Kay Lee to retire after 40 years of serving Vicksburg families

Published 4:00 am Saturday, April 22, 2023

Kay Lee, the Director of Vicksburg Family Development Service, is gearing up to retire after 40 years of serving the community at the organization.

The non-profit’s mission is to help families in the community who need assistance in raising their children. Most of the parents the organization helps are single mothers, although services are open to any parent.

“We’re working with families that have never been involved with Child Protection Services, and we work with families who are involved. And we partner with them as far as strengthening families where they are to be able to go forward,” Lee said. “It’s really rewarding.”

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Lee said she first applied to work with the organization because she found it so helpful when she was a new mother herself.

“When I had my first baby, I called Family Development all the time. They were my personal resource,” Lee said. “So, when my oldest daughter was 2, I began working here, and I almost felt like I was coming to work to know what in the world to do as a parent. I joke that it was just probably easier to hire me than it was to answer my million phone calls.”

Pastor Linda Sweezer-Rowster of the House of Peace Worship Church International is close friends with Lee. The two met and started working together in 1985 and were co-directors of the Vicksburg Family Development Service for 14 years.

“I can tell you what (Lee’s) heart is all about. She’s a giver. She’s given so much to the Vicksburg community,” Sweezer-Rowster said. “Probably about 98 percent of the clients at the Vicksburg Family Development Service are African American. And Kay Lee has a personality where she can connect with anybody from any nationality, race, or denomination. And what she did was not limited to just Family Development. She is a community-oriented person and she was a bridge for a lot of other agencies.”

“Kay Lee is a person that I wish the whole world could come to know,” Sweezer-Rowster said.

The development center is still in the hiring process for Lee’s replacement, and Lee said she plans to stay on until she can fully hand over the reins to the new director.

“I’m going to miss all the families that we serve and the staff. Because we are very much family. Some of us have been working together for over 30 years,” she said. “That’s going to be hard not to see them. But it’s kind of a joke around here that once you’re part of Family Development, you’re always a part of Family Development. That’s why I tell the employees, ‘You’ll always be a part of people’s hearts.’”

Lee added that she intends to continue serving the community and the non-profit after retirement, but is looking forward to being able to spend more time with her five granddaughters.