Olmstead Homes woman takes care of her neighborhood

Monday, Dec. 26, 2011 4:01 PM
Last updated 9:18 PM
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A yellow school bus turns the corner into Olmstead Homes housing project, and the driver opens the door for a woman leaning on a walker on the sidewalk.

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Marietta Conner has a background in the military and she often uses military style discipline as she tries to keep chaos to a minimum. Here she barks some orders to children as they break ranks and begin to help themselves to snacks at the back door of her small apartment at the Olmstead Homes.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
Marietta Conner has a background in the military and she often uses military style discipline as she tries to keep chaos to a minimum. Here she barks some orders to children as they break ranks and begin to help themselves to snacks at the back door of her small apartment at the Olmstead Homes.

“Was anybody bad?” Marietta Conner yells, peering into the bus.

As the kids file off, Conner, known as “Momma Doc” for as long as she can remember, spots a boy whose laces on his Nikes are trailing on the ground.

“Drop and give me three push-ups, and you know why!” Momma Doc yells. “Look at your shoes untied! Also, son, I’ve got some socks at home with your name on it,” because he’s not wearing any. “Come see me later.”

Conner, 62, is a neighborhood fixture in Olmstead Homes, known as a disciplinarian, a caretaker, a welcoming soul whose kitchen is always open. Nearly every Friday for 30 years, she has waited for afternoon school buses so she can lead the children to her doorstep where she passes out homemade chili, chicken, hot dogs or sweets to the kids - whatever she finds in her kitchen that afternoon.

Her nickname is a mix between her motherly warmth and her title as ordained minister, and it’s all she is called by.

“She’s real, real known up in here,” said neighbor Patricia Bennett. “She loves them kids. Mm-hmm. And they love her.”

Two Fridays before Christmas, Momma Doc decided to do something different than cooking at home for her kids. She made arrangements with Hot Foods of the CSRA on Broad Street to take a group to the restaurant for a sit-down meal.

After school, she called everyone to the middle parking lot in Olmstead. The children ran from tidy brick houses and stopped where Conner was waiting with her walker and a plan.

She lined 11 children up two-by-two and made them stand like soldiers. Her rules were simple: no yelling, no swearing, no walking out of formation, and when they arrive, boys must open the door for the girls.

“I’m teaching you how to be young men and treat the young ladies, OK?” Conner said. “Can I get an ‘Amen’? I said can I get an ‘Amen’?!”

The children, mostly Garrett Elementary School pupils, listened excitedly.

With the voice of a drill sergeant, Conner started the line.

“Annnnnnnnd your left, left, left right left,” she yelled.

The children stomped their feet, marching and carefully following Conner’s lead as she pushed her walker up Wood Street and turned left on Clark Street.

Residents at on their porches stared at the spectacle as the children marched past homes on the 15-minute walk to the restaurant, singing songs Conner made up as she went along.

“It was hard to keep up and I was excited, but I was thinking she was going to make me do push-ups,” said Deiontay York, 9.

Halfway to the restaurant, when the kids’ tempo got out of sync, Conner stopped the group with a deep, long command.

“OK, girls, give me jumping jacks, and guys, give me push-ups!”

Conner gave the orders as discipline for sloppy marching, but later said she secretly does it to make the children feel good.

“Oh, they want me to tell them to do the push-ups,” she insists. “They like the attention. Them boys know to have their shoes tied and to listen, but they like when I call them out. It makes them feel special.”

When the line arrives at the restaurant, Conner sits the group around tables and barks orders for proper manners. For dinner, the kids get hot dogs, juice and potato chips, all from Momma Doc’s dime and heart.

Conner was born in Cleveland and came to Augusta around 1980 for Army basic training.

After a year of service and an honorable discharge, Conner decided to stay in Augusta because the weather was easy on her bones.

She spent her years driving city buses, working at a butcher shop and cooking for restaurants here and there.

She learned as a youngster to cook from her mother, a seamstress and singer. At age 8, she made her first cake and soon moved on to more complicated meats and dressings.

Growing up, she saw how food affects people. It’s a conversation piece, a comfort, she said. There’s no better feeling than bringing someone a home-cooked meal made in your own kitchen.

When she moved to Olmstead in 1982, Conner started her tradition of passing out food to the kids and elderly.

She lives alone and never had kids of her own, so the community has become her family. It’s not just children she feeds, but senior citizens living in Olmstead and across town.

She used to shuttle meals by stacking plates in her car’s back seat. But since a wreck in 2008, she has had to rely on her scooter or friends to drive her.

On Thanksgiving, Conner woke up around 7 a.m. to cook a 23-pound turkey, string beans, potatoes, carrots, cranberry sauce and sweet potato pie.

Neighbor Jerry Douglas, who is on dialysis and can’t get around the kitchen to cook, was delivered a steaming plate of Thanksgiving food for him and his two sons.

“She look out for everybody in the neighborhood,” Douglas said. “Oh man, I don’t know where she learned, but she’s like a gourmet cook. I don’t eat pasta salad, but I eat hers. She’s good.”

After taking care of her neighbors on Thanksgiving, Conner fixed herself a plate of food and said a prayer alone over a table in her kitchen. She did the same on Christmas, passing out plates of curry chicken, collard greens, macaroni and cheese, corn bread and lemonade. When she finds time after these meal distributions, she curls up in her living room and spends the evening planning her next meal.

“It’s about other people,” she said. “That’s why I do this. It’s not about me, it’s taking care of Jesus’ people.”

Comments (23)

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LouLou
6
Points
LouLou 12/26/11 - 06:25 pm
0
0

I wonder if these neighbors

I wonder if these neighbors appreciate her truly and/or help her with her daily doings/getting about.
I hope so

johnette4
24
Points
johnette4 12/26/11 - 06:42 pm
0
0

Now this is the type of news

Now this is the type of news to spread...its a inspiration to lnow that their are people in the world who have compassion for others!.. God Bless this woman of substance!!

TrulyWorried
9647
Points
TrulyWorried 12/26/11 - 06:55 pm
0
0

How great it would be if

How great it would be if Augusta had more wonderful people like "Momma Doc"! What an inspiration - God bless you - dear Momma Doc - you are truly a gift from Heaven for a lot of these folks in your area. Those children will always remember you the rest of their lives. May they follow your example and become outstanding citizens!

Lkn4Ans
166
Points
Lkn4Ans 12/26/11 - 07:25 pm
0
0

Momma Doc is a beautiful

Momma Doc is a beautiful example of selfless sharing. She is a true inspiration and the world is a better place because of her. As TrulyWorried said, "Those children will always remember...the rest of their lives." God Bless you and keep you in his loving care Momma, just as you keep many of his flock in your loving care.

Edward1968
428
Points
Edward1968 12/26/11 - 07:33 pm
0
0

A great story about a GREAT

A great story about a GREAT lady. The kids and the elderly in that neighborhood are truly blessed to have her as a neighbor. It is too bad that other neighborhoods don't have a "Momma Doc."

myopinion3
0
Points
myopinion3 12/26/11 - 08:00 pm
0
0

This lovely lady wont win any

This lovely lady wont win any Augusta Council awards, and she wont get a crystal trophy from the city but She is sure accumulating blessings while she is on this earth. Her prize will be at Jesus feet. Thank you Maam

Willow Bailey
20240
Points
Willow Bailey 12/26/11 - 08:27 pm
0
0

God Bless Mamma Doc, may our

God Bless Mamma Doc, may our Lord continue to be glorified in her and through her.

tomcampbell
0
Points
tomcampbell 12/26/11 - 09:11 pm
0
0

She was our Time to Care

She was our Time to Care Award winner several months ago. I'm glad she's still doing a mountain of good for the young people in her neighborhood.

InChristLove
21672
Points
InChristLove 12/26/11 - 09:35 pm
0
0

Feeding those kids and doing

Feeding those kids and doing for the elderly like she does can't be cheap. Wonder if there is some way you can donate staple items or money to help her cover the cost of taking care of the neighborhood?

Cadence
219
Points
Cadence 12/27/11 - 12:06 am
0
0

So nice to hear a positive

So nice to hear a positive story.

itsanotherday
0
Points
itsanotherday 12/27/11 - 01:42 am
0
0

God bless this lady. I wish

Unpublished

God bless this lady. I wish there were a million more just like her.

{edit} Just think about it. How many of us can honestly say we make a difference in others' lives like this lady does? She is truly one of God's chosen and someone we could all learn from.

juantez
188
Points
juantez 12/27/11 - 03:36 am
0
0

This is one of the true

Unpublished

This is one of the true meaning of that saying it takes a village.
Ms Conner, thanks for doing what you do.
Thanks AC for a great story

seenitB4
72452
Points
seenitB4 12/27/11 - 06:20 am
0
0

What a lady----if we had one

What a lady----if we had one like her in every neighborhood we wouldn't have much crime...can we clone her?

border drive resident
0
Points
border drive resident 12/27/11 - 08:47 am
0
0

It seems to me she is

It seems to me she is teaching these kids that it is ok to live off the government for almost 30 years. I'm sure she helped out some of the children. A great follow up story would be " Where are they Now?" find some of the children from 20 years ago. I bet 90% are still living under Government programs.

I just don't understand how someone can live in a Housing Project for 29 years and think that is ok. I 'm sure plenty of people are going to disagree with me, ask yourself. Is it ok to take handouts for 29 years? Do you really think she could not find work to pay her own way in life for 29 years!

RogerDavis
7
Points
RogerDavis 12/27/11 - 10:52 am
0
0

If we had more like Momma Doc

If we had more like Momma Doc things would be way different in these urban areas.God Bless You ma'am.

allhans
21928
Points
allhans 12/27/11 - 11:36 am
0
0

I have to say, with all

I have to say, with all respect to the woman who is trying in the only way she knows, and God knows teaching them table manners, and not to follow trends such as untied show laces, can only be doing good... that border drive resident puts forth a good question...

lovingthesouth72
1129
Points
lovingthesouth72 12/27/11 - 12:20 pm
0
0

It's people like this that

It's people like this that make this world a better place. May our Lord reward her abundantly, in this world and the next, for her love, sacrifice, and dedication

iLove
626
Points
iLove 12/27/11 - 12:41 pm
0
0

May God continue to protect

Unpublished

May God continue to protect and provide for this woman!

iLove
626
Points
iLove 12/27/11 - 12:40 pm
0
0

Did the children choose to

Unpublished

Did the children choose to stay in Olmestead homes?
Should she teach them how to fill out a job application and how to drive too?

OR would the simple manners she is teaching provide a foundation for self worth, hard work, and kindness...something MANY adults are missing.

How can you criticize this story?!

TrulyWorried
9647
Points
TrulyWorried 12/27/11 - 01:18 pm
0
0

There will always be people

There will always be people that only see the negative side of things. And if one reads the story properly he/she can realize that this lady worked in various positions until she had this crippling accident in 2008.
Minimum wages can enable you to live at Olmstead Homes. I have never seen the place look run down or heard very much about any trouble. "Border" try walking in some of their shoes!! THEN make your comments!!

corgimom
19185
Points
corgimom 12/27/11 - 01:38 pm
0
0

borderdriveresident, please

borderdriveresident, please read the story again.

She walks with the aid of a walker. What job would you like for her to have?

She is disabled.

And take a look at this-
"She spent her years driving city buses, working at a butcher shop and cooking for restaurants here and there."

That is called the WORKING POOR.

Here's a reality check- there are lots and lots of people out there who work all of their lives but don't have a lot of money. And those people are a lot more common than you think.

Shame on you.

stillamazed
1488
Points
stillamazed 12/27/11 - 01:57 pm
0
0

Wonderful story, bless this

Wonderful story, bless this woman for what she does, and corgimom, your comment is absolutely correct. Not everyone who lives in the project have never worked, my great grandmother lived in the projects after her husband died and she worked hard all of her life, it was a safe place back then for her to live on her limited income.

allhans
21928
Points
allhans 12/27/11 - 02:16 pm
0
0

The problem (?) border had

The problem (?) border had was that she has resided there since she was 32 years old. That's all, folks.
I don't think there was criticism in regard to her helping those who probably have no other mentoring in their young lives.

scoopdedoop64
2235
Points
scoopdedoop64 12/27/11 - 03:03 pm
0
0

Blessings to Momma Doc! This

Blessings to Momma Doc! This is what it means to be Christ to others!

bjphysics
36
Points
bjphysics 12/27/11 - 03:24 pm
0
0

A Modest Proposal “‘A Modest

A Modest Proposal

“‘A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People in Ireland From Being a Burden on Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Publick’, commonly referred to as A Modest Proposal, is a Juvenalian satirical essay written and published anonymously by Jonathan Swift in 1729. Swift suggests that impoverished Irish might ease their economic troubles by selling their children as food for rich gentlemen and ladies. This satirical hyperbole mocks heartless attitudes towards the poor, as well as Irish policy in general.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Modest_Proposal

GaStang22
910
Points
GaStang22 12/27/11 - 04:37 pm
0
0

With all fairness to those

Unpublished

With all fairness to those questioning living on the dole for 30 years, the accident was in 2008. No kids, working, then why in public housing for the 25+ years before that is their question. Why does a 33 year old working person with no kids need public housing..... this is how this mess got started. Feeding and teaching manners is great, but also setting a good work ethic and taking care of your own as an example is all they were trying to say IMO. The story doesn't fill in the blanks, just appears to justify their good qustions. =)

harley_52
19523
Points
harley_52 12/27/11 - 07:15 pm
0
0

From the information

From the information available, we can't really know what Marietta Conner's work life was about, nor everything we might like to know about how, or why she lived where she lived. That information was not presented.

What we do know is that Marietta Conner is spending her time being a positive influence on some young, poor children who are better off because they met her and are appreciative of what she teaches them about what good people do and how they help others along the way.

To me, all of that is good and I applaud her for doing it.

corgimom
19185
Points
corgimom 12/27/11 - 08:20 pm
0
0

"Why does a 33 year old

"Why does a 33 year old working person with no kids need public housing..... this is how this mess got started. "

Obviously, there were reasons- she was honorably discharged from the Army after a year of service. That usually means medical issues.

The sad reality in this country is that if you have medical problems, you are fresh out of luck.

While I don't know, my guess is that she tried to work over the years but she had chronic medical issues and couldn't work full time.

That's exactly whom public housing is supposed to be for.

itsanotherday
0
Points
itsanotherday 12/27/11 - 10:42 pm
0
0

Yes CM, there are people in

Unpublished

Yes CM, there are people in our society who are truly in need of assistance ; both financial and medical. They are a small minority though and should be the ones our attention is focused on. The Dems are trying to turn healthcare upside down and socialize it because of the 20% who don't have some type of coverage.

Dipshot
-5
Points
Dipshot 12/28/11 - 03:29 pm
0
0

I wish we could clone Momma

I wish we could clone Momma Doc and put her in every neighborhood in Augusta. This lady is an inspiration. Awesome story Chronicle! More stuff like this PLEASE!

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