She says Baker loved kids, so Bracey wanted to create a nonprofit that would honor her through helping families who have children with chronic illnesses such as asthma and catastrophic ones such as leukemia.
After the Mississippi Secretary of State's office granted 501c3 status in 2016, Aunt Joyce's Kids became an active organization, with a mission to provide educational, financial and domestic assistance to parents of sick children.
Bracey says that starting a nonprofit was a huge undertaking, as she had never done anything like that on her own; however, she says that she already had an understanding of the work that it would entail and had some experience in the world of nonprofits after years of volunteering with other organizations.
Aunt Joyce's Kids offers services in areas such as financial assistance, counseling and parent-support groups and mentoring, and educational resources such as afterschool care and tutoring.
Currently, 45 to 50 kids and their families in Holmes and Quitman Counties are receiving help through the organization in a variety of ways, including rental assistance, afterschool tutoring and caregiver respite.
Bracey says that the nonprofit needed small groups to gather data on, and those counties have a high incidence of children who are on Individualized Education Plans, which indicates that they have special needs.
"We cater to the needs of caregivers, but our focus is always the needs of children and the family as a whole unit," Bracey says.
She says that one of the families that they were able to assist in Natchez, Miss., had a 3-year-old with kidney, liver and heart problems, and needed help with money for travel, groceries and oxygen restoration while the child underwent treatments, and eventually went blind.
"I also helped this family's other children with homework over the phone because the mother had to be away from home so often," Bracey says.
As a doctoral student at Walden University, Bracey has made her passion for helping others the focal point of her dissertation. Her research centers on the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and the experience of caregivers of chronically ill children in Mississippi with the ACA.
Bracey and her husband, Santore Bracey, have five children.
For more information or to volunteer, visit auntjoyceskids.org or find the organization on Facebook.