Memphis Mom Touches the Lives of 75 Foster Kids

Photograph of JoeAnn and some of her foster children. (Image via USA TODAY)

For more than four decades, Dr. JoeAnn Ballard graciously fostered over 70 children in her home in Memphis, Tennessee. JoeAnn and her late husband, Monroe Ballard, began serving a delicious dinner every Sunday night from their cozy home in North Memphis.

What We Know:

  • JoeAnn stated what began as a weekly visit for many of these foster children, turned into overnight and weekend visits, and even more further down the line permanent. It was always an open invitation where at least 20 individuals from the world would show up a week.
  • The couple opened their humble home to every child in need, no matter where they came from, and welcomed them with a warm embrace. From the years 1968 to 2008, the Ballard’s identity shifted to “Mama JoeAnn” and “Daddy Monroe” for 75 orphans. These orphans were often victims of abuse, runaways, and younger adults in need of assistance.
  • JoeAnn was born in Mobile, Al., however, grew up in Lucedale, Miss. She was also a foster child. “I was in foster care from the time I was six months old,” she stated. “My foster parents had already supported 45 children over a long period of time when my brother and sister and I got there.”

  • Despite her grim backstory of being abandoned as a toddler, JoeAnn still went on to have a decent life, much of which she has attributed to her stellar foster mother and father. JoeAnn later moved to Memphis in the summer of 1965 when she was only 21, after graduating from the now-former Nazarene Bible Institute in Charleston, WV, where she studied ministry and social work.
  • According to the Washington Post, nowadays, JoeAnn lives in a house with “one faculty pupil whom she help”. Overall, she misses the busy nature of tending to everyone. She thoroughly enjoyed watching many of these underprivileged youth discover peace and stability.
  • “If I could still do it, I would,” stated JoeAnn, who suffers from joint issues. She has also been known to arrange family reunions every so often. The most recent get together was unfortunately postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, they all remain in contact.

JoeAnn frequently states she is the mother of over 70 of these kids she’s helped over the years, and rightfully so. “If something happens, they call me. If they have babies, I’m the one who is there. If they go to the hospital, I am the one who is sleeping by the bed,” she said.