Local ladies honored for work in community

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 14, 2015

Ten women in Vicksburg earned the distinct honor of being recognized for their work in the city.

Mountain of Faith Ministries held its third Women Empowering Communities Luncheon Friday at City Auditorium.

“We have let the community choose 10 woman,” MOFM executive director Tina M. Hayward said. “We’re honoring them for the community service that they do.”

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This years’ honorees consisted of Jennifer Akers Harper, director of the Vicksburg Senior Center; Johnnie Bernice Coleman-Johnson, trailblazer and retired nurse; Dr. Josephine Calloway, career educator; Emmarie Flaggs Anderson, community volunteer and advocate; Kay Lee, servant leader; Shonna Morton, business owner and community volunteer; Arlene Smith, career educator; Angela Turner, community leader; Stacey Waites, social worker and Lee Ann Whitley, servant leader and career educator.

Each woman chose a word to describe her personality like strong, artistic, compassionate, determined, loyal, driven, goal-oriented, confident, unique and motivated.

A video recording of each of the honorees talking about their motivation and how they feel about the recognition they are receiving played for the audience. Largely their motivation came from their faith, family, wanting to pay it forward or to brighten someone’s day. Many spoke of their feelings of being undeserving and humbled by the acknowledgement.

Members of the community called or wrote a letter to the organization nominating a woman for the recognition. A committee of four cut the field down to the final 10.

“Narrowing the list down to 10 is not an easy task because our community is filled with so many wonderful women,” Judge Toni Terrett, MOFM board member, said.

Hayward founded MOFM in 2000 as a faith-based outreach organization to provide services to women and children through hard times at The Women’s Restoration Shelter. The shelter houses 58 beds, and the United Way of West Central Mississippi supports the organizing as one of its partner agencies.

“On a daily basis here in Vicksburg there are 250 people without a home, and this organization is committed to providing a place of shelter, safety, food and the care that they need to get on the right track and get their lives back in order,” MOFM board member Shirley Waring said.

Overall, they serve between 100 and 130 women a year. Food stamps, computer training, physicals in their clinic, life skills classes, morning devotions and bible studies are either offered or required of the women who come to the center. There are also grant programs available for rent and utility payments.

The organization has 13 board members, eight staff members and four interns. The group also oversees a transition home called Faith House and Finder’s Keeper’s Community Thrift Store.

Tammy Colman said she didn’t know what she would have done without MOFM in her time of need and added homelessness could happen to anyone because we are not promised anything.

“It could happen to you, it could happen to me, it could happen to anybody,” Hayward said in agreement.

Piano music by Carlon Ross accompanied the luncheon that had a red and purple color scheme over a meal of salad, soup, chicken, corn, green beans, roll, mashed potatoes and dessert.

Twyla Graise, Miss Mississippi 2014 Jasmine Murray and Mississippi G-n-H Blues all offered up musical selections throughout the event, and raffle tickets were sold for a cash prize.

Hayward said everyone should work together to make the community better.

“We hope this brings the community closer together,” Hayward said.