MAKING A DIFFERENCE: Mayfield promotes community service through teaching

Published 6:55 pm Monday, July 23, 2018

As a teacher, Thomas Mayfield has a vehicle that allows him to reach and influence a lot of people daily, and he uses it to help promote community service.

A graduate of Warren Central High School and Alcorn State, Mayfield has taught social studies, government, minority studies and history for four years at Warren Central, and serves as the school’s bowling coach.

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He said returning to his old school “is pretty good. It’s a lot different from when I was there; it just feels good to have an impact on the community, especially teaching young people that I probably went to school with their sister or their brother or cousin, and they have the opportunity to look up to me, I think that’s the best part of all of it.”

That experience in the classroom led to the formation of GIVE, Gentlemen of intelligence valor and excellence, in 2016.

“We’re an organization for young men where they have to dress professionally; we teach them social skills, we teach them professionalism and try to give them a head start into the real world,” he said.

“A lot of the ideas I got came from my wife. Basically, what we do is a lot of community service; we do clothing drives, voter registration drives, canned food drives, and try to take a yearly trip. Last year we went to Memphis (Tennessee).”

The idea, Mayfield said, came from a student who approach him and told him he appreciated Mayfield being his teacher, and suggested forming an organization that could help young men grow.

“We got together, came up with a constitution and then we went from there. The first year we had 50 young men,” he said, adding GIVE had 30 in 2017 because he wanted a smaller group.

“We didn’t have something like that when I was in school, and that was why I wanted to bring something like that to the community,” he said.

“I’m looking at making it bigger this year, hopefully expanding to other high schools or the junior high or the elementary schools. I know a lot of young men need mentors, and it’s never too early to get young men in and talk to them and share advice with them and wisdom and help them grow from the mistakes that you made.”

Work with United Way

The group, he said, has done volunteer work with the United Way of West Central Mississippi.

Mayfield said he and United Way marketing and community relations director Kami May attended Warren Central together, “So we have a great relationship working together. Last year we did a powder puff football game where the girls played a flag football game to raise money for United Way and Vicksburg Family Development.

“We also did a clothing drive for United Way to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey in Houston, and for the tornado in Hattiesburg, working with William Carey University.”

Another project with United Way was the Razor Sharp Reading Program, where young men would read in the barbershop and get discounts on their haircuts. The United Way, he said, was helpful with getting books and advertising the program.

He is also planning a belt and necktie drive for young men.

“A lot of young men tell me they don’t have a belt or they don’t own a necktie for job interviews, so I’m taking it up upon myself to try to accept donations for belts and neckties, and I’ll distribute them to as many young men as I can. Hopefully I can give 18- to 22-year-old young men a chance to progress in life.”

A member of Mount Zion No. 4 Baptist Church, he developed a youth revival program called Mad for Christ.

“We have a youth seminar where we try to invite the community in and revive as many young people as we can,” Mayfield said. “We have speakers come in, we play games with them, we have a picnic; any way we can come out and give young people a chance to be part of something great; be a part of something that can help build themselves up and feel better about themselves.

“We get them into church and just talk to them; give them life advice — whether it’s spiritual, whether it’s mental, and we try to have it as informal as we possibly can so we can get as many young people in the community.”

Family Influence

Mayfield said the influence to get involved in the community came from “my wife, my dad, granddad, my mom and my brother. Family’s always been a big thing for me, and near and dear to my heart, they have a strong influence on my life and anything I can do to give back and make my family proud that’s why I do it.”

His father, he said, encouraged him “to be a great person, to get out in the community and just be a wonderful person, love your community, love where you’re from. Love your state and love your church as well.”

Looking at the future, Mayfield said “education has me right now. I’m focused on getting a couple of scholarships out, one under my grandfather’s name, and I give one out from Give. Education is my passion and I try to influence as many young people as I can to go into education.

“I’m going to stick with that right now.”

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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