‘Y-Brat’ returns to give back to place that gave him much

Published 7:28 pm Friday, February 8, 2019

It is a welcome change to learn of someone doing something good, especially in a time when those exhibiting bad behavior inundate the news.

For Vicksburg resident Keith Phillips, “doing good” means giving back and that is just what he is accomplishing as a volunteer at the Vicksburg YMCA.

“Keith is an inspiration. He is a young man who grew up in the Y-system,” YMCA program director Wayne Scott said, “and has now achieved a college education and is putting back into his community what he has earned from it.”

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Phillips began hanging out at the Y at a young age, Scott said.

“He was a Y-Brat and brat is not derogatory in any way,” Scott said. “This is how we refer to kids who come to the Y and kind of just start hanging out looking for direction and a place to go and fit in.”

Scott said Phillips started out doing odd jobs at the Y, “And then all of the sudden it became when you needed something done or a job needed to be done, he was there.”

Scott added that Phillips was always dependable, showed up and was willing to do the work.

“No matter how dirty the job was,” Scott said.

Phillips said he has been working and volunteering at the Y going on seven years now, and after going off the college, he was still looking for a way to help out when he came home for school breaks.

“When I went off to college my maintenance job was already replaced. So when I came back for the holiday break, there was nothing available, but they (the YMCA) said they had a position with the kids, if I wanted it. So I thought I would give that a try, since I was going to school to be a teacher anyway. And I fell in love with it,” Phillips said.

During the summers in between school, Phillips has worked at the day camps held at the Purks YMCA and although, he said, he was going to school to teach high school, working with the younger children has really been enjoyable.

“I never thought I would be interested in younger kids, but it gets kind of fun now playing around with them. Their imagination is kind of different,” Phillips said, “And they haven’t hit the real world yet, so they don’t have as many problems as the older ones, so it is easier to talk to them.”

Now after graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Southern Mississippi and working toward his teaching certificate, Phillips has been volunteering as a football coach for third and fourth-graders and a basketball coach for second, third- and fourth-graders at the Purks Y.

“Keith does a lot of my volunteer youth sports coaching in my basketball and youth football programs,” Scott said.

In fact, on Saturday, one of the teams he coaches will be in a championship playoff game.

“He cheers us on every time when we are playing,” Dacion Brown, a 9-year-old player on Phillips’ Golden Eagles youth basketball team, said.

Team member Christian Russell concurred with Brown and added that Phillips is a good coach.

“He tells us how to do lay-ups and stuff, and he doesn’t scream at all,” Russell said.

And because Phillips said he grew up in a home without a father, he tries to be cognizant of those in similar situations.

“I enjoy working with the young kids that don’t have a father in their life, because I didn’t have one in mine, so that’s one of the things that made me start going to the Father/Daughter dinner date too,” he said.

The Father/Daughter dinner is an annual event sponsored by the local YMCA and includes dining and dancing for father and daughter.

Phillips will be attending with a YMCA girl as her surrogate father.

“Keith gives back to the young boys and girls who were just like him growing up — showing them guidance and the difference between what is right and wrong,” Scott said. “He worked hard through the Y by doing summer jobs and making extra money and ended up going to USM and getting his Bachelor of Science degree and now he has come back here to the Y again, and he is serving as an example for the kids by showing them you can achieve whatever you want to achieve as long as you are willing to put the hard work in.”

About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

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