Bonnie Carver is a retiree who spends her “free time” supporting teachers and students, doing movie nights for neighborhood youth, promoting unity within the county, assisting police at community events, and bringing souls to Christ through her role as a deacon at her church. Her story teaches us to never stop doing God’s work.
Q) What was your upbringing like in Person County?
A) I’ve been in Person County all my life. I am the oldest of four kids. My grandparents raised me in the Nichols Avenue community. I’ve lived there all my life. When I was five years old I started attending First Baptist Church. At that time we were where Hester, Whitted & Daye is. Then I started school where First Baptist is now. That was the elementary school. Then after they tore that down I started going to South Elementary School. From there I went to Southern Junior High School and then Person Senior High School and I graduated in 1978.
After high school I became an Eagle! I went to North Carolina Central University and graduated with a B.A. in Political Science with a concentration in criminal justice.
Q) What was your career path and what are your proudest achievements?
A) After college I worked at an investigation agency for about a year. Then I worked at a mill for about three years. Then I started working at Murdoch Developmental Center, which is a disability center. I worked there 31 years and I retired from there in 2016. It was a wonderful experience. I worked with people with special needs. I was responsible for helping them get paid jobs. I started there as a developmental technician, then I moved into the role of Educational Development Assistant before becoming head EDA, making sure the residents got jobs and developed work experience. Working with people with special needs was a challenge for me at first, because I never thought that was something I would be doing. But once I started working with them, I enjoyed it because they were so happy. Just to see them happy everyday was huge inspiration for me. I loved it. And Clementine Pulliam, who became my supervisor, was a mentor for me there and encouraged me when I first started, so I’m very grateful for her friendship and guidance.
Q) What organizations or community endeavors do you participate in?
A) I do volunteer work at South Elementary School. I’ve been doing that for three years. I’m a member of an outreach program with First Baptist and four other churches and we volunteer in Person Court and Heritage Square, that whole area across from South Elementary. We work with the kids there. We do cookouts, movie nights, Vacation Bible School, other activities like that for the kids there. I am also involved with BASIC, Brothers And Sisters In Conversation. And I am a member of the Roxboro Police Academy, which is where you go through training to see what the police officers do. You go through different scenarios, like crime scenes. And whatever programs the police have, we come to aid them, bring food and things like that. I first started with that in 2007. That’s something that people in the community can be involved with to give a helping hand to the police department and to see what all they do. Because some people don’t think they do anything, but that’s far from the truth. I recommend that program to everyone who has time. It is a wonderful experience.
And of course, I’m a part of a lot of different organizations and activities within my church. In 2018 Susan Tucker and I were the first women deacons appointed at First Baptist Church. It’s a lot of work but the Lord blessed me with a good example of what a deacon is in Deacon Randolph Barnette and his wife Olivia Barnette. They have always been my personal inspiration. They are the ones who got me to attend First Baptist when I was five. And I would always be with them as if they were my parents, going to things like the Sunday School convention. My parents were members of Old Mt. Zion Baptist Church, but I would always be with them, so I saw the value of being a good deacon.
Now it’s a job. I’ll tell anyone that. If you’re doing the work, it’s a job. But you just have to be rooted in Christ, carrying yourself in a Christlike way, and trying to win souls for Christ. The process of me becoming a deacon started with my pastor asking me to meet with him. In the meeting he said that God was telling him that he wanted female deacons for our church. And prior to that, I had a premonition about becoming a deacon, but I said to myself, no that can’t be. So when my pastor said that, I cried because I thought, Lord, you showed me this but I said no it couldn’t be. I cried the whole time in the meeting. Because I had seen it. But my thing was, Lord, are you sure this what you want. I prayed about it. I prayed hard. For a whole year I prayed, and my pastor prayed. And God kept revealing it to me. So I said, Lord, if this is what you want. And it’s tough because there are other people in the church who may have wanted to be deacons, and then me being a woman…I was like, Lord, are you sure. But I just kept praying and saying, Lord if this is what you want me to do, I’m going to do it to the best of my ability.
Q) Why is it important that women be recognized for their foundational work in our community and our nation?
A) Women should be recognized because there are a lot of things that we do. A lot of people think there are things only men can do but that is not true. We are the backbone of the community. And we handle a lot of things that they don’t give us credit for. People think that being a deacon is only for men and not for women. A lot of people have a stereotype that women should not be deacons. But if that’s what God desires then why have a problem with it. We are just as important as men are. Yes, the man is the head of the household in a family, but the woman is the backbone.
Q) What do you envision for the future of Person County?
A) I envision unity. I pray every day for unity and love. That everyone would be treated the same and we all come together as one.
Q) What is your advice for girls and young women who may look to you as motivation?
A) Hold your head up. You can be anyone you want to be. And always carry yourself in a decent and mannerly way. Always show respect and you will get respect. Don’t ever belittle yourself for anybody. My grandmother always told me, two thing you keep is good credit and respect. Don’t lower your standards for anybody. Always hold your head up.