About 200 Hinds Community College employees volunteered March 11 at 13 nonprofit sites in Jackson, Clinton, Vicksburg, Brandon, Utica and Pelahatchie as part of the second Hinds CARES Day.
Volunteers once again cleaned, mopped and organized working space, among other tasks, for area agencies providing vital human services to a public with whom they were eager to work.
“It’s important for us to be here because it helps the community,” said Vanessa Shiers, Adult Education Navigator at the Vicksburg-Warren Campus and volunteer team leader at Good Shepherd Community Center in Vicksburg. “It’s great that Hinds gives us this opportunity during our work day to give back to the community like this. This community center provides services people need – they have a food pantry, medical services and day care services for young children.”
Increasing the college’s visibility as a source of help for organizations that help low-income families and all who struggle with food insecurity was on the minds of many volunteers.
“Giving back is something I love to do,” Damien Thomas, Director of Student Support Service at the Utica Campus and volunteer at Good Samaritan Center in Jackson. “When we come together, people see the bigger picture of what we want to do for the community.”
Staff with the various nonprofits emphasized the need for human capital when it comes to helping others.
“As a nonprofit, we don’t have a lot of staff,” said Sandra Cupstid, manager of the NUTS retail store at the Good Samaritan Center. “So to have people come in, care and help us do what they do is a tremendous help to us. We couldn’t function as an organization without volunteers.”
Volunteers also assisted at Vicksburg Family Development, on Monroe Street, where the youth-oriented program’s sensitive client files were moved into safe, secure containers, among other clerical help provided by Hinds employees.
“This is a social services agency providing mentoring services and parenting education,” said Felecia Jones, volunteer team leader at Vicksburg Family Development Service and Counselor at the Vicksburg-Warren Campus. “We’re helping them shred and sort papers, cleaning child seats, data entry and whatever else needs to be done.”
Employees of Hinds also found ways to remotely extend appreciation to those who work in assisted living facilities.
“A big part of what we do at Hinds has to do with how we care about the community. We are a community college, so it’s only right that we do things that impact the community in a positive way,” said Latoya Clark-Horne, Instructional Technology Coordinator. She volunteered with a group of staff who gathered at the CTL on the Raymond Campus to prepare and create items of thanks, such as snacks and cards of appreciation.
“I just love the fact that Hinds is doing CARES day because it gives us the opportunity to go out and be a part of doing those positive things while getting to know people in our community and just connect with them,” she said.
At Lakeshore Park in Brandon, near the Ross Barnett Reservoir, volunteers beautified a prime recreation outlet for thousands of area families.
“Community is defined in many different ways,” said Joy Rhoads, Director of the Honors Program at the Rankin Campus and volunteer team leader at the park. “Quite obviously, as a community college, Hinds Community College should be leading the charge to support, engage, and foster the success of our community.”
Friends of Utica teamed with employees with offices at the Utica Campus to beautify an area of town that included downtown Utica.
“I’m out here because we work in the Utica community and I think it is very important to support the community that I work in,” said Sharon Alexander, Dean of Students at the Utica Campus and volunteer at Friends of Utica. “It’s important we show the community we support them not only on campus but in their backyard.”
Utica Mayor Kenneth Broome was more than delighted to welcome the Hinds volunteers to town.
“It’s an honor to see everyone this morning,” Broome told the volunteers. “I thank you all for last year coming and coming back again this year. It just looks so good for the community. And I know a lot of people here don’t even live in our community but you are out here helping us and that is what I love about it.”
Retiree Beverly Fatherree volunteered at Mississippi Food Network on March 11 as part of Hinds CARES Day.
Several retirees of the college also lent a hand to the second CARES Day effort.
“Hinds cared for me for 35 years, so I certainly continue to care for Hinds,” said Beverly Fatherree, retired English instructor who volunteered with others at Mississippi Food Network in Jackson. “I’m so happy to help with this initiative.”
Some volunteers wanted to pay back a measure of gratitude to the college itself by helping out for the second time.
“Both Hinds and the local community have given so much to me,” said Lee Douglas, Director of the Diesel Equipment Technology program at Hinds and volunteer at YMCA in Clinton. “I volunteered today to try and give of some of that back.”
Rounding out the list of nonprofits participating included Shower Power in Jackson, Jackson Leadership Foundation-Full Count Baseball Ministry, all in Jackson, Ever Reaching Community Center in Pelahatchie, the 4 C’s in Clinton and YMCA locations in both Clinton and Flowood.
“We really appreciate the time Hinds volunteers took out of their day to touch up the paint job on the soccer field and we look forward to working with them in the future,” said Sara Cothran, childcare director of the YMCA in Clinton.
Patti Josey, Administrative Assistant at the Rankin Campus, noted the impact of the effort at Ever-Reaching.
“It’s amazing people can show this much love to people who they don’t even know,” Josey said.
Volunteer leaders looked to inspire their groups of fellow employees in the spirit of service.
“Serving is caring,” said Jennifer Scott-Gimore, Dean of Advisement, Disability Support Services and Student Engagement and volunteer team leader at the 4 C’s. “One of the things we try to do is bring a team who’s willing to serve in any capacity. It feels good to serve and give back to the community.”