By Erica Thomas, managing editor
TRUSSVILLE — Trussville resident and retired St. Vincent’s Chaplain Dr. Penny Njoroge placed first runner-up at the Ms. Senior Alabama 2020 pageant, on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020.
Because of COVID-19, pageant organizers were not sure they could have a pageant this year, but thanks to Crossbridge Church of Christ, the pageant was possible. The date of the pageant was special for Njoroge, who celebrated her third anniversary of citizenship on Sept. 12.
Njoroge’s inspiring story has changed lives and inspired many others. She came to the United States from Africa in 2000. She didn’t start college until she was 56-years-old, after experiencing an abusive domestic situation. Eventually, Njoroge obtained a doctorate and was a board-certified chaplain and licensed counselor, further helping others.
“I don’t think it was a coincidence,” Njoroge said. “I’m a Christian and I tend to reflect on my background and look at where God has put me. I was born and raised in Kenya and was in the slums of Nairobi. I was never supposed to go to school but God gave me the opportunity.”
After beating all of the odds, Njoroge said she fought to make the best life possible for herself and her four children.
“This is my way of blazing a trail for other people my age and for people in my country,” Njoroge added.
She worked at St. Vincent’s for 16 years. Looking back, Njoroge said she got her strength from her desire to help others.
“During the abuse, I attempted suicide twice and I was almost successful the second time,” said Njoroge. “But it was God that got me through it all.”
Kim Crawford-Meeks, a current chaplain at St. Vincent’s, said Njoroge inspired her to become a chaplain after her daughter was involved in a motorcycle accident.
“She had her ear cut off and collar bone sticking straight out, and we were at the hospital waiting on one of her surgeries, and in the door walked Chaplain Penny,” Crawford-Meeks said. I asked if I could speak to her and she invited me to her home. She told me her courageous story and said if I can do it, you can.”
Njoroge coached Crawford-Meeks through the process, telling her how to become a chaplain.
“I did all of those and have been a staff chaplain at St. Vincent’s for 6 years,” Crawford-Meeks said. “I am now following in Penny’s footsteps in leading groups in Behavioral Health.”
“She is one of the best chaplains at that hospital and I am so proud of her,” Njoroge said of Crawford Meeks.
Njoroge said she is thankful she could inspire others. She hopes to continue empowering others. She runs Angel Counseling Services, helping victims of domestic violence and those with mental illness. She is also a motivational speaker. If not for her mother, who taught her children to rise above poverty and strives for success, Njoroge said she would not been able to do all of the things she has done. Now, it is her children and grandchildren Njoroge credits for her success.
“They have stuck with me through thick and thin, stood at my bedside as I faced death from sickness and surgery, fought for my life and cared for me back to health and wholeness to serve my God, my community and nation as I do today,” she explained.
Njoroge not only won the first runner-up in the Ms. Senior Alabama pageant, but she also won Miss Congeniality and People’s Choice.