Published March 12, 2021

Hinds CARES Day a success for community

More than 200 Hinds Community College employees volunteered at 13 nonprofit sites in Jackson, Vicksburg, Brandon, Utica and Pelahatchie Friday as part of the first Hinds CARES Day.
By: Danny Barrett Jr.

More than 200 Hinds Community College employees volunteered at 13 nonprofit sites in Jackson, Vicksburg, Brandon, Utica and Pelahatchie Friday as part of the first Hinds CARES Day.

Organizer Colleen Hartfield, Grants and Legislative Liaison and PBI Formula Grant Director, expressed thanks to all volunteers who took part.

“The happy faces and hardy works of Hinds employees made our first Hinds CARES Day a tremendous success,” Hartfield said. “Thank you for being a part of an incredible effort that represented the best that Hinds has to offer – caring, generous, committed and hard-working people working for the greater good of our community. The non-profit partners were grateful and amazed by your efforts. We hope you were inspired and encouraged to continue to find ways to be of service to others in our community.”

For many, it was a day of moving, organizing, cleaning and working with the public.

“We’re sorting and organizing a resource closet,” said Joycelyn Washington, dean of Student Services at the Jackson Campus-Nursing/Allied Health Center, among a team of volunteers at We Will Go Ministries in Jackson. “We’ve taken everything out of the closet, organized it, deep-cleaned it, then slowly adding things back in. It’s always a good opportunity to think of others and put others before yourself.”

Organizations that assist with low-income families and the problem of food insecurity enjoyed the help of Hinds volunteers. Several volunteers said they felt a personal connection to their chosen site to help.

“Helping out here is special to me because I came to elementary school here,” said Mark Winters, a maintenance and janitorial employee at the Vicksburg-Warren Campus, among a team of volunteers at Good Shepherd Community Center in Vicksburg. The Cherry Street center was McIntire Elementary before it was converted in the 1990s to a multifaceted, United Way-recognized agency. “I had fourth, fifth and sixth grade here.

Mark Winters, foreground, and Marvin Petro carry a set of shelving at Good Shepherd Community Center in Vicksburg.

At Good Shepherd, Hinds employees moved several dozen boxes of donated items to a larger area downstairs where they were sorted. The boxes contained everything from Christmas ornaments and children’s toys to hand tools. The center’s programs include a preschool, a free medical clinic, Thanksgiving and Christmas assistance and emergency food service.

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.

At Jackson Leadership Foundation – Full Count Baseball Ministry, groups of employees helped build a potential field of dreams for area youth.

“Hinds has a ton of former athletes I knew would buy into working on a nonprofit baseball field for underprivileged children in the Jackson area,” said Jason Pope, associate vice president of facilities management, based on the Raymond Campus, among a team of volunteers at the Jackson site. “All of us have played baseball and have a heart for it.”

From left, Clay Therrell, Jack Hust, Trevor Wall, Herb Sanders of Full Count Baseball Ministry, Mike Canoy, Jesse Jones and Jason Pope at Full Count Baseball Ministry in Jackson.

At Lakeshore Park in Brandon, near the Ross Barnett Reservoir, volunteers beautified a prime recreation outlet for thousands of area families.

“It’s important to represent Hinds and care for the environment,” said Gary Fox, academic dean for the Rankin Campus. “Being in the great outdoors is nice, too, because so much of my time is spent indoors. I enjoy working with other people to help keep the environment clean.”

“Hinds Rankin is committed to giving back to the community,” said Joy Rhoads, director of the Rankin Honors program. “This is a perfect opportunity for faculty, administrators and employees to enjoy that camaraderie while doing it. It’s also important our students see us doing the same kinds of things we ask them to do.”

Cleanup also was the order of the day at Genesis & Light Center in Jackson.

“We’re fortunate we had an opportunity to help clean up today,” said Dr. Timothy Rush, dean of students of the Jackson Campus-Academic/Technical Center. “They run afterschool camps and senior social clubs. Being here today is just a small down payment on what the community has done for us.”

“I’m glad to be able to serve for Hinds CARES Day,” said Christy Laster, of the Jackson Campus-Academic/Technical Center. “They truly have a hand in the community. They serve the youth and the adult population as well. We’ve really had an opportunity to give the facility a facelift, from raking the leaves to burning the boxes to reading to the youth. We thank Hinds to let us use our time at work to serve in the community.”

From left, Joy Rhoads, Erin Russell and Carl Dewitt at Lakeshore Park in Brandon.

Rounding out the list of nonprofits participating included Mississippi Food Network, Shower Power, The Good Samaritan, all in Jackson, Ever Reaching Community Center in Pelahatchie, the 4 C’s in Clinton, Friends of Utica and Central Mississippi Correctional Facility Library.

“I’ve been a longtime supporter of Mississippi Food Network and this is my first opportunity to come in here and actually do some of the delivery that’s so crucial to the people of this state,” said Jay Eads, an instructor in the Unmanned Aircraft Systems program at the Raymond Campus. “It’s very rewarding and helpful to my fellow citizens in the state.”

It was a sentiment shared by Rebecca McAlpin, assessment center coordinator at the Raymond Campus.

“Part of Hinds is community, and so we wanted to give back,” McAlpin said. “My choice to helping the food network is to feed hungry children and families who are in low-income areas and provide them with a meal.”

Friends of Utica teamed with employees with offices at the Utica Campus to beautify an area of town that included the campus grounds.

“We’re cleaning up the area that is part of the Utica Campus,” said Sherry Franklin, vice president of instruction for career and technical education. “I think it’s just important for us to give back and embrace what we’re a part of.”

Marla Wiley, left, Anita Bell-Muhammad and Carol Fletcher assist at Mississippi Food Network.

Shower Power focuses on hygiene and clothing needs in the Jackson area.

“I think it’s just amazing,” said Bridget Oakes, developmental education coordinator at the Raymond Campus. “It makes you feel good to help out here. At Shower Power, they take donations every Friday.”

Ever Reaching Community Center operates a food pantry, donation center and provides holiday assistance to those in need, plus support for the elderly and veterans. Hinds volunteers sorted books, clothes and nonperishable food items, plus loaded food boxes for distribution to clients.

“It’s important to reach out to the communities we serve,” said Stacey Duke, a speech instructor at the Rankin Campus. “We’re partners with a lot of these organizations in the surrounding areas. Some of our students might also need access to these services. I think we’ve lost touch with each other during the pandemic. It’s a good time to start branching back out again.”

It was a sentiment shared by Kim Steil, a sociology instructor at the Rankin Campus.

“It’s wonderful for the community college to engage in the community,” Steil said. “This is a great organization and I was happy to hear about the great work they do.”

Valerie Barton, left, Melissa Woods, Dr. Stephen Vacik and Shaneka Jones assist at Shower Power in Jackson.

The 4Cs, Clinton Community Christian Corporation, provides senior adult services, emergency assistance to families and youth enrichment services.

“Anything for service, I’m here for,” said Jennifer Scott-Gilmore, dean of counseling and advising, based on the Raymond Campus. “I love helping people. Part of my job is counseling and student services, so any way I can serve, I’m available. We have enjoyed ourselves and gotten to know one another.”

Sentiments were shared by Angela Hite, director of the Hi-Steppers dance team, based at the Raymond Campus and Karen Robbins, computer and business instructor at the Raymond Campus.

“Any time you can get out in the community and help others is a good day,” Hite said. “We should all strive to reach out and help where we can. We should definitely do this again.”

“I enjoy helping others and gives us as employees a chance to give back to the local community we serve,” Robbins said.

From left, Angela Hite, Dede Furniss, Tracy Thigpen-Davis, Jennifer Scott-Gilmore and Christy Genthe at 4 C’s in Clinton

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