Volunteer of the Week: Donna Ingram says bloom where you are planted

Published 11:15 am Sunday, December 10, 2023

This week’s volunteer of the week is Donna Ingram, a CPA specializing in forensic accounting.

She has been in Vicksburg since 1983 and has been involved in numerous civic, charitable and professional organizations.

She is married to Paul Ingram, and they are the parents of two adult sons. Most important, she said,  “I am glad to call Vicksburg home.”

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What is Blossom Project and how did it come about?
Paul and I are board members of River City Rescue Mission (RCRM). After a board meeting Earnie Hall, our executive director, mentioned to me that he may encounter women seeking “dignity products” (his words). Since RCRM is a shelter for men it does not stock products specific to the needs of women. Sam Godfrey is on RCRM’s board and also president of our Rotary Club. While at our annual Rotary fish fry in early November, I asked Sam if supplying toiletry bags for women might be a project our Rotary Club could undertake. He did not hesitate to say yes. I then discussed the idea with one of our past presidents, Annette Kirklin, and she immediately wanted to help. Within 24 hours Annette had found a toiletry bag on Amazon and suggested the name of the Blossom Project. I purchased 10 toiletry bags and sent out an email explaining the Blossom Project to all the female Rotarians the night before our next weekly meeting. The response was overwhelming and 10 volunteers quickly agreed to fill the bags. One bag has been delivered to Earnie and the rest will be delivered this month. Our goal is to purchase and fill 10 toiletry bags a quarter. All I did was plant the seed for this project; it quickly evolved with the efforts of a very willing group of women and the blessing of our Rotary Club. To blossom means to become more attractive, successful or confident, but it also means to develop and become stronger. Our goal is to help these women, many of whom are disadvantaged or homeless, blossom. God says we are to love our neighbor. This is a very small way that we can show our love.

What is your favorite moment with the project?
How quickly everyone stepped up to help and especially Annette’s enthusiasm.

What would you tell someone about volunteering?
Just do it. You will have a blast and the rewards are many. Many people fear volunteering because they don’t think they have the proper skills or time. We all have a talent that can be used and Vicksburg and Warren County are full of opportunities to help others. Most opportunities are one-time commitments that don’t take a lot of time. Go buy canned goods for the food pantry; read to a child at one of the schools or daycares; pick an angel from an angel tree; mow the lawn of an elderly neighbor; or whatever need you see requiring attention.

What have you learned from this project and other projects?
I came from a family that volunteered with scouts, church, school and neighborhood projects, so I have been a part of volunteer programs my entire life. Each memory makes me smile and I truly believe volunteering has improved my mental health, plus it has connected me with a vast number of awesome people.

How can someone volunteer?
The beneficiary of the Blossom Project is RCRM. The holidays are approaching and the needs in our community are many, especially at RCRM. Please consider making donations of food or money for Thanksgiving and Christmas. RCRM also has a large number of children in their Angel Tree program and jail ministry who need toys, books, educational aids and clothing. RCRM also provides daily meals to the men, shut-ins and others in the community, so food and monetary donations are welcome year-round. Jesus said feed my sheep and Earnie somehow divides the loaves and fish in the kitchen and does as instructed. Also, the men at the RCRM need our love and encouragement. You can volunteer to help with life and work skill training or visit RCRM and converse with the men to let them know that you are praying for their success in the program and that they are loved.

If you know a volunteer who should be featured, please submit the name and contact information to volunteer@vicksburgpost.com.