Grey driven to serve the community

Published 9:19 am Monday, November 21, 2016

For Jennifer Grey, the inspiration to become involved in her community came while she was teaching at Vicksburg High.

“I coached cheerleading and coached cross country, and I was involved with the student council,” she said. “We did so much community service with those groups, that I wanted to instill in the kids how important community service was. I wanted to do it myself and stay involved and give back to the community that raised me.”

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A Vicksburg native, Grey is a graduate of Vicksburg High School and returned to teach there after receiving a degree in secondary education from Mississippi State. She taught there for 10 years before leaving education to work as a sales rep for Unitech.

Her desire for volunteer work  led her to several different activities, serving six years with Junior Auxiliary, including one year as president, an ambassador for the Vicksburg-Warren Chamber of Commerce, serving in several capacities with First Presbyterian Church, and this year’s campaign chairman for United Way of West Central Mississippi.

“I was nominated for JA and we started with a healing hands project my first year, and that kind of set the stage for the next five years, we just dove in to helping families and children,” she said. “I’m a life member with them now, and I still volunteer. I did the Game of Life at Hinds and Warren Central.”

She volunteered as a chamber ambassador, a program that helps promote the chamber and helps local businesses.

“We just did the membership drive,” she said. “We attend ribbon cuttings and serve as greeters at chamber luncheons. We try to get the chamber’s name out there and we try to get out and encourage businesses to get to know each other and network, and make people feel welcomed (in the community).”

Grey serves in two positions at First Presbyterian, as a church elder and on the church’s mission trip committee.

“I’ve made three mission trips,” she said. “We went two times to the Dominican Republic, where we worked constructing an orphanage, and then we did vacation Bible school for children who lived at the battes, where the families on sugar (cane) farms live. It’s pretty rough conditions. We go out there, and we have a medical team that goes with us. We have vacation Bible school and spend time with the children.

“The third trip was to Honduras, and there we worked on a retaining wall for a medical facility. We then went way up in the mountains for vacation Bible school.”

She said the country was beautiful and very interesting.

Grey’s work in United Way, she said, was an outgrowth of her activities with JA.

“I knew after teaching and JA I wanted to get into something more community-involved and service-oriented,” she said. “Katie Farrell’s my sister-in-law, and she served as campaign chairman last year. I got to watch her and see what the job entailed, and she enjoyed it so much and invited me to be a part of it.

“Then Michele (Connelly) asked me to do it (this year), and I was elated, because it was exactly right up my alley,” she said.

As campaign chair, Grey organizes the campaign cabinet, and each cabinet member has a category in which they are in charge of sending letters to potential donors.

“We meet once a month and set goals at the beginning of the year,” she said. “We assist the United Way staff and encourage the public to get involved and meet with business.

“It’s a lot at the beginning, but it’s slowed down; it’s fun work,” she said.

Grey credits technology and her husband with helping her keep moving with her active life

I prioritize and utilize technology as much as possible, but I would be totally overlooking the truth if I did not mention my husband,” she said.

“He steps in and helps take care of our daughter’s activities and offers his support in all that I do, whether it be running or leaving the country on a mission trip. Zach, my husband, is also a product of Vicksburg, and he, too, wants to see positive things happening in our community.”

Having a full plate hasn’t stopped her from looking at other potential activities.

“I’m going with a group to run in the St. Jude Marathon Dec. 3,” she said adding, “I am a runner; I love it.”

With her full plate, it would seem Grey would be satisfied to stay with her present activities, but she has her eye on getting involved with another local organization, one involving her interest in history.

“I taught history, and I’m interested in preserving what we have in Vicksburg,” she said. I believe the Friends of the Vicksburg National Military Park and Campaign speaks to me.”

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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