Granny\'s House Founder Reflects on Mission

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COLUMBIA - The sound of silence is a rare occurrence at Granny's House in Columbia. On a regular day, the small house located in Columbia's public housing neighborhood is filled with children from a variety of age groups. During the school holiday break, the screen door to Granny's House stayed shut. But that did not mean "Granny Pam" was not inside working hard.

"Technically, we are closed for winter break, but I am always here working," Granny's House founder Pam Ingram said. Ingram created Granny's House 12 years ago to cater to the needs of youth in public housing. She said there were no programs in the area for kids, and she and an army of volunteers were glad to fill the void. Now her program is one of Columbia's most popular after-school programs. It is so popular that most kids in the neighborhood know Ingram as "Granny" or "Granny Pam."

"Grandmothers are associated with patience, love and kindness, and we wanted (Granny's House) to be an atmosphere of patience, love and kindness for the kids in this area," Ingram said.

Creating a program for kids in public housing is also familiar territory to Ingram because she, too, grew up in a public housing facility. "I know what it's like to live in poverty, we were the working poor," Ingram said.

But Ingram's background did not stop her from pursuing an education at the University of Missouri. She said she teaches the same mindset to kids in her program today. "Our mission is to nurture and inspire public housing children," Ingram said.

Children that attend Granny's House after school said they appreciate all of Granny Pam's hard work. Shaquan Davis started going to Granny's House when he was six years old. Now he's 16 and still participates every day. He said one of the main reasons he participates in Granny's House is because of the strong friendships he has made over the past 10 years. Davis said he also goes to Granny's House for advice from Granny Pam.

"She is a big support. She encourages us to be the best that we can. We can talk to her about anything. She will always give us constructive criticism, but she won't criticize you," Davis said. "She encourages us to be better people, and to think about the choices we make."

The feeling of love and respect is mutual between Ingram and the children. "Granny's House is my life," Ingram said. "To think that hundred of kids have come through the door. There's never been a kid I didn't love."

Kids flocked to Granny's House after the first day of school in January. The small house came back to life with the sounds of children talking and the screen door opening and closing with every new child who entered. Granny Pam said she does not plan on stopping this program anytime soon.