JoeAnn Ballard was born in rural Mississippi. At the tender age of 3 months, her parents separated and she and her two older siblings were placed in the home of a great aunt and uncle. This proved to be the best thing that could have ever happened to JoeAnn. Though the home was financially poor, it was rich in love and commitment to family. It was through her experiences, first as an unwanted child and then as a recipient of another’s sacrificial care, that JoeAnn decided how she wanted to live. Through the years, her foster father lovingly raised over 45 foster children, while shaping JoeAnn into the strong, compassionate woman she would become and is now.
Later in life she attended the Nazarene Bible Institute in West Virginia and later continued her education at the University of Tennessee and Trevecca University, where she received a Ph.D. After completing college in West Virginia, JoeAnn took her first job working with the Memphis South Church of the Nazarene. Her salary was $80.00 a month, half of which went toward room and board and the other half toward the needs of others.
After a short time in Memphis, JoeAnn married Monroe Ballard, a young school teacher who passionately shared her values and determination. Together, they began a ministerial journey to touch and change the lives of young people by displaying their strong Christian values and sharing genuine love. They began bringing needy children into their home. Weekend fellowships turned into a ministry that has spanned across three decades.
Since 1969, the Ballards have been foster parents to 75 children, all of them living with JoeAnn, Monroe and their children in their home. As the word spread in the hurting black community, the Ballard’s modest home began to often fill to capacity with people in need. In 1979, local churches and agencies saw the need for an inner-city ministry and chose Dr. JoeAnn Ballard to be at the helm of what is now the Neighborhood Christian Centers, Inc. (NCC) where she remains today.
Though many call JoeAnn Ballard “exceptional”, her impact of service to more than 100,000 residents annually through the Neighborhood Christian Centers, she insists that anyone who is willing can do what she does. The kindness that she’s shown to so many is the epitome of “compassionate ministry”. It is her dedication to Jesus Christ and her humble spirit coupled with her desire and sincere determination to change lives that JoeAnn continues to impact so many lives today.