PETERSBURG, Va. -- One Petersburg woman is proving simple acts of kindness can change many lives. She is known affectionately as Momma Mack and she has dedicated her life to helping some of the most vulnerable people in our community - children in need. What Dr. Janice Mack has provided is lots of love and a hand up. For more than three decades Dr. Janice Mack was the driving force at the Children’s Home of Virginia Baptists in Petersburg. The home was the saving grace for boys and girls who were on the fringes of society and who were dealt a difficult hand. Momma Mack started volunteering in the early 1970’s and rose to become executive director. At the home, children found a roof over their heads, clothing, food and most importantly lots and lots of love compliments of Momma Mack and her staff.
"You’ve got to love them," Mack said. "You can’t blame them for the predicament that they’re in. You’ve got to start building from the moment you get them. It doesn’t happen overnight."
Friend and former colleague Mildred Tucker said the job was Dr. Mack’s calling.
"I don’t know if you can put a quantity or limit on the amount of love that is there," Tucker said. "I don’t think there are words to describe how special she is."
During her tenure at CHVB, the North Carolina native, shepherded hundreds of children. Her lesson was always the same, "believe in yourself."
Jasmine Tucker, who came to the home at the tender age of two, said Dr. Mack provided a sense of normalcy and family when none existed.
"She kept encouraging us. She said to be more. To do more. She is just a good woman," Tucker said. "She opened up a lot of doors for children who had less."
Tucker shudders at the thought without Mack in her life. Now 25, Jasmine said she will carry a part of Momma Mack wherever she goes.
"She gave us hope. She gave us opportunities. She believed in us. She is an awesome woman. Let me tell you," Tucker said. "She pretty much was there for us. She listened to us. She encouraged us. She never yelled at us."
Ten years after Mack retired the accolades keep piling up. No matter if it’s her own great-grandchildren or boys and girls from the home, as long as she is surrounded by children Momma Mack is rich beyond measure.
"It is most rewarding. It is most inspiring. That you had an opportunity to help mold a person’s life," she said.
Momma Mack retired in from the Home in 2005, but she never really left. Dr. Mack is still in touch with many of the hundreds of children she helped along the way. Jasmine left the home studied at John Tyler Community College and became a Surgical Technician. Jasmine landed a job in the operating room at an area hospital in November. She credits Momma Mack with her success.
Greg McQuade and CBS 6 News are featuring local heroes in a weekly “Heroes Among Us” segment. Watch Greg’s reports Thursdays on CBS News at 6 or here on WTVR.com. If you would like to nominate someone to be featured on “Heroes Among Us,” click here to email firstname.lastname@example.org.