I have to start by saying that although I’ve known her for many years, I didn’t know this awesome woman’s last name until we became friends on social media. To me, and I’m certain to most people who know her, she’s Mama Jen! She’s the devoted wife of Mr. Dave, a mother and grandmother, but this week’s Power Mom is also a mama to our entire community. Not surprisingly, she’s one of the two determined women responsible for The Community Book Center, a treasure on historic Bayou Road in New Orleans.
Alongside Mama Vera (another awesome woman), Mama Jen continues building the community by welcoming locals and tourists, educating people of all ages, hosting cultural events, sharing words of wisdom, and cracking jokes while managing the book store.
One of my children spent much of this summer with Mama Jen as a founding member of the Black Girls Literary Society. Twice a week my daughter, and at times her friends and my other children, along with whoever showed up at the store and decided to join the discussion, met with Mama Jen to discuss the short stories in the book “Memories of Kin.”
I asked my daughter to share a few things that make Mama Jen such a mother to the community. She said, “Well, she always makes sure you ate. She’s good at telling jokes and she’s always in a pleasant mood even when someone bothers her. Also, she can be funny and silly but she’s serious when it’s important.”
In my opinion, Mama Jen’s superpower is building and balancing. I was struck by my daughter’s statement that Mama Jen can be both silly and serious. I’ve often observed her being both at the same time – delivering an important message that builds the listener while balancing the message with humor. She reminds me of the best comedians – those who make us laugh while making meaningful observations that cause us to consider what we might have otherwise ignored. Please help me salute a precious gem to the New Orleans community, this week’s Power Mom, Jennifer Turner!