Service agency keeps looking for those to help

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 25, 2002

[11/24/02]During a meeting to boycott Vicksburg merchants in 1972, Tommie Lee Williams Sr. was put in charge to gather clothes for the needy from a thrift store that was relocating.

“Every time I would call someone to go by there to get the clothes, they kept telling me they couldn’t haul them. Finally, my wife went down there with me and she said, No wonder, Tommie. The lady’s giving you all the clothes in the store,'” recalled Williams, who has been blind since 1967, about trying to gather clothes at the time of the boycott.

Williams temporarily stored the clothes throughout his mother’s house and on her front porch.

“People would come and get the clothes we were giving away, but they got some of my mother’s clothes, too,” Williams said.

Williams then moved the clothes to another building that he rented for $10 a month. He went to the telephone company to have a phone installed at the urging of his wife.

“When I got down there to put up some money for a phone, the lady said she’d have to get a manager. The manager came up and said he couldn’t take my money,” Williams said. “Well, I got real mad. I thought he was being prejudiced. But he said he had heard about everything I’d been doing and said he couldn’t take my money because he wasn’t going to charge me for the phones.”

From the makeshift thrift store on his mom’s front porch Williams’ lifetime endeavor began.

What is known as We Care Community Services Inc. is celebrating 30 years of service this month.

“He should be given accolades for beginning such an endeavor,” said We Care administrator Rose Bingham, who has been a We Care employee for 14 years.

The organization offers educational programs for children including after-school tutoring, summer activities, Freedom School, reading assessments, American College Testing workshops, and a computer lab with 19 computers. We Care also sponsors a Girl Scout troop.

It provides emergency services including a food pantry and thrift store.

For adults, We Care provides a GED program, computer literacy training and home visits. Families can get help with housing referrals, nutritional information, medical referrals, and assistance with Medicaid, insurance, or food stamp applications. We Care also offers annual free income tax preparation.

“From the beginning, needs have been seen and the programs have evolved from those needs,” Bingham said. “We work hard to be of service to the community.”

We Care Community Services is funded by grants from United Parcel Service, United Way and Christian Children’s Fund. The organization works in conjunction in some of its programs with Delta State University and Hinds Community College.

Williams was recognized in 1994 for his services to the community by the Caring Institute in Washington, D.C.

Williams attributed his organization’s accomplishments to the staff he’s employed.

“As long as I’ve been here, if the Lord hadn’t placed workers here, maybe I wouldn’t have had the vision to get things done,” Williams said.

At 76 years old, Williams has no plans to slacken his role as president of We Care; in fact, he is at the facility five days a week and said he wishes he could do more.

“I feel like if I could get around better or if someone could drive me around I could do more work,” Williams said. “But I’m here if they need me. If I am needed I’ll be available.”

Williams and his wife, Pearline have been married for 54 years and have five grown children.

Pearline Williams said running the We Care organization has enhanced her husband’s lifestyle.

She said after Williams became blind she gave him a lot of encouragement to do something with himself.

“I wanted to make sure he was doing something to help himself and help others,” she said.

“I don’t like for any person to feel sorry for yourself because society isn’t going to feel sorry for you. You have got to get out there and do.”

Tommie Williams said the key to his family’s happiness lies in communication.

“If they don’t call in the morning, they sure call at night,” Williams said. “We are always counseling each other and taking each other’s advice.”

Williams said he feels pretty good and is doing pretty good.

“I couldn’t wish for anything more, because like I say, life has been very good to me,” Williams said.