Palm trees or pine trees, the roar of a fire or the hum of an air conditioner…ask anyone from the south about their plans for the holidays and chances are you’ll be met with a big smile. We southerners are bound by a shared love for family and traditions, and the holidays brings those together like no other time of the year!
Jonnetta and I met a couple of months ago at a luncheon for a mutual girlfriend. I knew three people in the room when I arrived that day, but no matter because I soon found myself drawn into Jonnetta’s orbit, her energy and generous spirit an invisible force pulling me (and everyone else around her) in.
Jonnetta offers a hug and a smile (the real kind that crinkles the eyes) when you first meet. I swear if you look hard enough you can actually see the nurturing energy radiating from her. Her eyes are bright and curious. Her heart and mind are open.
I visited with her last week, and we had so much fun chatting about what it means to be from the south, her favorite holiday traditions and the importance of living in your purpose. Like-minded (and chatty) women that we are, our one-hour interview flowed into almost three as we spoke non stop about her passion for family, food and helping others.
One of the things I admire most about Jonnetta is how she continued to devote herself to her family while building her storied career. She raised two wonderful sons and is the proud grandmother of three gorgeous grandchildren. For seventeen years, she managed the career of her son Usher, navigating the highly competitive world of the music industry. This on-the-job-training in business honed her into the sharp executive she is today, yet she remains incredibly intuitive and nurturing.
This is Jonnetta’s passion and what pulled her out of an almost decade-long retirement. Helping others achieve their success and live in their purpose is the driving force behind J’s Kitchen Culinary Incubator, the state-of-the-art 2,100 square foot facility she created to furnish early-stage business support to culinary entrepreneurs in the Atlanta Metro area that she founded. Its mission is to provide a nurturing environment for serious culinary entrepreneurs of any type while offering affordable culinary business services necessary for long term success.
Success will come and go but integrity will stand forever.
Jonnetta is an inspiration for what can be. Living her purpose by blending her love of entertaining with her entrepreneurial spirit.
It’s no surprise I loved this lady from the get go. A true SuthinGirl by way of Chattanooga, Tennessee, Jonnetta grew up in a wonderfully close family and learned early on the value of respect and positivity.
She continues her family’s tradition of bringing people together for big birthday and holiday celebrations, and gathering the people she loves around her dinner table. I asked this legendary hostess the question all we southern women are proud to answer: What dish are you known for? She smiled and without hesitation answered, Spicy Mac and Cheese! (For the record, I asked her to share her recipe but like a true southern belle, she wasn’t giving it up!!)
Several years ago, Jonnetta and and her family started a new holiday tradition: serving supper at Mary Hall Freedom House. This year, Jonnetta is once again giving her heart and her time to MHFH encouraging others to do the same.
She’s helping connect deserving mothers and children with sponsors to help make their holidays a little bit brighter.
What brings people of all walks of life, income levels, careers, zip codes and viewpoints together during the holidays? It’s not a tree, it’s not a present, it’s not a catchy song… it truly is food! And sadly, many people go without it during a season that is supposed to be joyous. That’s why the J’s Kitchen family is partnering with Mary Hall Freedom House to provide a Christmas dinner and presents for 10 special women and their children.
While we’ve got the cooking covered, please view the list of items requested by the women for their children. Your donation of a toy or clothes will help a local mother grant her child’s Christmas wish.
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