When Joyce Johnson was attending Brigham Young University, she hoped her future would include living in a rural community because she liked the values of small town America.
She got her wish when her husband, who worked for an Orem sports store as a student, decided Orem would be a great place to raise a family.
She hasn’t been disappointed. They raised four children and now have grandchildren who also live in Orem. For most of those decades, Johnson has been involved in improving life around her. Although Orem is no longer considered a small town, she loves the people, the atmosphere and the values that permeate the city.
For her extensive work in her chosen home town, the Orem Heritage Museum at SCERA will honor Johnson with the Orem Founder’s Day Award on Wednesday, July 19 at 6 p.m. at the SCERA Center for the Arts, 745 South State, Orem. “I am so humbled by this honor,” she says. “It is nothing I ever expected.” There will be a short presentation, light refreshments, and tours of the Orem Heritage Museum. Family, friends, associates and the general public are invited to attend.
Johnson has always felt that people should not sit around and then complain about how things are done. “You need to get involved and help change something if you seek change,” she explains. “We live in a beautiful country and beautiful city, and we owe something to those who came before who built and struggled and helped make Orem the community it is today.”
As a young mother, she immersed herself in the PTA and church service. She expanded her reach by serving on the Orem Planning Commission. She loved her involvement in city government. Among her highlights was a key role in developing the first city master plan and the multiple aspects required to create it. “We involved a lot of people in the community who gave valuable insights into what would improve our city.”
While she says many issues were addressed and resolved, she finds it interesting that many issues she dealt with many years ago remain a focus today. “That particularly applies to State Street,” she explains. “We spent a lot of time addressing what we wanted it to look like, how we could change it to make it better for pedestrians, and how to improve it in ways that would help businesses survive and thrive. Our city leaders are still working on that.”
Johnson’s service to Orem also included two elected terms on the city council.
Much of her service was with SCERA. “I loved SCERA from the moment we moved to Orem,” she says. “My children were heavily involved there, because it was the activity arm of the city. They took swimming lessons there, played ball there, and participated in many of the SCERA’s programs.”
She hopes the city continues to see SCERA as a real boost to the community, especially as it pertains to family, and she did her part advancing that ideal by serving on the SCERA Board several times, including a term as vice chair.
Among her deepest senses of accomplishment was her work with Orem City to help develop and promote the Neighborhoods in Action program. “We divided the city into sections, and each neighborhood had a chair and a co-chair, sometimes more. Our goal was to help our neighbors understand the workings of what was happening in their neighborhood. This outreach is especially important as the area grows.”
She fears that as Orem gets larger, more people will do little beyond living there, but indicates it is “vital to feel more affinity than that.” Every neighborhood has a park, for example, and the Neighborhood in Action program provides a way for people to feel responsible for their parks’ upkeep and safety.
“Orem is a great place to live,” says Adam J. Robertson, SCERA’s President and CEO. “People like Joyce Johnson are loyal to the city and work earnestly to improve our quality of life. We absolutely could use more Joyce Johnsons in this world.”