Mountain of Faith Ministries founder, director dies

Published 6:14 pm Friday, July 28, 2017

“Life is crazy,” Tina Hayward, director and founder of Vicksburg’s Mountain of Faith Ministries, said in an interview with The Post in February. “It’s like it’s always moving. You have to have tough love and a heart, too.”

Former Vicksburg alderwoman Gertrude Young described Hayward, her sister-in-law, as having a “heart for giving.”

Sadly, it was that heart that failed Friday morning, as Hayward died of a heart attack at the Veterans Affairs Hospital in Jackson. She was 60 years old.

Young said Hayward meeting with doctors at the hospital about elevated blood sugar level. Young said Hayward had battled diabetes.

Funeral arrangements have not been decided, but Young said Jefferson Funeral Home would be in charge of the services.

Hayward leaves behind a son, two daughters, two sisters, a brother and seven grandchildren.

“She was a fighter for those who could not fight for themselves,” Young said. “It was such a shock.”

Hayward, an Army veteran, founded Mountain of Faith Ministries in 2000. She founded the Women’s Restoration Shelter in 2005 and served as its director.

In a biography about Hayward on the Mountain of Faith Ministries website,  it says her “passion at the shelter is to provide emergency help to women and women with children in their time of homelessness.”

The news of Hayward’s death shook many in the service and charity communities throughout Warren County.

“Tina Hayward is one of the most amazing women I have ever encountered,” Michele Connelly, executive director of the United Way of West Central Mississippi, said. “After serving our country, she made the decision to make a true difference in the lives of the unforgettable — the homeless. She was a true advocate for those who do not have a voice. It was an honor to know her and serve our community beside her.”

In 2010, Hayward decided to renovate and then open a transitional shelter on Walnut Street where her office was located and where women could stay up to 24 months versus 90 days in the emergency shelter further from downtown.

“When they get a job, they can come over here,” she said of the transitional shelter, “to teach them life skills. Everyone who’s out there homeless doesn’t necessarily want to be, (but) you can’t just put a person in a shelter.”

The skills the transitional shelter teaches include computer proficiency, Bible class and financial literacy. Hayward said the shelter has a 90 percent success rate finding jobs for women in its care.

“She truly made a difference in my life and the lives of so many others,” Connelley said.

Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace was heartbroken after learning of Hayward’s death and said she was there to help at any moment, any hour.

“She was one of the kindest, most generous people I have ever known,” Pace said. “I have called her for years, at all hours of day and night when we would come in contact with women young and old who were in dire straights and in a need for a place to stay or just someone to sit and talk to.

“This community will certainly miss her and I will miss her both professionally and personally.”

The leadership of Mountain of Faith Ministries, led by Hayward, had worked together to build the charity to what it had become, serving the numbers they did.

Mountain of Faith Ministries’ board president Artelia Williams said they were hurting Friday, but the mission remains.

“I look back to how hard and how dedicated she was to this mission of ensuring homeless people have a shelter and she worked unrelenting, almost 24 hours a day,” Williams said. “She was a beautiful, committed person. She loved the Lord, she loved her family and she loved Mountain of Faith.”

As hard it was to do so Friday, Williams said the board had already started to look at what is next for Mountain of Faith.

“Today we agreed that we would get together early next week. As a board, Tina made sure that we were all well trained to assume greater responsibility,” Williams said. “Her shoes are going to be big to fill, but we are committed.

“All of us have been there with Tina. She was a wonderful woman to have worked with.”

About Tim Reeves

Tim Reeves, and his wife Stephanie, are the parents of three children, Sarah Cameron, Clayton and Fin, who all attend school in the Vicksburg Warren School District. The family are members of First Baptist Church Vicksburg. Tim is involved in a number of civic and volunteer organizations including the United Way of West Central Mississippi and serves on the City of Vicksburg's Riverfront Redevelopment Committee.

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