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Meet Your Neighbors: Donna Burns is a lifelong resident

| Wednesday, April 24, 2013, 9:03 p.m.
Donna Burns has been working with Head Start for nearly 40 years in Jeannette.
Margie Stanislaw | The Jeannette Spirit
Donna Burns has been working with Head Start for nearly 40 years in Jeannette.

Donna Davis Burns is a lifelong resident of the Jeannette community.

Her entire family remains in the Jeannette and Greensburg areas. She is a graduate of Jeannette High School and shortly after graduation she married her high school sweetheart, Willie “Tok” Burns, who is also a lifelong resident.

The couple has three children, all of whom reside in the City of Jeannette. Daughter Deonna Burns has one son, Willie “T.J.” Burns, 22, who attended Jeannette High School.

He and his girlfriend, Olivia Hayden, have one child, Danika Burns, who will turn 1 in May.

Daughter Jewel Burns has two boys, Shaw Sunder, 21, and Miles Sunder, 15.

Daughter Jessica Burns lives at home and is employed at Head Start.

Burns also has a stepson, Todd Lewis, who has two children who live in Jeannette, Todd Jr., and Ashante.

For the past 38 years, Burns has been employed at Westmoreland Community Action's Head Start Program located at First Baptist Church on Second Street.

Head Start is an early education intervention program that encourages parent involvement and focuses on learning, health and good nutrition.

Burns was a parent of Head Start children before becoming involved as an employee.

Burns works as a teacher, but started out as a food manager.

“I like the kids, and my co-workers are like family there,” said Burns, whose daughter works at the same site.

Her love of children also prompted Burns to apply at the JAYS Afterschool Middle School Program, a free afterschool enrichment program offered at Jeannette Middle School.

She has been at the JAYS Program for about seven years where she works as the coordinator's aide. “I like the kids.

“It would be nice if we had more kids (at JAYS). It's a nice program. It's fun and interesting.”

Burns likes to cook for her family and also likes to bake. Cookies are her specialty and she gets recipes off of the Internet in addition to sharing with friends and other people.

She is very active at Zion Hill Baptist Church where she has “been a member since I was a little girl.” At Zion Hill, she is on the usher board and the kitchen committee.

To learn more about working with children or cooking, get to know neighbor Donna Burns.

Editor's note: Meet Your Neighbors is a recurring feature in The Jeannette Spirit. If you know of a neighbor with an interesting life story to tell, someone who deserves some recognition for volunteer work, a resident with a special talent or an avid collector who would like to be featured, call the Spirit at 724-838-5154 or send an email to

Margie Stanislaw is a freelance writer.

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