Vicksburg, Mississippi— Roberta Bell, 58, is not just a grandmother to five of her eight grandkids, she’s also a hero to many. Her life took an unexpected turn earlier this year, showing the world the power of kindness and determination.
Roberta worked as a correctional officer at the Louisiana Transitional Center for Women, where she met Katie Bourgeois, a pregnant inmate nearing the end of her sentence. When Katie gave birth, there was no family to care for her newborn. Without hesitation, Roberta stepped in, agreeing to take care of the baby until Katie was released.
However, her decision came with a cost. Roberta’s supervisor at the prison saw this as a conflict of interest and she was let go from her job. But for Roberta, it was a small price to pay. Within a week of her firing, Katie’s baby boy, Kayson, was born. Roberta was there at the hospital, ready to welcome him. She dressed him, held him, and took him home, loving him as her own.
For two months, Roberta cared for Kayson until Katie was released and came to collect her son. It was a bittersweet moment for Roberta, who had grown attached to the baby. Despite the challenges, Roberta’s story of compassion spread far and wide.
People from all over started sending gifts – diapers, baby formula, and more. Her living room was overflowing with kindness from strangers. Even more amazingly, donations poured in, totaling $90,000. Roberta, who had taken a job sorting cans after losing her position, used some of this money to help another pregnant inmate in need.
Roberta’s journey didn’t stop there. She’s now channeling her passion into a new project: the Serenity House. This home, set in rural Mississippi, is being remodeled to become a transitional space for women leaving prison. Roberta’s vision is to create a place where these women can find support and encouragement, a continuation of the work she loved so much at the prison.
As the year draws to a close, Roberta is busy preparing the Serenity House. Her phone rings with calls from women who need her help, and she’s more than ready to answer. Her story is a testament to the incredible impact one person can have, driven by love, compassion, and an unshakeable belief in second chances.
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