Lesson Of A Lifetime
Kelly Ann Ramsey has a firm focus on the future in everything she does. One of the ways her future-focus manifests positive results is in her work as co-founder of For The Seventh Generation (ForTheSeventhGeneration.org), a community-based volunteer program for the special needs of children who are wards of the juvenile court, just as Maryann Bruder once was.
About this unique, low-overhead program supporting foster children, Ramsey says, “To be truly effective, our juvenile justice system must look beyond the mere survival of the children in our charge. We must recognize that the actions we take today will have an impact far beyond the current generation. How we deal with the most vulnerable children today will affect their progeny for years to come. We must work for the seventh generation.”
She then speaks of the Executive Director of For The Seventh Generation, Lorraine Weber.
“Oh, I love Lorraine Weber!” Ramsey beams. “Oh, my goodness. I have so much respect for her. Tremendous respect.”
The child Ramsey is most proud of? Her daughter, Alexis.
“She’s the best,” Ramsey says of her daughter. “She’s the cat’s meow. She’s beautiful, she’s smart, she’s kind, she’s a great mother. She teaches at the United Nations International School of Hanoi in Vietnam, and I could not be more proud.”
What makes the woman who has no sense of humor laugh?
“My grandsons make me laugh. I’ve been collecting some of their sayings,” she smiles, “recording their cuteness in beautiful personal journals that I bought for each grandson at birth.”
How does anyone rise in our current culture without a support system? For Ramsey, it’s not just about the bottom line.
Ramsey has lived a life dedicated to honoring and creating a legacy, both for her and her family, and all of the people whose lives are impacted by her decisions in court. She encourages all individuals to hold themselves accountable first, and fosters a sense of self-belief, empowering them to take control of their lives through positive intention and action.
When everyone else says there isn’t enough money, or it’s too much work, or there’s too much going on, or it will take too long, Ramsey says ‘I’m willing to do the thing that others are unwilling to do. I’m going to do the uncomfortable thing.’ And in doing so, she differentiates herself from those colleagues who aren’t willing to make the necessary sacrifices, who aren’t willing to do what it takes to create incredible experiences for people, who would rather just sit behind a laptop all day, writing emails, and experience people that way, as opposed to bringing a community together.
Ramsey spends her time doing what is outside the comfort zone of most of her colleagues, that is to say, she reverse-engineers the hopes and dreams of her respondents. She switches their focus from immediate impossibilities to positive potential, and it lasts a lifetime. She teaches her litigants, and all others in her courtroom, that anything is possible through hard work, perseverance, and self-discipline above all.
According to Justin Moscarello, neuroscientist at New York University’s Center for Neural Science, “The world is how you assess it. It’s your belief about your agency that ultimately determines your emotional outcomes.”
By exploring possibilities, by putting herself out there, by stretching, by growing, by doing things that excite her, that scare her, that are meaningful to her, Ramsey is able to impact others.
And she teaches everyone that they can do the same. Because when you step out of your comfort zone, you give people permission to live a great life.
“Everybody knows that I was born and raised in the city of Detroit,” Ramsey says. “My childhood home on Rutherford is still standing tall, and the shutters on the sides of the windows were made by my father.”
Of all the lessons Officer Robert W. Ramsey taught her, if she could only keep one to remember, which lesson would Ramsey keep?
“Be the best I’m capable of being,” Ramsey affirms. “People have more talent, and more ability, than they can possibly imagine. I think that it is a sin to waste your God-given talents. I plan to live every day to the best of my ability.
“What would the impact be if we all lived like this?” Ramsey wonders. “Would we then live in the world that each of us claim we want to live in? Would we not gift our children with the dream we hope for them?
“This takes time…but isn’t someone worth saving worth the time?”
For Ramsey, it’s not about winning votes, it’s about winning hearts and minds.
There are few who work in the judicial system who think, care, and are willing to be patient and follow-up the way Ramsey does — too many are in it to get their pay and go home. Perhaps they got into politics for altruistic reasons, perhaps not. Regardless, many of those who hold titles or positions of power and influence within government have forgotten the true purpose of their respective roles in American democracy. Ramsey has not, and she honors that responsibility day in and day out.
Ramsey has immense pride in knowing that the people whose lives she has impacted with her teaching are still doing what she taught them to do, that she made enough sense to them when it truly mattered, and that their lives are better because of it.
“I have so many things to be proud of,” Ramsey smiles. “Whether it’s my beautiful daughter and grandsons, For The Seventh Generation, or one of my respondents saying ‘if it wasn’t for you, I’d have been dead on the street, and instead I’m a college graduate’, or Maryann Bruder’s letter to Governor Snyder urging him to appoint me to be a Third Circuit Court judge, it’s things like that.”
Ramsey has the love Wayne County needs now. And rather than thinking of it as ‘tough love’, case after case, and experience upon experience, has proven that it is indeed a ‘righteous love’. A love that respects others, holds people accountable to rise to the expectations bestowed upon them, and puts children first. She has a firm focus on the future, always taking time and care to look at everything through the lens of reality.
“I often ask a child in my courtroom,” Ramsey offers, “‘What is the best gift you could ever give your parents?’ Of course, I get the more obvious answers, ‘a new car, a new house’. Without supplying the answer, I carefully guide the respondent, and at some point the light bulb goes on — the best gift a child could ever give their parents is for a child to make their parents proud of them.”
Ramsey recalls her father sitting in the back of her courtroom years ago, holding back tears as he heard his daughter speak to those in front of her using the same words and guidance she learned from him.
“If I was waking up from some drug-induced daze right now, rest assured,” she remarks, “I could come up with a laundry list of excuses for my bad behavior — ‘Poor Kelly, she was just a little girl when her mother became ill, she lost her mother so young, a runaway and pregnant at 17, a high school drop out…’ Yep, the same nonsense I heard from so many, day after day after day.
“Instead, I want my mom, Delphine Ramsey, and my dad…to be proud of me.”
A Judicial Joan Of Arc
“The first problem with the news,” writes Neil Strauss in his October 2016 piece in Rolling Stone, “is that it must be new. Generally, events that are both aberrations from the norm and spectacular enough to attract attention are reported, such as terrorist attacks, mass shootings and plane crashes.
“But far more prolific, and thus even less news-worthy, are the 117 suicides in the U.S. each day (in comparison with 43 murders), the 129 deaths from accidental drug overdoses, and the 96 people dying a day in automobile accidents (27 of whom aren’t wearing seat belts, not to mention the unspecified amount driving distracted). Add to these,” Strauss continues, “the 1,315 deaths each day due to smoking, and the 890 related to obesity, and all the other preventable deaths from strokes, heart attacks and liver disease, and the message is clear: The biggest thing you have to fear is not a terrorist or a shooter or a deadly home invasion. You are the biggest threat to your own safety.”
You are the biggest threat to your own safety. Kelly Ann Ramsey knows this, and gets the individuals in her courtroom to realize it as well.
“It would make logical sense, then,” Strauss concludes, “that if Americans were really choosing politicians based on their own safety, they would vote for a candidate who stresses seat belt campaigns, programs for psychological health to decrease suicide, and ways to reduce smoking, obesity, prescription-pill abuse, alcoholism, flu contagion and hospital-acquired infections.”
Think globally, act locally. Do you believe that investing our time and energy into our children will make the world a better place? We can start right here, right now, by voting for Kelly Ann Ramsey for Wayne County Third Circuit Court Judge. She’s on a crusade for the community.
She’s a judicial Joan of Arc.
“I haven’t burned out. I’m never gonna burn out. I know exactly who I am, and I can work non-stop,” Ramsey declares.
This is the final installment of a seven-part story. To read the story from the beginning, click here.