CHESAPEAKE, Va. - To prevent her great nephews from entering the foster care system, 88-year-old Mary Clark from Chesapeake decided to raise them.
13-year-old James and 12-year-old Robert are gifted, smart and talented.
Both boys enjoy sports, music, technology and games.
“They keep me young, and they keep me going all the time,” said Clark.
Clark is the boys' great aunt. She did not want them to be separated in the foster care system, so four years ago she made the decision to raise them herself.
“I said, 'As long as I’ve got a house, you’ve got a house.' I said, 'As long as I’ve got food, you’ve got food,'” said Clark.
Clark's brother is the boys' grandfather. He passed away a few years ago. She showed News 3 pictures of her family and shared stories about growing up on the farm in Suffolk. She said people are shocked to learn that she’s raising children at her age.
“See, my brother, he was good to all of his sisters and the whole family. My mother told us, 'You got to help one another,'” said Clark.
She said she also received help from the community. The group Western Branch Philanthropy donated presents to the boys this past Christmas. The organization provides help to people throughout the community through donations.
“People have been good to me. My church family, my pastor, they’ve been just like a family to me and the community,” said Clark. “Everybody has been good, and I tell them it takes a village to raise children, so I’ve really been blessed with that.”
Clark said she focuses on the things that are important to her.
“We have love for God first, ourselves second, then our family and our friends. We have got to love everybody,” said Clark.