United Way loses 2 agencies they’ve funded for years

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 10, 2003

[11/08/03]Two organizations that have been member agencies of the United Way of West Central Mississippi will no longer receive funds from local donations.

The Bridge at Signal Hill and the Good News Jail and Prison Ministries are the two agencies that are being dropped from the list of member agencies of the United Way of West Central Mississippi, said Barbara Tolliver, president.

“I received a letter from Sue Cherney, executive director of Southern Christian Services for Children and Youth (the parent agency of The Bridge) saying they would not apply for funding for 2004,” Tolliver said, adding she received the letter in October.

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Representatives of Southern Christian Services did not return a phone call asking for comment.

She also said she had been advised by the Rev. Roger Cresswell the local chapter of the Good News Jail and Prison Ministry was being withdrawn from the Warren County Jail and Friday (Nov. 7) would be his last day. The ministry has been working at the jail for more than 25 years.

When reached for comment, Cresswell, who is also pastor of Berachah Baptist Church, said the reason Good News Jail and Prison Ministry is withdrawing is financial.

“The funds are just not there,” even with the contribution from United Way, Cresswell said.

Inmates at the Warren County Jail will not be without a religious ministry, James Hartley, who was formerly with Good News for eight years and who now heads the Keystone Ministry in Vicksburg, will be ministering to the inmates.

“I just left (the jail) where I picked up the (office) door key,” Hartley said Friday afternoon.

He said he will open the jail ministerial office Monday morning, adding that Sheriff Martin Pace contacted him to take up where Good News left off.

“He told me We don’t have any money, but we sure want you there,'” Hartley said. “I told him Keystone has the funding.

He said with Keystone in charge, the jail ministry will not only be in a position to serve the religious and other needs of jail inmates, but also to help an inmate’s family and the inmate when he or she is released from jail through Keystone’s regular ministry. Keystone, he said, was originally organized to help jail inmates following their release.

Hartley said Keystone may apply to be a United Way member agency in 2004.

Tolliver said the withdrawal of the two agencies will leave the local United Way with 23 member agencies instead of 25.

In 2003, the Bridge at Signal Hill received $7,545 in United Way funds and Good News received $11,683.

The funds the two agencies would have received in 2004 will be reallocated to other member agencies, Tolliver said.