Local woman helping kids is forced to close her door
CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- A local woman who opens up her home to more than a hundred disadvantaged kids, is being forced to close her door.
The housing authority says her home is too small and poses a safety risk.
The after-school program is called "club Jesus".
For the last two years, it's been held inside 55-year-old Josephine Wortham's home.
She says she's now heartbroken to be turning kids away. After the Chattanooga Housing Authority told her it's not safe to have so many children in such a small space. But she says she's not giving up.
Wortham moved to Emma Wheeler Homes two years ago. She says with all the crime that surrounded the community, she knew it was her calling to help the children living there.
"I made a promise to the children they told me. They said Mrs. J., you're just going to go away just like everybody else goes away," says Wortham.
Keeping kids out of trouble and doing well in school.
"She is fun and she likes to help people," says Ja'siah Springs.
"Mrs. J is real nice and she lets people in her house," says Jarvis Sutton. "She helps us on out math and homework.
Wortham also teaches them how to garden and life lessons along the way.
"We teach them to look at the plants as your life," says Wortham.
But now, that's come to a halt. With more than a hundred children coming and going from her home throughout the evening, the Chattanooga Housing authority says it's too small a space to be safe.
"Now we have to tell the children they can't come," says Wortham.
"I'm mad because they want Mrs. J to move and I don't," says Sutton.
"My community is angry with me and I don't understand why they're angry with me. I didn't do anything. I fought," says Wortham.
She's gone to several places asking for help, and finally found some.
Club Jesus will pick back up in mid January at St. Phillip Lutheran Church. She says her community is hurting in the meantime, but knows hers mission isn't over.
"I don't want to move because if I move, then I won't be available for that 1 in the morning call if one of the kids need me," says Wortham.
Emma Wheeler Homes is one of Chattanooga's largest public housing communities.
The housing authority has not gotten back to us on why this has just recently become an issue, but did tell our partners at the Times Free Press they offered to help Mrs. Wortham.