The Atlanta Journal Constitution has a regular column that highlights good news! People send stories about an act of kindness or caring that they have witnessed, or been the recipient of, nominating others for the Good Neighbor award.

What an all around blessing this is! Readers are blessed by the heartwarming stories, the person who sends the story is blessed by this public recounting of a moment of goodness and gratitude, and the person who is nominated for the award is touched that the writer took the time to formally and public acknowledge them!

It is just this sort of dynamic value that drives the vision of To Be A Blessing. We are grateful that Juanita, a freelance writer, shared this tender story, which originally appeared in the 7/11/03 edition of the AJC.

The Lesson

by Juanita McDowell

Marietta, Georgia

Last month I received a precious lesson around the swimming pool when my kids participated on the Marlins Swim Team. Curious moms like myself stepped out of our SUVs and minivans and stared with wide-eyed wonder at a woman driving an old Caddy, eight children in tow.

Her name is Lynn Clater but many of us simply referred to her as, "The mom with eight kids." Everyone, the husbands included, could picture the dishwater blonde with this colorful brood of children—Asian, black, white and somewhere in between. The seemingly close-knit group of all clean, smiling siblings looked like family.

We leaned our heads in twos, our eyes on their entrance, their departure, speculating that she was a foster parent. Regardless, we were amazed by her patience and kindness and touched by the mutual love that flowed so easily between all of them.

"Mama, look at my backstroke!" one of them would yell, and with a kind of delicate grace she'd sashay toward the blue waters packed with kids, most often with an eight-month-old strapped around her waist and a two-year-old on her heels.

"Great! I see ya, sugar," she'd bellow over the tumult.

One day, curiosity got the best of me and I boldly asked her how she came to mother so many children. I was surprised to find that she was not a foster parent, received no government funds, but years ago decided to start Noah's Ark Children's Ministry, Inc. in her home, to care for children of imprisoned mothers.

"But why so many?" I asked her, especially after discovering she had abandoned a high-paying job and her husband had suffered heart problems.

Her good-natured response was, "Why not? We live by faith and God always provides."

For her faith and her commitment, for her love and dedication, I'd like to bestow the good neighbor award on Lynn Clater of Marietta. Thank you, Lynn, for showing my family and others what happens when you open up your home and heart and extend love and caring for the good of many.


Juanita has begun to collect donations to help Lynn and her husband Joe with their ministry.While the Clater's do not 'solicit' funds, unexpected donations are generally applied toward education and/or transportation. They have some good supplies of nice used clothing and a person providing the back to school supplies. Some of the things that would really support their efforts are:

  • Store gift cards so the older children can shop for some new things before school — don't we remember how WE felt getting to buy a few new things and wearing them to school!
  • Diapers! Sizes three and four.
  • Help getting the younger children into preschool programs — there's waiting lists for the public programs and private schools are generally fee based. Their 3 and 4 year olds went to private preschool last year courtesy of a single donor contribution that covered their entire year's tuition!
  • Transportation that is economical to drive and in great shape mechanically - either by repairing or replacing their current transportation.
  • Continuing prayer.

If you are interested in supporting this effort, contact Juanita at or Lynn at


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