supportive services for homeless, single parents and families in southwestern, Pa.

“We continue to have this luncheon because we have these single moms and all they want to do is raise their children. The theme of the afternoon is motherhood and we honor people who have been like mothers to other people by nurturing them and caring for them,” said Mary Parks, executive director of Sisters Place, Inc.

The luncheon, which was held May 8, took place at the Ascension Hall in Clairton. It featured food catered by local restaurant E.A.T.S., a silent auction, a meet and greet session and a jewelry selling table.

“Everyone was dressed in hats and the cakes and other food was delicious. It was a nice day,” said awardee Edie Harshbar­ger. Harshbarger, who lives in Brookline, was honored because of her never-ending devotion to her family. She has been raising her three grandsons since her daughter, Jackie’s death last year. Jackie had been a resident of Sisters Place, Inc. for seven years.

“Through the grace of God we were able to get my daughter back. Jackie loved Sisters Place and we love Sisters Place. I was surprised to know that I was getting honored because to me, I’m not doing anything special. I’m doing what I’m supposed to do.”

Edie and her husband, Dan, have adopted grandsons Zakery and Zayne and are in the process of adopting Cody.

Honoree Irene Dzimiera lives in Monongahela. She is a well-known community member and is very active in her church, Transfiguration Parish. Dzimiera is a member of the Apostolic Committee, Ladies of Charity and the Altar and Rosary Society.

Reverend Dr. Judith C. Moore was also surprised to receive an award from Sisters Place, Inc.

“I was pleasantly surprised and honored because I wasn’t working for that. I gravitate toward children and I think Sisters Place is wonderful,” Moore said.

Moore has been the pastor of First AME Church in Clairton for four years. She was appointed dean of Pittsburgh’s AME Institute’s 3rd District in 2005. She started a rap session with the pastor every week for the church’s youth and a mime group called Moore’s Miracles and Praise For Youth. She has been married to her husband, Leo, for more than 20 years. The couple lives in New Kensington.

Proceeds from the “Hats Off To Mom” luncheon will benefit the women and families of Sisters Place, Inc.

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