CONWAY, Ark. - They say it takes a village to raise a child.
"My parents, neighbors were always helping me with mine," says Jeannie Mattison. Generations know her as Ms. Jeannie.
"I just started keeping neighborhood kids," Mattison explains.
She converted the garage of her Conway home into a daycare.
"One of the first young men I kept is a grown man now. He is a minister. I keep his grandson now," she continues.
Four decades later, Ms. Jeannie's influence goes beyond the preschoolers that fill her home. Mother to an adopted teenage son, she also spends a lot of her day in the kitchen.
"I do not cook a small portion of anything. I just love cooking and serving anybody that wants to come by. My door is always open," she says.
At Ms. Jeannie's, everyone is treated like family.
"She will give them the shirt off of my back, her back and anyone else's back. You won't find anyone like Virginia Mattison," says Dr. Ed Franklin, Mattison's brother-in-law.
Earlier this month she treated her fellow moms in the community to a free Mother's Day luncheon.
"I was determined I was going to do it this year," says Ms. Jeannie.
The first annual event was packed with moms and daughters.
"The people that showed up, just the all out love they showed Ms. Mattison just because of the person she is. She doesn't do anything outside of her character," Franklin adds.
On Friday, KARK and McDonald's of Central Arkansas surprised Jeannie to Pay it 4Ward with $250 in Visa gift cards.
"Thank you all, thank you," she told a crowd of family gathered in her living room.
Mattison plans to use the money for a Father's Day breakfast she's hosting at her home in June.
She says anyone in the community is welcome. If you'd like to attend, or help with the event, call (501) 908-0130.
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