Good Shepherd benefitting from new opportunities, funding

Published 8:00 am Saturday, March 5, 2022

Cindy McCarley, Director at Good Shepherd Community Center, said she wants the public to know good things are happening, but there is a lot more to be done. 

Good Shepherd, a non-profit organization, has been given additional opportunities and funding to help improve the community center. According to McCarley, Good Shepherd for the first time in history was able to brand itself, revise its mission statement and create a website. They were also able to install a new roof, thanks to generous donors, and implement new programs.

Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, Good Shepherd was able to receive some extra funding from the Child Care Strong Stabilization Grants that is a part of the American Rescue Plan to help update its preschool, which serves children ages six weeks through four years old and provide money for the staff. 

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“One thing that the pandemic did for the preschools and daycares was provided the American Rescue money,” McCarley said. “Part of the money we received was some funding that allows us to do some things we have been wanting to do for a long time like paint the inside of the building and update the floors and help with staff retention.”

The building is slowly transitioning into an updated facility that can cater to more needs in Vicksburg.

“It is important to me that people know how good God was and that God has prepared a way for us to do these incredible things so we can love on more people,” she said. 

However, as the saying goes, “it takes a village.” Good Shepherd still needs the support and help of those who believe in Good Shepherd’s mission statement: “to educate, empower and inspire individuals, children and families to live their best lives.”

“We receive funding from United Way, Mississippi Department of Education, Mississippi Department of Human Services and the United Methodist Church, but we want our individual donors that love the mission of Good Shepherd to understand that their donations are still so much needed and so much appreciated,” McCarley said. 

Good Shepherd also offers Life Ready programs that benefit adults and other individuals who need assistance with work skills, educational achievements and management skills. Some programs within Life Ready include Julia’s Place, which allows individuals with special needs between the ages of 14 through 21 to learn about different job opportunities and the skills required to maintain those jobs. This program is offered during school breaks such as spring break, summer break and winter break and it’s free of charge. Another program within Life Ready is Smart Start Certification, which is an adult program in partnership with Hinds Community College that offers classes on Saturdays along with a daycare component. Good Shepherd also offers an anger management program to help those find the cause of their anger and learn how to resolve it under its Life Ready services. Good Shepherd also works as a community center and houses other programs from organizations, like Mississippi Alcohol Safety Education, Narcotics Anonymous and the Food Pantry, which are all of no charge. Good Shepherd also offers educational programs like after-school care for ages 12 and under, adult literacy which helps adults learn how to read and financial literacy, which allows individuals to learn how to manage their personal finances. 

Another way to help Good Shepherd is by joining its volunteer program known as the Ripple Effect, which involves Elf Magic, Thanksgiving Baskets and Seasonal Programs like mentoring and camps. Currently, Good Shepherd is looking for some volunteers to tutor for ages 12 and under in its afterschool program. 

“You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to help tutor,” McCarley said.

They are also looking for preschool teachers and classroom floaters to hire. 

“We need people who are willing to come and spend time with our children,” she said.

For more information about how to help Good Shepherd or to join a program, call 601-636-7687 or visit their website at www.goodshepherdvicksburg.org.