Vicksburg board approves ARPA funds for agencies

Published 3:11 pm Thursday, December 23, 2021

Christmas came early for the Vicksburg Convention Center and four other organizations.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen on Wednesday approved the allocation of American Recovery Plan Act funds to the Convention Center, Lifting Lives Ministries, Mountain of Faith Ministries, Step-by-Step Performing Arts Academy and We Care Community Services. The amounts range from $4,000 to $10,000 a year for one to two years.

“A lot of donors have been tightening funds over the past year and I appreciate the mayor and aldermen finding other ways to continue to fund us and help support the homeless families of Vicksburg which we serve,” said Joel Dimmette, executive director of Lifting Lives Ministry, which is receiving $10,000 a year for two years.

Lifting Lives serves homeless families in the community.

“The mayor and aldermen have been supporting us for the last several years,” Dimmette said. “Mayor (George) Flaggs was very interested in homeless families and making sure they can be served and become productive citizens. We’re very thankful for that so it makes me feel great.”

He said the money will go toward meeting the mission’s operating budget.

“It helps us to serve homeless families by sheltering them, continuing our education and job training programs to where families can get on their feet, kids can go to school and they can return to a self-sufficient environment in their own place after they exit our program so it’s very beneficial to the families in the community,” he said. “I’m thrilled they approved it.”

Erin Southard, executive director of the Vicksburg Convention Center, said the $5,000 the center receives will go toward covering the expenses for a Mardi Gras ball on Feb. 12. The ball is seen as an engine to help the area’s economy.

“We will be utilizing the Mardi Gras ball not only as a way for community involvement but also as a way to bring people from outside in,” Southard said. “People come from out of town for the parade every year so we’re doing this before the parade in hopes not only to have parade participants  — krewes — to buy tables and come and have a good time but also people from out of town who might want to come over to Vicksburg and stay at the bed and breakfasts for a romantic weekend because it also happens to be Valentine’s weekend,” she said.

“The ultimate goal is to help drive the economy by bringing people back to Vicksburg and giving Vicksburg more options to enhance our downtown area an activity we have going on.”

ARPA funds for the other recipients include:

• Mountain of Faith, $10,000 a year for two years. The ministry serves homeless women and children in Warren County and provides food, utility and rental assistance.

• Step-by-Step Performing Arts Academy, $4,000 a year for two years.

The school provides afterschool tutorials, theater and offers a program in robotics in the afternoons.

Academy director LaMia Haggard said the extra money “is going to help out a lot because after COVID when the children go out to play we’re required to see that each child is 6 feet apart so it will allow us to provide 6 feet of space for each child (by enlarging the play area) so when the kids go out they won’t be up under each other.”

• We Care Community Services Inc., $5,000 a year for two years.

“We are very pleased,” said Jackie Steward, We Care administrator. She said the nonprofit agency operates a food pantry from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Thursday, a monthly commodity box program for senior citizens and a summer feeding program through the Mississippi Food Network for children up to 18 years old.

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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