Monday, June 25, 2018
News Roundup

Holiday Hopes: A 66-year-old and 10 children have a host of needs

YBOR CITY

Sometimes they cry because they miss their other mommies. • That makes Ruby Brown cry, too. She tells them through the tears that she knows how they feel. Her own mother had been a young teen and gave her to an older sister to raise. • Ruby had wondered as a child: Why would my mother give me to my aunt? • There are 10 now, siblings and cousins, the children of Ruby's four great-nieces. • She takes them into her wood-frame home, built in 1918 and sagging from its seams. Five boys in one room, five girls in another. Anthony, at 13, is oldest. Emony will turn 2 on Christmas. • If she couldn't keep them, she wonders, who would? • She's not young anymore, she reminds them gently when they act up. She is 66. • "We've got to do this as a team," she says. • The team started seven years ago with the first four. The last four came seven months ago. • They call her Mama Joy. • She calls them her ministry.

• • •

Soon after 6 a.m., Anthony pours coffee and mixes in a teaspoon of brown sugar and cream. He takes it to Mama Joy in her room, where she spends a few minutes in devotion. She prays hard before each day, and the children let her have this time. The older ones help the younger ones get ready for school.

The day will get hectic with 10 kids.

Sometimes the other mothers cause trouble. Then Mama Joy gets a stream of social workers and police officers through her door, counting beds and looking in cupboards.

Still, Mama Joy never gives up on the mothers. When she took their kids, they made an agreement. Each would get an education and a job and come back to get her kids.

"Your mom will be back one day," Mama Joy tells the children. "She's going to get her act together. You be ready."

She looks into each and sees a lovely soul. You're a good artist. You're a good reader. You're special. One day you're going to be a doctor or a lawyer or a football player.

Still, kids are kids.

One morning last week, Blair, who is 7, had taunted Anthony: "Your mom is not around."

So they had a talk about talking about mothers. Be the better person, Mama Joy said.

"You got to stop him and say: 'Look, we're not going to talk about each other's parents.' " she instructed Anthony. "Blair does not know your mom."

She calls from Miami once a year. She tells them — Anthony, Kayla, Kenneth and Keon — that she's coming.

Anthony prays for that every day.

• • •

Long ago, Mama Joy learned an important lesson. She was in her 20s when her aunt gave her a house. Mama Joy thought is was squalid and ugly. She didn't want it. Her aunt was devastated. She said she hadn't raised her to be unappreciative. Her aunt told her she could paint a tent and make it a home.

"I never forgot that," Mama Joy said.

Her aunt left her the house where they now live. The county property appraiser values it at $27,500. Its ceiling panels droop and floors creak and tilt. It has one bathroom and no closets. The light switches don't work, so they use lamps. The kids unplug the stove to use the microwave.

Yet it is a home.

She keeps it tidy and comfortable. Her son brought her a live tree last week, filling the house with its scent. The children decorated it.

She hopes that one day these kids will see their lives as she does hers. God chose her to be there for them, she said. She was chosen like her kind and wise aunt, the woman she called mom.

Elisabeth Parker can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3431.

 
Comments
Driver deliberately struck family riding on New Tampa bike path, killing father, police say

Driver deliberately struck family riding on New Tampa bike path, killing father, police say

TAMPA — A driver made a U-turn, crossed a lane of traffic and a grassy easement then sped up and deliberately slammed into a father and his two young sons as they rode down a bike path, killing the father and the injuring the two sons, Tampa police s...
Updated: 14 minutes ago
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Witness says Jameis Winston was unruly and alone in Uber

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Witness says Jameis Winston was unruly and alone in Uber

Tom Jones joins the podcast to talk about Jameis Winston's reported three-game suspension, as information from another witness has come out saying Winston was unruly and in the Uber by himself during the evening in question.Plus, the Rays sweep the b...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Repeat of Sunday’s powerful, and deadly, storms forecast this week for Tampa Bay

Repeat of Sunday’s powerful, and deadly, storms forecast this week for Tampa Bay

Conditions similar to those that flooded streets in South Tampa, pelted areas across Tampa Bay and produced lightning that killed a woman in Siesta Key on Sunday will be intact throughout the week — and with even more frequency.Typical summer weather...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Roseanne Barr breaks down sobbing in newly released interview after racist tweet: ‘I’ve lost everything’

Roseanne Barr breaks down sobbing in newly released interview after racist tweet: ‘I’ve lost everything’

An interview Roseanne Barr gave to a celebrity rabbi in the days after her infamous twitter rant was released Sunday, showing a weeping Barr pleading for forgiveness and saying "I’m not a racist. I’m an idiot."Rabbi Shmuley Boteach released the emoti...
Updated: 1 hour ago
The Daystarter: Arrest made in New Tampa hit-and-run; who will pay for their name on proposed Rays park in Ybor?; Rays complete series sweep of Yankees

The Daystarter: Arrest made in New Tampa hit-and-run; who will pay for their name on proposed Rays park in Ybor?; Rays complete series sweep of Yankees

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.   • We’ll have another wet day to start the week, with widespread afternoon and evening thundershowers, according to 10Weather WTSP. High temperatures should top out near ...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Hooper: Michelle Obama’s 2016 clarion call needs to be heard today

When they go low, we go high.Those words drew an astounding amount of applause when then First Lady Michelle Obama delivered them at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.Yet some people treat the statement as merely the basis of a good meme, inste...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Woman killed by lightning strike on Siesta Key

Woman killed by lightning strike on Siesta Key

A woman was killed Sunday afternoon in a lightning strike on Siesta Key.According to the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, deputies responded after receiving a call around 2:15 p.m. of a person struck by lightning in the 6000 block of Midnight Pass R...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Ex-Bucs DE Keith McCants arrested, facing cocaine charge

Ex-Bucs DE Keith McCants arrested, facing cocaine charge

Former Alabama star and Bucs defensive end Keith McCants was arrested in St. Petersburg early Monday morning and is facing a felony charge of possession of crack cocaine, according to arrest records.McCants, 50, was arrested by the Pinellas County Sh...
Updated: 4 hours ago
PolitiFact Florida: Republican PAC misleads in ad about Sen. Bill Nelson’s record on Social Security, Medicare

PolitiFact Florida: Republican PAC misleads in ad about Sen. Bill Nelson’s record on Social Security, Medicare

A new ad portrays Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson as a career politician who doesn’t have the backs of senior citizens.The New Republican PAC, which is backing Gov. Rick Scott in Florida’s closely watched Senate race, released a 30-second ad criticizing ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
What name would a new Rays stadium carry? It’s a multi-million dollar question

What name would a new Rays stadium carry? It’s a multi-million dollar question

TAMPA — Yankee Stadium, Fenway and Wrigley are ballparks whose names are woven into the lore of America’s national pastime.Petco Park and Guaranteed Rate Field? Not so much.The trade-off for that clunky corporate handle is typically an annual payout ...
Updated: 4 hours ago