Harrison County Deputy helps family in finding a home

JJ Coleman
JJ Coleman

By A.J. Giardina - bio | email

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Meet 4-year-old JJ Coleman. Sgt. S.J. Marengo contacted Action Reporter A.J. Giardina last week after he met JJ at the Harrison County Court House on Friday. JJ's great grandmother, Shirley Kelly, has been raising JJ for three years and was granted full custody on Friday.

"I saw JJ and something like that kind of snaps and gets you, and he stole my heart," Marengo said. "Everybody in the hallway had to come out and see him. He just ate it up. He's quite a young man, quite a little fellow, and I got more blessing out of it then he did."

Kelly says her great grandson was born three months premature on September 4th, 2005. He suffers with Spinda Bifida, has club feet, extended knees and has a stint in his head. Kelly says she's trying to do the best she can in raising JJ and two teenage grandchildren. They all live in a cramped travel trailer on her brother's property in Harrison County.

"When I got the MEMA cottage, they told me I had to move out of it, and they wanted to know if I wanted to buy it," Kelly said. "I told them yeah. And they told me how much the insurance was going to be, and I said I can't afford that because my money won't let me do it."

Kelly says the money the family receives from Social Security isn't enough to afford to buy and insure her MEMA cottage or much of anything else.

Kelly said, "I get $390. My two children get a $137 apiece. He gets $445, and by the time I buy, well, mostly I have to run him to the doctors all the time, that's gas money. And buy tires for the car and buy groceries, but I do get food stamps. But that's not enough to feed them all."

Sgt. Marengo said, "Something had to be done. Something had to be brought to the attention of the people because this lady is super taking care of him."

"Of course we all got together and made his little ramp and like to bust my rear end on it last year," Kelly said with a laugh. "I can't afford to hurt my legs on account of him, but I just need something, another MEMA cottage, or something I could put out here."

A.J. contacted Mercy Housing and Human Development Executive Director Sara Landry. She says her organization will receive more than 300 cottages for six different rental projects along the coast, and Landy promised to place Shirley Kelly in the program.

She's hopeful Mercy Housing can setup a cottage on Kelly's brother property, so JJ can have a solid roof over his head.

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