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CLEVELAND (WJW)– FOX 8 News is recognizing Remarkable Women in our communities. Throughout Women’s History Month, we will highlight four local women who inspire, lead and forge the way for other women.

Barbara Bradford-Williams helps children of the Slavic Village neighborhood with a meal, time with friends and of course fun. Barbara runs JB’s Lunch and Literacy, which is also known as the Funhouse, because that is where the kids want to be.

“We make sure when the kids come in, if they need any help, we’re right here helping them,” Barbara Bradford-Williams said.

She said she always liked to help children in her neighborhood, but it was the pandemic that showed her just how deep her community of hurting. When restaurants had to shut down dining rooms, her carryout place struggled too. While she was struggling, she saw the children in her neighborhood were having an even tougher time. They were a lot of children out and many who weren’t eating every day.

“We started off bagging 300 meals every day, whether it was a sandwich, whether it was an apple, orange with a bag of Cheerios. However we made it work,” Bradford-Williams said.

At one point, Bradford-Williams and her restaurant crew were making and giving out more than 500 lunches a day, not only in Slavic Village but in Mount Pleasant and neighborhoods on the west side.

But she need a place to do all this because people were packing her restaurant. So she rented an old convenience store down from her place and turned it into the neighborhood place to be.

“What our mission is for every kid that needs some type of attention, whether it’s food, whether it’s learning, whether it’s to come and get out the house and play, we want to open the doors to them,” Bradford-Williams said.

There’s Zumba, but there’s also reading and homework, which everyone must do if they’re doing to come here.

“We study with them, we read with them,” she said. “We may have a seventh-grader who’s helping a second-grader. Not only are we providing the services and let the school-agers get familiar with helping the younger students as well.”

Bradford-Williams said keeping children off the street and fed is key to helping her neighborhood because idle minds and empty stomachs can lead kids down the wrong path.

Need school uniforms? They find them.

Need Christmas toys and a visit from Santa? They get it done.

Bradford-Williams said they are determined to bring whatever resources they can to their community and help parents get through when things are hard. And JB’s Lunch and Literacy does it every day.

“They need somewhere to go, somebody, they can trust, somebody who is helping them, somewhere they can get the resources school supplies, bookbags. We do it all,” she said.

Right now, they can only bring 15 to 20 masked children each day to help keep them spaced out, but everyone who shows up gets food to eat. She said she wants to do more because there is so much more she could do since the need is so great.

“This facility is for children who can’t get day care and need somewhere to go. The only thing we did was show them love and let them have fun,” Bradford-Williams said.