Sunday, November 19, 2017
News Roundup

Mama Joy and her large brood get a home makeover

RECOMMENDED READING


YBOR CITY

Rain leaked in through holes in the roof of the 1918 home.

Inside, 10 children shared one bathroom. They had no closets. Light switches didn't work, so they used lamps. And they unplugged the stove to use the microwave.

One day, Mama Joy — that's what the kids call her — was sitting at her kitchen table when a ceiling panel fell and hit her on the neck.

The house was falling down on top of Ruby Brown in December, when she was the focus of a Tampa Bay Times Holiday Hopes story. Her aunt had raised her and left her the house. So when her three nieces came to her with their children, she took them so the mothers could get their lives on track.

With all those children, she needed plenty of things, but most of all, a safe, clean home.

It was a big ask.

• • •

When Tim Mann read about the circle of life that led Ruby Brown to take in all these children, he heard God's voice. Mann attends Relevant Church, less than a mile from Brown's home. For the past six years, the church has renovated a home for a single mom for Mother's Day, somewhat similar to the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition TV series.

Mann and Pastor Paul Wirth met with Brown. Typically modest, she told them about one door that scraped the floor and some outlets that didn't work. They could tell the home needed more.

They decided Mama Joy's house would be their seventh.

• • •

Spend a little time with Brown, who is 67, and she will teach you about patience. And faith.

Every morning she prays: "God give me the strength and I'll do it."

Over her bed a license plate had read: Praise the Lord. Under it she had written: I am healed I am whole.

Last Saturday, she led the children in a prayer and a song in her sister's living room.

"What's his name?" she said.

"Jesus," they responded in unison.

The children were spilling over with excitement. They had moved out of the home a week earlier and watched from across the street where they stayed with Brown's sister as church people went in and out of their home.

It was almost time.

"Thy kingdom come, thy will be done," Brown said.

Brown reminded the children to show love and appreciation. And to not be wild.

Pastor Wirth lined them up, oldest to youngest.

Then he high-fived Brown and said "C'mon sweet darling."

They walked across the street.

• • •

"Give me two minutes," yelled Tammy Thorne, wearing a utility belt around her waist and hanging a plaque that read "Faith" on the kitchen wall. "Don't let her in."

Thorne had started shopping weeks earlier for bathroom towels and princess and sports-themed bedding.

Someone saw a three-stack bunk bed on Pinterest and a church member made it for the boys' room. Thorne and many others had spent much of the week at the home, ripping out and remodeling until late into the night.

They paneled the living room ceiling with wood and hung a cross on the wall.

Now just a few more plaques remained in the kitchen. Hope and Peace.

Move a whiteboard in the hallway down a few inches.

Set a bowl on the table stacked with oranges and red and green apples.

• • •

Brown stepped past wet paint on the front porch and slipped off her shoes.

"Oh, thank you Jesus," she said. "Where did you get all this space?"

Two bathrooms. No extension cords anywhere. Her bedroom, she proclaimed, simply gorgeous. "Fantastic," Brown said. "I've not had a closet in a long, long time."

In the last room, the kitchen, all turned around with new appliances and counters and a big table in the center, Brown raised the blinds over her kitchen sink. Dozens of church members were in her yard, smiling and waving. About 140 people had pitched in on the makeover.

Mama Joy stepped outside and the church enveloped her, laying hands on her as they prayed. She thanked them and told them the kids would never forget this.

"You're part of our family, now," Pastor Wirth said. "Welcome home."

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

     
 
Comments
Two unhurt after small plane clips tree during emergency landing in Clearwater

Two unhurt after small plane clips tree during emergency landing in Clearwater

CLEARWATER — Two men walked away unhurt from a small airplane after it clipped a tree and spun around as the pilot tried to make an emergency landing on Keene Road, deputies said.Pilot Marc Benedict, 61, and passenger Gregory Guinee, 55, of Clearwate...
Updated: 23 minutes ago
Country artist Mel Tillis, who traced success to Plant City youth, dead at 85

Country artist Mel Tillis, who traced success to Plant City youth, dead at 85

OCALA — Mel Tillis, the Tampa native and affable country star who overcame a stutter and wrote hits for others and himself, has died.A spokesman for Tillis, Don Murry Grubbs, said Tillis died early Sunday at Munroe Regional Medical Center in Ocala. H...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Live blog: Bucs at Dolphins

Live blog: Bucs at Dolphins

Follow our live coverage of the Bucs’ game against the Miami Dolphins this afternoon at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens. You’ll find news, analysis, photos, video and more from Times reporters, columnists and photographers — all in real time. View...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Forecast: Cold front to bring rain, wind gusts to Tampa Bay

Forecast: Cold front to bring rain, wind gusts to Tampa Bay

ST. PETERSBURG — A warm Sunday will be threatened by a few afternoon rain showers and wind gusts up to 20 mph, forecasters predict. 10News WTSPThe latest Tampa Bay-area radar 10News WTSPFeels-like temperatu...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Sunday morning QB, playoff edition

Sunday morning QB, playoff edition

Player of the Week | Michael Penix Jr., Tampa Bay TechPenix, a Tennessee commit, has been good all season and it seems as if he’s getting even better in the playoffs. On Friday night against Palmetto in the Class 7A region semifinals, he was too ...
Published: 11/19/17

Published: 11/18/17
Lightning finds its game too late, loses to Islanders

Lightning finds its game too late, loses to Islanders

TAMPA — The firepower showed up in the third period.Yanni Gourde and Ondrej Palat scored 13 seconds apart. Gourde scored again.Suddenly it was a one-goal game, and the Lightning appeared on its way to one of those comeback wins that would be remember...
Published: 11/18/17
No. 14 UCF rolls Temple 45-19, heads to War on I-4 unbeaten

No. 14 UCF rolls Temple 45-19, heads to War on I-4 unbeaten

PHILADELPHIA — There were so many reasons for UCF coach Scott Frost to worry about his team’s focus. With a huge game against USF looming, playing an improving Temple team in a stadium where the empty seats outnumbered the filled ones by about a 3-1 ...
Published: 11/18/17
Gerald McCoy to Ndamukong Suh: ‘Let them remember us’

Gerald McCoy to Ndamukong Suh: ‘Let them remember us’

TAMPA — In the spring of 2010, one of the biggest debates during the week leading up to the NFL draft was which defensive tackle would be selected first: Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh or Oklahoma’s Gerald McCoy.Both figured to be highly productive NFL pla...
Published: 11/18/17
No. 2 Miami finishes on 30-0 run, tops Virginia 44-28

No. 2 Miami finishes on 30-0 run, tops Virginia 44-28

MIAMI — After Miami clinched the first Atlantic Coast Conference Coastal Division crown in program history, upset the then-No. 3 team in the country, claimed one of the top four spots in the College Football Playoff rankings and after many of the nat...
Published: 11/18/17