PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - “She was everybody’s mama.”
Brittany was a caregiver at a busy daycare in Pascagoula for years before pursuing her dream of being an educator. Recently, she worked as a substitute teacher in the Pascagoula-Gautier School District, handing out smiles and lessons on life along with information from the book. On Sundays and Wednesdays, she volunteered in the nursery at her church, once again caring for other’s children as if they were her own.
Just outside the apartment where Brittany lived with her two children, a small memorial has been placed to honor her. It is subtle, unlike her personality.
“She’s just so outgoing. Me and her just clicked,” said Lauren Merrill, one of Brittany’s best friends. “She’s not shy and neither am I.”
Merrill met Brittany ten years ago while working for a church daycare.
“She was like a sister that I never had,” she said.
Katie Gilbert also met Brittany Moore McCord 10 years ago. In that ten years McCord looked after all three of Gilbert’s children at Ingalls Avenue Baptist Church.
“She was always quick to send us pictures of what our babies were doing at the day care, show us all the milestones that they had made and just share those milestones with us by raising them," Gilbert said.
Now Gilbert and her children are heartbroken.
“My oldest was in the car with me last night when the Amber Alert came on and he was immediately scared,” Gilbert said. “He wanted to know what happened with Ms. Brittany and what happened with her kids because they were all friends.”
Merrill said she has been distraught since finding out about her murder.
“I prayed. I sobbed. I prayed again. My husband had to pick me up off the floor a couple of times,” Merrill said. “I just had to come to work today to get my mind off of it.”
She said Brittany had a strong faith and put God first in her life.
“Anything that happened, anything, she put it in His hands, and she didn’t worry about it. That was my favorite thing about her,” Merrill said. “She always had a spiritual quote. She always had something to uplift me. She was just always positive. She had MS, and she was miserable 99 percent of her day. She still worked, provided for her two babies. She was a great mother, wonderful friend, and she will be missed," she said.
Brittany was also a substitute teacher at Singing River Academy where Gilbert is an administrator. Brittany was in the classroom substituting on Tuesday just hours before she would lose her life. According to Gilbert, Brittany was committed to not just teaching academics but also giving life lessons to her students.
Gilbert says she talked with Brittany on Tuesday and she wishes she could talk to her one more time.
“I would tell her that she was meant to be a teacher, she was meant to be in education and I would tell her how much I appreciated how much she loved on my boys," Gilbert said.
It’s a sentiment that many in Pascagoula are sharing. Social media lit up Wednesday as people remembered Brittany, with most of the posts saying she had cared for their children in some capacity, whether at daycare, church, or in school.
“The whole community loved her, the whole community," said Merrill.
Like Gilbert, Merrill also talked with Brittany frequently.
“I talk to her every day but yesterday I did not," said Merrill. “I just wish instead of going to Walmart, I would have made an attempt to go by there and check on her and call her. I’ll miss seeing her number and her name pop up on my phone.”
Now Brittany Moore McCord’s legacy will live on in the many lives she touched.
“We want to make sure that she’s not forgotten and that her kids will know how good of a mom and person she was," Gilbert said.
With many in the community asking how they can help Brittany and her family, a close friend has set up Go Fund Me to raise money for her funeral. Any leftover funds will go to her two children, 13-year-old Tyler and 2-year-old Genesis.
A candlelight vigil will also be held Sunday at 5:30 p.m. at Beach Park in Pascagoula. Community members will gather to remember the young mother. A speaker will also be present to talk about the dangers of domestic violence. Everyone is welcome to attend and bring candles, balloons, photos, and anything else they’d like to share.