| Neighborhoods

Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Meet Your Neighbors: Donna Burns is a lifelong resident

Margie Stanislaw | The Jeannette Spirit
Donna Burns has been working with Head Start for nearly 40 years in Jeannette.

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

Daily Photo Galleries

Jeannette Photo Galleries

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By Margie Stanislaw
Wednesday, April 24, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

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.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.



Show commenting policy

Most-Read Jeannette

  1. Kids play, learn at Jeannette summer program
  2. Jeannette Day of Faith set for Saturday
  3. Monument honors old Jeannette High School at new building
  4. Field trips can motivate good behavior at Jeannette McKee
  5. Museum brings artist to Jeannette Library