I was introduced to a life of service at an early age. Each fall, my father would be under the Friday night lights volunteering medical services to the Natchez High School football team. My mother taught a youth Sunday School class. My parents never verbalized that giving back to your community is important but demonstrated it through their actions. I began volunteering in high school by accident. A former teacher of mine ran a tobacco awareness program for elementary students. She asked some of her former students to be mentors for the program, a paid position. In my carelessness, I forgot to complete the paperwork. They gave me the chance to correct my mistake, but I enjoyed working with the program so much, I declined the offer to be paid.
My service to the community continued through college, and it was such a rewarding experience. That is why when I accepted the role of Hub Director in Central Mississippi, it was my goal to get youth involved in service. Getting involved in community activities can enhance a teenager’s confidence and self-esteem and teach them leadership and team-building skills.
The first event we recruited for was the Mississippi Development Authority’s Energy Awareness Day. The coordinator of the event allowed me to recruit youth to volunteer. The students from the Jobs for Mississippi Graduate program worked as tour guides and project leads for this significant event attended by schools across the state. Many, volunteering for the first time, took their assignments seriously and displayed maturity and kindness when working with the young event attendees.
We utilized youth in both National Day Service Projects, 9/11 and MLK Day, in our first year. In 2020, we received a $2000 Lead Agency Grant to engage youth on 9/11 and Global Youth Service Days (GYSD) from Youth Service America. GYSD is the largest youth service and civic action event celebrated April 23rd-25th. Our Youth in Service Coalition will conduct five service projects during this time. These projects include collecting items for children at Sunnybrook Children’s Home, making blankets for children in child protective services, cleaning a senior living community, making budget-friendly healthy recipe cookbooks for underserved families, and a service project benefitting the children of Magnolia Speech School. To learn how you can assist our youth in their efforts, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Alliance enters this season of reflection and gratitude, deeply appreciative of the support from our many members, supporters, and friends.
The Phil Hardin Foundation in Meridian was chartered in 1964 with the charge to “improve the education of Mississippians.” For nearly six decades, we have strived to be a catalyst for educational opportunity and community improvement in Mississippi through innovative leadership and productive partnerships.
This summer, I joined thought leaders from Mississippi and across the country in the FutureGood Studio’s futurism training program. It was transformational. This experience redefined my outlook, both professionally as a nonprofit leader and on a personal level. It fundamentally altered the way I approach work and staff engagement and envision the future for both myself and the clients we serve.