The Dart: She’s a local Good ‘en
By Julia Nagy/The Natchez Democrat
NATCHEZ — Juanita Gooden will also answer to “Lil’ Mama.”
That’s because her house on Natchez Street, where The Dart fell Thursday, is a community center in a way and the neighborhood children are always around. Gooden hosts barbecue dinners. She drives disabled family members and friends to their doctors’ appointments and to the grocery store.
“Anything that does with helping somebody, I do it,” Gooden said. “I think that’s my calling in life.”
The house was destined to be a local hang out. Before Gooden moved to the house in 2010, the neighborhood kids would play in the sand while the contractors were working.
Gooden, who is one of 12 children in her family, said she enjoys having people around.
“This is the house where everybody comes,” Gooden said. “It makes me happy.”
Swaying back and forth in her black rocking chair on her porch, she looked over at her 3-year-old niece Madison Roberts, who was tying her gray sparkled shoes.
“Did I teach you how to do that?” Gooden asked.
Gooden has done a lot for the neighborhood children, welcoming them into her home and feeding them after school.
It’s a place where they can go to wait for their parents to get off of work.
“I like to be nice to everybody,” Gooden said. “You don’t get bored around here.”
Gooden said she also has her hands full with family, helping her 82-year-old mother get around town and her hearing impaired sister Ramona who has survived breast cancer.
Gooden said she admires her sister, because she’s been through a lot in her life.
“Every problem has a solution,” Gooden said. “And if not, then it’s all up to leaving it in the hands of God.”
Gooden’s purpose in life is to help others, she said, and she believes those in need are sent to her for a reason.
“I have people that need help,” Gooden said. “If they come to me, I feel like God sent them here to get help.”