It was a quiet sunny day when photographer Jackie Molloy pulled up to the McCoy family home located in Rochester N.Y. “She’s here!” shouts one of the seven children, Jaclyn later being led in by one of the girls named CoCo.
This morning is a typical one, mother Trelawney McCoy shouting, “time check” to her kids, which she later explains as “the kids keep me on schedule so I’m not running late.” It’s Sunday so the family is heading to Faith Temple, a community church. The McCoy family pile into their van along with one of the son’s girlfriends, continuing their Sunday routine.
Trelawney McCoy and other single mothers raising children have a lot in common. They are hard working, possess busy schedules, and put their children’s needs in front of their own. What sets Trelawney’s family apart from the rest is seven of her eight children are adopted from foster care. “I think once I meet the children, I fall in love with them right then and there,” said Trelawney when she appeared on “The Kelly and Michael Show,” in the segment, “Unstoppable Moms.”
The McCoy family live in a suburban area located in Monroe County. As reported by MonroeCounty.gov, the County has approximately 1,100 children in foster care. The children are of various races and range from birth to 18 years old. According to their website, “Children enter foster care as a result of abuse and/or neglect, or as a voluntary placement. The need for foster and foster/adoptive homes is great. “
At 49 years old, Trelawney is mother to Brittany McCoy age 28 (her eldest and only biological child who now lives on her own), Kendall Robinson age 13, Sanaria Robinson age 10, CoCo McCoy age 8, Imani McCoy age 9, Kwaymayne Hardy age 18, Rasheen Hardy age 17, and Tyrese Hardy age 16. All of the children who share the same last names are blood related. Trelawney knew she wanted to extend her family in the year 2000, when her divorce from Brittany’s father was officially finalized after seven years of separation. Some of the children were still infants before Trelawney was able to adopt them from foster care.
In Monroe County an astounding 75% of Black or African American families living in single-parent homes according to ACT Rochester, a community indicator program for the greater Rochester area. In this county alone, 22% of families live in poverty and the rate of violent crimes has increased 26% from the year 2000 to 2013. Though the statistics of their hometown stand against them, the McCoy family remains a close-knit family, always keeping their faith and the presence of God in their lives. Like most families, the children complete chores such as taking out the trash or mowing the lawn. Trelawney is extremely active in her household, often helping the girls with their hair,nails, and being an active participant in her children's daily activities.
The older children are taught to look after the younger children when their mother is unavailable, a lesson Trelawney instilled within them. She also encourages them to complete community service activities like “Clean Sweep” where this year over 3,000 volunteers participated in helping to clean city properties, remove graffiti, repair sidewalks, and even fill in potholes.
Every Sunday the McCoy family attends church at Faith Temple where Trelawney also teaches Sunday school every two months. After attending church, the family has Sunday dinner with their extended family that live nearby. The dinner usually takes place at grandma Ethel Clancy’s home, Trelawney’s mother who is now 70 years old. The families always say a prayer before eating their dinner, making sure these nights are filled with “laughter and soul food.”
During the week, Trelawney works at the University of Rochester, assisting teen mothers with their every-day needs. While at work, the children stay at their grandmother Ethel’s house except Kwaymayne who stays and watches over their family home. Since the passing of Ethel’s husband in December, the children spend a lot of time in their grandmother’s house including sleeping there during the week to keep her company. The children complete their homework together afterschool until Trelawney picks them up after work.
It is clear that Trelawney McCoy is a true testament to the words loving mother. She continues to prove statistics wrong for families living in Monroe County and shows that families living in this area are more than just another statistic. The love Trelawney has for her children, biological or otherwise, is evident in every role she takes for them whether that means a matriarch of the family or a teacher for independence and faith. Trelawney McCoy is an inspiration for all mothers and shows that one woman can do it all.
For my Photo Editing II Class, I was given the position of photo editor for photographer Jaclyn Molloy's story on the McCoy family. Jaclyn's take consisted of 2,336 images, which was later edited down to 24 images. This edit focuses on Trelawney's role as an independent mother and how she instills those same values in her children. The addition of statistics was incorporated in this project to showcase how people are more than just a number. Monroe County, the area in which the McCoy family lives, is infamous for being above the N.Y. state average for many areas including poverty and crime rate. With statistics like these it is easy to give up on a community that seems trapped in crisis. The McCoy family exemplifies the fact that communities such as Monroe County are not beyond help.