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National Congress of Black Women, Inc., Space Coast Chapter

Juanita Bartley_Mrs Johnnie Mae Smith_ Deloris Collins_Carol Watson

National Congress of Black Women, Inc., Space Coast Chapter

If you missed this 6th anniversary gala, you missed a very emotional, spiritual and special experience. The National Congress of Black Women, Inc., Space Coast Chapter as part of their Women Who Make Difference goals, recognized grandparents who raise their grandchildren. Today’s world is filled with these courageous people who dedicate their lives to raising yet another generation of children.

Mrs. Johnnie Mae Smith of Cocoa who retired from the Rockledge Rehabilitation Center after 31 years as a CNA, not only raised her 10 children but has dedicated much of her life to caring for her grand and great grandchildren. She is currently raising her third set of children. Mrs. Smith says that if she didn’t raise them, they would end up with strangers in foster care or worse and she couldn’t live with that. She says that she loves them too much. Mrs. Smith is grateful to the Lord for His tender mercies.

Ms. Deloris Collins of Melbourne loves to cook and adores her three grandchildren who were placed into her custody several years ago. Ms. Collins says that having her grandchildren under her care has been a mixed blessing but she will never regret the decision to get custody of her grandchildren. Working under the guidance of Mary Ann Sterling at the Grandparents Raising Grandchildren program has been her saving grace. This organization has provided emotional assistance, advice and encouragement to this family for 11 years.

Ms. Collins is thankful to God every day for her blessings and everything he does for her. She says, “These are my only grandchildren and I want to give them a chance to make it in this world with everything they deserve, which is a good life.”

The third in this trio of grandparent recipients is Mrs. Jessie Robinson of Mims Florida. She is a singer, and an anointed Woman of God. In addition, she is an associate board member at the Harry T. & Harriette V. Moore Complex in Mims. Mrs. Robinson is blessed to have 11 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren. She takes care of her two oldest granddaughters. She believes that this keeps her young and active. Since they have been with her, their grades have increased and they love school. Mrs. Robinson has exposed them to museums and volunteering. Her greatest feeling of accomplishment is when her granddaughters came to her and thanked her for loving them and keeping them with her.

Finally, there was a special tribute to a surprised Mrs. Alberta Wilson by the National Congress of Black Women, Inc., Space Coast Chapter for her dedication and commitment not only to the NCBW, but also for her many contributions to our community over the years. Mrs. Wilson was the founder and the previous chair of NCBW. The current chair is Mrs. Juanita Bartley.

Mary Ann Sterling, the Executive Program Director of Grandparents Raising Grandchildren (GRG) of Brevard, was given an opportunity to share information about her organization at the gala. The GRG of Brevard is a community supported, 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that has operated child and family-centered programs in Brevard County for over 20 years. GRG of Brevard strengthens communities through programs that support, serve and protect children and their relative care families through a variety of programs. GRG of Brevard has strengthened families for over 500 grandparents each year at five support group locations provide support, outreach, and prevention services throughout the Brevard County.  These families are voluntarily accessing services needed to help keep their relative care families strong, such as learning to care for a new infant, learning to cope with the stress of parenting again, financial stability, etc. 321-631-7776

The event chair, Mrs. Carol Watson of the Harris-Casel Institute ( (888) 676-4066) and her committee were responsible for planning and implementing the program. Mistress of Ceremonies Dr. Joni Oglesby, of course, was the catalyst that made the program run smoothly on Sunday. Dr. Oglesby is the Chief Diversity Officer/Title IX Coordinator at the Florida Institute of Technology.

Guest speaker Ms. Rosemary McGill delivered a very powerful speech dedicated to the theme, grandparents raising grandchildren. In her talk, she noted that the face of the modern family is changing and grandparents are standing up to accept the challenge. She cited several well-known people who were raised by their grandparents including President Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey. Ms. McGill, herself was raised by her grandmother. She directed the end of her speech to the grandmothers as she said, you are the strength of the family whose hair may be silver but whose heart is gold. You are a gift to these children, given by God, with the ability to change their lives. When it’s God’s time to call, I hope you’ll hear his voice saying, well done thou good and faithful servant.

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