Homecoming Benevolent gathering tonight

Published 11:57 am Thursday, July 5, 2012

To prospective college students, happiness is scholarship money, and the Vicksburg Homecoming Benevolent Club is about to make some local kids happy.

The club’s 37th annual reunion, which gets under way tonight with its annual Happiness Is… Coming Home theme, will see about $10,000 in scholarships awarded to 14 local students, said Willie Glasper, club president.

The scholarships and awards brunch will be Saturday morning at 10 at St. Mary’s Center, Main and Second North streets. Dr. Elizabeth Swinford, superintendent of the Vicksburg Warren School District, will be the guest speaker.

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Glasper said two of the scholarships are given to current college students to help them continue their education, while 12 are awarded to recent high school graduates.

While attendance has fallen off in recent years, with the economy slumping and travel costs rising, Glasper said, 250 or more former Vicksburg residents from across the country will come home for this year’s four-day bash.

The Kickoff Social begins at 8 tonight at American Legion Post No. 213, The Hut, on Main Street.

The VHBC began its annual reunion in 1975, when founder Booker T. Wilson attended a family event and decided Vicksburg needed an annual celebration to reunite family and friends.

Over the years, the scholarship awards have become one of the highlights of the club’s activities, and last year the VHBC added awards to high school and junior high students who participate in essay and oratorical contests.

“One of the unique parts of this year’s program is that one of our charter members, who served as treasurer for 35 years and honorary treasurer for the past couple of years, passed away Friday,” Glasper said, in reference to Theresa Prince Williams. Many who come for the homecoming will attend Williams’ funeral Friday at 11 a.m. at Jackson Street Baptist Church, Glasper said.

Williams was a math teacher in the Vicksburg schools for more than 40 years, Glasper said.

Other events over the weekend include a Friday night wine and cheese social centered on, Don Cornelius and Soul Train, at St. Mary’s Center; a golf tournament Saturday at Clear Creek Golf Course; a Saturday night banquet and DJ-led dance at St. Mary’s Center; and a Sunday morning worship service at Battlefield Inn.

Tickets are available from any VHBC member.