Durman enjoys making a difference in community

Published 2:28 pm Friday, January 15, 2016

For Pam Durman, helping others is a way of life.

“I just love helping people, whoever’s in need,” she said. “It’s been my passion all my life.”

A Vicksburg native, Durman grew up in the Kings community, going to Kings Elementary School and later Warren Central Junior High School and Warren Central High School. She owns two businesses, Playland, which is a play area for children in the Vicksburg Mall, and Mpressions, which works with weddings. Both businesses play a part in her community service activities, which she said she inherited from her mother.

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“My mom helped people in the community,” she said. “Mom used to cook for a lot of people. If a child came to school without a coat, she would buy them a coat and shoes, and I’m that same way, if I see a child in need, I’ll be out buying stuff for them. It all started with mom and grandmother, and we just picked up that torch and we’re carrying it on.”

Part of keeping the family tradition involves the United Way of West Central Mississippi, where Durman helps her son, Vincent II, who is the fundraising campairn chairman for small businesses.

“In a way, she said, her children got in United Way ahead of her, working with the Teen Help Program while they were in high school.

“It kept them involved in the community; to give back,” she said. “They’re still helping in the community.”

Part of Durman’s work with United Way involves calling people and asking for pledges.

“I love doing the campaign calling and calling people to get them to take part in helping the community. I tell people when I call it doesn’t matter how small your donation is. A lot of people think you have to do a large sum, and you don’t. A $5 dollar pledge, $10 pledge (will help).

“I love meeting people, helping people, talking to people, yes,” she said. “And I learned it at an early age. It’s not about me. It’s about lending a helping hand to somebody else. I don’t mind about donating when asked, and I want to be more involved with some of those things that are reaching out and helping families and people in need.

“Whatever is positive going on in the city, I don’t mind having a hand in it and I try to get other people involved — make a difference.”

Outside of United Way, she said, “I’m involved in a little bit of everything,” but a lot of her focus is on youth.

The youth leader at Mount Alban M.B. Church, she works with not only the young people in the church, but any young person she finds who needs help.

“Whenever I see a youth who’s in need or in trouble and in need of guidance, I’m willing to step in and give that encouragement that you can achieve greatness,” she said, adding her youth work was an extension of he work with the church, where she developed a reputation as someone who would listen to young people and the word of her abilities spread.

“I think the personality plays a lot and your willingness to listen and want to help,” she said. “If you can’t help them, maybe you can get them in the right direction where they can get help.

“Whatever I can do — talk to the kids, listen to the kids, addressing their attire, their behavior, their attitude. I strictly believe it takes a village to raise a child. I’ll have people I don’t know come to me and ask for help, can you help my child.”

When her children were in school, she said, “I was parent of the year twice in high school and elementary school. I was there. I wasn’t there just for my kids, I was there for everybody’s child.

Teachers brought children to her for help.

Although her children have graduated high school, Durman still works in schools with Warren Central High School’s parent teacher organization, which is trying to get involved in the community and find ways to reach the community’s teens.

She said her contacts developed through her wedding business have helped her get some teens jobs.

“I know a lot of caterers,” she said. “ I deal with a lot of teens, and teens are looking for something to do, so sometimes we’ll put them to work.

“Whether its paid or unpaid, they’re getting that experience so when they do go out and look for a job, they’ve got that under their belt as far as waiting on tables, setting up tables, the etiquette of setting tables. I have people calling, asking, ‘Can you help my child, can you put my child to work?’

“A lot of times, I can get kids community service work.”

The purpose, she said is to find what talents a teen has and their interests, “and whatever that is, do it to the best of your ability.

“I tell the kids I’m involved with, ‘don’t be a follower, be a leader and lead in a positive direction.’”

And whatever it takes to help young people to reach that goal, she’ll help find.

“If it’s school supplies, we (her church) give away school supplies every year and they don’t necessarily have to be in our community,” she said, adding she wants to and try and incorporate donations with Playland where admission is canned goods or school supplies for a shelter.

A lot of times, Durman said, she acts on her own to help people.

“I give donations to the Salvation Army and the River City Rescue Mission,” she said. “I’ve taken people there — men in need — and sometimes women who can get food and clothing there.

“I’ve come across a lot of people in the community who’s in need, and a lot of times I see someone on the street, and say ‘hey!’ not necessarily give them money, but if they’re hungry, I get them something to eat. If you need clothing, follow me here, and I’ll help you get it.”

Approaching total strangers on the street to see if they need help is an unusual practice in this day and age, but Durman said, “I do it all the time.”

However, she said, sometimes she gets leery if she sees a lot of men standing together.

“You kind of look at the situation, but you can’t be afraid when you’re out there on a mission,” she said. “You have that in the back of your head but you know that God is going to protect you.”

She said friends have suggested she slow down her activities, but adds she can’t.

“The scripture says, ‘Work while it is yet day, so when night comes, no man works.’

“So I look at me being involved now as my daylight.

“Every day I’m on a mission. Every day.”


About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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