Nedburn Thaffe, Gleaner Writer
SHE WAS hailed as one of the toughest crime fighters in the Kingston Central police division where she tackled the monster in a most unusual manner.
She did it without the aid of a ballistic vest or any form of weapon used by the police.
"She did it with her bare hands," stated Dudley Mais, retired inspector of police for the Gold Street Police Station, who was one of several persons gathered at the Institute of Jamaica (IOJ) building in downtown Kingston on Monday to shower praises on central Kingston's matriarch, Joy 'Mama Joy' Baker moments after she had been awarded the Order of Distinction, Officer Class on the lawns of King's House.
Mama Joy, as she is known by hundreds of children and adults throughout central Kingston, was awarded for service to the development of inner-city communities and the fostering of children.
At the IOJ building, which saw persons from all walks of life turning out to shower praises, many recalled how during her early days, she took the children of central Kingston under her wings, catering to their social and spiritual needs.
A humble woman who was regarded as almost penniless, she quickly earned the respect of the business community, which rallied around her to support her cause.
Her efforts took her to the doorsteps of scores of business establishment as she sought funding to send hundreds of children to school; many of whom sprung from disadvantaged households.
During an earlier interview with The Gleaner this year she recounted how she would pad her knees "clean out bar, and wash sailor clothes" to earn the money to cater for the children.
But for Inspector Mais, the image of her turning up at the Gold Street Police Station with a "brood of children" has stood out in his mind over the years, as she ensured that the children learned from early to develop a relationship with the police.
"She would have about 20 or 30 of them behind her, she would cater for them going and coming throughout the community. Mama Joy experience there joined up with us at Gold Street Police Station have done a magnificent job here and contribute significantly to the cutting of crime," Mais said of the 64-year-old matriarch.
Good financial management
Terrence Allen who worked in the banking sector recalled her efforts to ensure that the children understood the importance of good financial management. This would see her "opening hundreds of bank accounts".
"She would always come and give me a report as to who is doing well and which one of them has gone on to George's (St George's College) and so on. I have never seen someone so enthusiastic about children, it is very hard to find people like," he said.
As she fought back tears recounting the times travelling from Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre to the Grand Gala and throughout the rest of Kingston with her "brood" over the years, Joy Baker remained grateful for one simple thing.
"I do a lot of things, but the greatest thing that I appreciate most of all is that the Almighty has given me strength."