RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - On Monday evening, members of the Richmond School Board officially recognized school crossing guard Annie Reese. This year marks Reese’s 50th year on the job, protecting generations of children walking to and from school.
Neighborhoods change over the years as people come and people go. However, in this neighborhood, particularly at Stockton and 14th streets in Richmond, one lady remains - rain or shine.
"This is my block. I can almost own this block," said Reese. "Everybody around here knows me."
They know her as the crossing guard who stands guard at this intersection near Blackwell Elementary School.
She whistles, she waves and she walks students from one corner to the other.
"I have been here for the last 44 years in this one block," said Reese.
Forty-four years in the same spot, 50 years in the same career, which is a bit hard to believe for some.
"That's a lot of days," said first grade student Heaven Hubbard.
“I came here in 1969,” said Reese."When I first came here, it was like in December and it was so cold. I worked one week and then we went off for the Christmas holiday. So, I said, ‘no, I’m not coming back.’ But my supervisor talked me into coming back and trying just a little bit longer."
“A little bit longer” eventually turned into decades of keeping a keen eye on the comings and goings of cars and kids.
It hasn't always been easy.
"The cars scare me the most because they used to obey. But now, you know, they'll drive up on you and you'll tell them to stop and they'll keep right on going," said Reese.
However, this is this 78-year-old's way of protecting and serving the community, especially the youngest members of it.
"I just love the children. I do. I love the children," said Reese.
Over the years, she has gotten to know generations of them, becoming like an extra parent, not only telling them when to stop and go in traffic, but also, in life.
“My biggest reward is when they come back, after they’ve grown up and gotten grown and went into other things, they’ll come back and say, ‘Ms. Reese, I just thank you for all the things that you’ve done for me, and if it hadn’t have been for that, I would have been doing something else.’ That’s my greatest reward,” said Reese.
She has inspired hundreds of former elementary students, and it seems like even the current ones appreciate her sage advice, her smile and her sacrifice.
"If she wasn't right there to tell us stop, the cars would just run over us," said fourth grade student Harmony Hubbard."She's the best crossing guard ever."
Ms. Reese says she has never considered her position as simply a job. She sees it as living out her passion here on her block in a neighborhood she loves, and she is proud to say she has been doing just that now for 50 years.
"My years have been rewarding, and I have enjoyed them. Every one of them," said Reese.
As much as Ms. Reese loves her job, she says she is tired. She will retire at the end of this school year, and says she plans to work more in her church, and maybe travel a little.
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