‘Just wanted to make him feel special’ Shelter showers only grad

Published 12:30 am Saturday, May 21, 2011

Trevae Wilson never thought his last days of high school would be spent in a Red Cross flood shelter, but some friends there have helped him make the most of it.

Trevae and his mother, Pat Wilson, evacuated their Hutson Street home in north Vicksburg more than two weeks ago and found themselves at Hawkins United Methodist Church on Halls Ferry Road.

“I pictured graduation enjoying it with family and friends,” said 18-year-old Trevae, who, along with nearly 200 seniors from Warren Central High School, received his diploma Friday night, “but it’s been good.”

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Friday afternoon, Red Cross workers and volunteers at the shelter surprised Trevae with a party.

“I just wanted to make him feel special,” said Tamica Smith-Jeuitt, a Jackson-based Red Cross spokesman who coordinated the festivities. “He’s got a bright future. He deserves that. We wanted to encourage him to do well in life, to give back and help somebody out.”

Pat Wilsom acknowledged the flood’s impact on her son.

“I know this is the time of his life,” she said, “and with all of this going on, we’ve been just trying to hang in there.”

To keep some sense of home, she sometimes allowed him to stay the night with friends.

“His spirits have been great,” she said. “I said to him, ‘Just bare with me, baby. It’s going to take time.’ I told him to just trust in God. Everything is going to work out.”

Trevae is the only high school student staying at the shelter, which has housed as many as 19 evacuees since opening about two weeks ago. Friday night, the facility was sheltering 11.

The flood has, of course, affected other high school students, said WCHS teacher Susan Athow, a manager at the Hawkins shelter. But, “with the flood being predicted long in advance, many have made other arrangements to stay somewhere else,” she said.

Many Warren Central students live in north Vicksburg, including Kings, Redwood and Eagle Lake, which have all been flooded.

At Vicksburg High, one graduate has been displaced by the flood, principal Derrick Reed said. VHS’ graduation was Thursday night.

Porters Chapel Academy’s graduation was May 14, and St. Aloysius High School and Vicksburg Community School will hold ceremonies today.

Pat Wilson, who is a high school substitute teacher, said she and Trevae left home with only the necessities. They moved furniture and other personal belongings into a storage facility, and stayed in a motel for six days before coming to the Hawkins shelter.

“They made us feel like we are living in a mansion,” she said. “They have been so supportive.”

Trevae, the son of Anthony Wilson of Vicksburg, plans to enter East Central Community College, where he will study business and play soccer. He is the recipient of a $250 scholarship from the Warren Central Red Cross Club.