Pay It Forward Friday: Wild at Heart Rescue

Wild at Heart Rescue is a non-profit wildlife rescue right here in Jackson County. Through rescue and rehabilitation they help injured, sick, or orphaned animals native to Mississippi. When possible, the animals are returned to their natural habitat once they become healthy enough.

When an animal cannot be returned to the wild, whether for legal reasons or for the benefit of the animal, Wild at Heart takes care of that animal for the rest of its life. For example, they have pigeons that have been with them for twenty years because legally, they are not native to Mississippi. 

Wild at Heart Rescue welcomes all animals in need, no matter the species. They care for all types of mammals, birds, and reptiles. 

They became famous for a viral photo of an owl hugging a man. When her caregiver went out of town for a few days, it was obvious that GiGi the owl missed him. When he returned, she spread her wings to give him a hug! 

The rescuers work tirelessly to help all of their residents, and they get more rescues every day. Their daily routine includes cleaning out the pens and making sure everyone is fed properly. For some animals, this can be very expensive. For example, buying rats to feed the owls is quite costly. Medical care for the animals comes at a high price as well. In addition to the care they provide each day, they stay on call to rescue animals whenever and wherever the need arises.

To continue the selfless work they do for animals in need, Wild at Heart depends on donations from caring people like you. Support their mission by donating at

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Celebrating People, Partnership and Performance the Chevron Way

Since the Pascagoula Refinery began operating in 1963, it has grown to be Chevron’s largest U.S. domestic refinery, and one of the top petroleum refineries in the country. The Mississippi plant processes an average of 330,000 barrels of crude oil per day to manufacture gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, premium base oil and chemicals that are used as building blocks in plastics, garments, toys and other essential products. 
The refinery’s success is built upon strong relationships with the community of Jackson County. The Pascagoula Refinery’s 2017 Report to Our Community offers an overview of some of those relationships and the refinery’s corporate citizenship over the last year.

People, Partnership, and Pascagoula

In addition to the Community Report, video “People, Partnership, and Pascagoula” gives insight as to how Pascagoula Refinery supports Jackson County community organizations.

Pascagoula Refinery’s 2017 Report to Our Community

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Pay It Forward Friday: Larry Hawkins II on Purpose, Principles, and Pascagoula

Larry Hawkins II

Larry Hawkins II is passionate about his purpose in life. A purpose centered not on him, but on others.

The pursuit of purpose brought Larry to Pascagoula, Mississippi. Not his own pursuit — but his father’s. Larry Hawkins Sr. had followed his calling to become head pastor of Union Baptist Church. Just like that, Larry’s parents made Pascagoula their home with a one-year-old son. The Union Baptist Church family quickly embraced them, and he became known as “Little Larry”.


“Pascagoula is ingrained in who I am as a person,” Larry Hawkins II says, “I am a product of the Pascagoula School District. I’m also a product of Bethel Christian Academy’s after school care and the Andrew Johnson Boys and Girls Club. My childhood was filled with little league baseball and basketball, trips to Anderson’s Bakery, and burgers from Mr. Jack’s burger spot behind Trent Lott Middle School. The southern hospitality of holding doors open for other people, saying ‘yes ma’am’ and ‘no sir’, and looking out for your neighbor were all taught to me by my hometown.”

These moments described by Larry helped prepare him for his journey toward adulthood when he left home at sixteen. His decision to attend the Mississippi School for Math and Science (MSMS) was hard for several reasons — the main one being that he would have to leave the place he’d called home for fifteen years. From attending MSMS and graduating from Mississippi State University with an Electrical Engineering degree, to moving with his wife to Austin, TX, Larry felt he was getting further and further away from home.

It was during this journey that Larry discovered his purpose. In 2014, his passion for helping others manifested into a full-time business: Hawkins Development Group. The business takes him further from home as he travels the world, inspiring others to find their own purpose. However, from the first moment he stood before a group of people, he knew that he had found his home away from home. After helping nearly 3,000 people, Larry’s faith in his mission has only grown.

In January of 2018, Larry published his first book: 5 Principles to a Purposeful Life. He wrote it to capture what he’d learned throughout his journey in a way that would inspire others to find their own versions of success. The book includes key components for the pursuit of purpose that he discovered over years of helping others. He also captured moments from lessons he learned watching his dad lead the church, his mom nurture children in Pascagoula, and playing in little league basketball. As he wrote this book, Larry realized just how much Pascagoula had traveled with him everywhere life had taken him.

During Larry’s journey, Pascagoula was with him every time someone complimented his manners and hospitality. Every time someone thanked him for being considerate, Pascagoula was with him. Any time someone was impressed with how open-minded and engaging he was, Pascagoula was with him. Everywhere Larry goes and everywhere his book goes, Pascagoula goes also. He walks a path of purpose in pursuit of inspiring others, and Pascagoula, Mississippi, walks with him.

Larry Hawkins II wrote “5 Principles to a Purposeful Life” in four days, but the journey to that moment started 30 years ago when he was given the privilege of calling Pascagoula his home. Learn more about Larry and Hawkins Development Group at To order a copy of “5 Principles to a Purposeful Life,” visit or

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Pay It Forward Friday: Team Kids of FBCOS Host Valentine Luncheon for Single Seniors

The children of Team Kids at First Baptist Church in Ocean Springs hosted a Valentine Luncheon for Single Seniors at the church last Sunday. Team Kids, guests, and other volunteers gathered in the church’s activities building, where the tables were adorned with festive Valentine decor. The children then served their guests a delicious meal and presented them with gifts and handmade Valentine cards. The menu included a choice of lasagna or shrimp casserole, garlic bread, salad, strawberry cheesecake, and tea.

“The children are learning to share God’s love and serve others, and they are experiencing the joy that comes from that service. We’ve had this event for several years now, and it is always looked forward to and enjoyed by our seniors as well as the children,” said Cindy Hagler, longtime Team Kids leader. Other leaders include Debbie Trenchard, Susie Cagle, Jane Ellison, and Theary Dodson.

The teachers of these children did a super job in recognizing the seniors of our church. The food was delicious and letting the children serve us was an extra special treat! -Liz Folsom, luncheon guest

Team Kids meets every Wednesday night from 6:15 – 7:00 p.m. at FBCOS where they have Bible study, learn about missionaries around the world, and participate in various mission projects.

Go Team Kids!

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First Annual Block Party to Follow Gautier Men’s Club Parade

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There are a lot of new changes coming to the Gautier Men’s Club this Mardi Gras season.

The 2018 parade, now called the Gautier Mardi Gras Night Parade and Block Party, will roll at 7 p.m. on February 3rd. The parade will be taking a different route-beginning and ending at the Dolphin Road Roundabout. The route goes from the roundabout, east on Dolphin Road, then south on Gautier-Vancleave Road. The route then takes a right onto U.S. 90 and then takes a right back onto Dolphin and ends at the roundabout for the block party. The parade theme this year is ‘Get Funky’. 

There will be a pre-party tomorrow night for people who have reserved their spots, but the main block party will happen after the parade on Saturday. The block party will feature live music from 8 to 11:30 p.m. with a high school battle of the bands, including the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College band.

This will be the first block party for the Gautier Men’s Club and they’re hoping to keep it going each year. The block party is free to attend and will open to the public to celebrate Mardi Gras with the Gautier Men’s Club. 

Since its inception, the Gautier Men’s Club has helped Gautier and surrounding communities by donating time and money it raises throughout the year. Among its annual projects are the sponsorships of families at Thanksgiving and Christmas, including Christmas toys for children. 

The club presents awards to the firefighter and police officer of the year, the Gautier Citizen of the Year and annual scholarships to graduating Jackson County seniors. The club’s annual parade is open to all organizations, with each decorating its float based on its own theme.

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Pay It Forward Friday: Shellie Carter Helping Homeless Teens on the Coast

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Many kids look forward to their 18th birthday, but for kids in foster care their 18th birthday is often the day they become homeless. That is when they “age out” of the foster care system, and unless they have plans to go to college or have someone pick them up and take care of them many of these young adults are left with nowhere to go and end up in the streets. A new program through the Community Care Network, Breakthrough, aims to to rescue these homeless kids that are on the streets and give them the housing and necessities they need to help get them on their feet. 

The Community Care Network is a faith-based, non-profit organization located in Ocean Springs seeking to empower their clients and minister to their physical, emotional, and spiritual need, enabling them to move from addiction, homelessness, and/or incarceration to a stable and independent life. The network is made up of different branches, including a long-term transitional home-Sue’s Home. Sue’s Home helps women and children who have either been displaced by incarceration or rehab and are seeking to get their life’s back on track, so they may unify their family again.

The Breakthrough program began in South Mississippi in July and rescues these 18-to 24-year olds who have aged out of the foster care system and have no job or hopes of going to college, said Shellie Carter, director of the program for the Community Care Network. “Many of these kids have bounced around in foster homes or may come from an abusive home and turn to alcohol and drugs to cope”, she said. 

Carter mentions how she can understand and relate to how uncertain and scared these kids are. “I was a child of an addict”, she said, and at age 6 she and her sister were taken from her mother and placed in a foster care in Harrison County. “I’ve been in your shoes”, she tells the kids. 

The program was founded after receiving the Continuum of Care (COC) Grant through Open Doors Homeless Coalition, which is a coalition for the homeless in Gulfport. “When I met Diane Easley, (Founder and Executive Director of Community Care Network), I thought ‘wow what a blessing it would be to work with the community after experiencing what I have as a child in the foster care system and having addiction touch my life'”, said Carter. 

This is her 9th year working with non-profits and second year with the Community Care Network. At 47, she now believes life has brought her to where she needs to be to put her own past to rest and to take those late-night phone calls from kids in Breakthrough who need help or just someone to listen to their concerns.

Homelessness is a challenge in our area 

The homeless population in Ocean Springs has become a  continuous issue in the city. A 2015 count showed a 300 percent increase in homelessness among ages 18 to 24 in the six southern counties, most of them on the Coast, Carter said. In every other age category the numbers went down, she said. The current count of young people living outside in South Mississippi is 54. “I have people call me daily to try and get into the program and on average about 3 people per week”, said Carter. “We’re funded out through the end of the year and at our max capacity with our budget”, she said. “We don’t have any more room- the problem is that big.” There are currently 11 residents enrolled in the program. 

“There’s a lot of barriers that go into homeless youth. If they’re 18 there’s a lot of apartment complexes who won’t accept an 18 year old signing a lease”, she said. “Another issue is employment and transportation that we’ve come across while trying to help the homeless youth.” 

How it works

The homeless youth first go through a centralized intake through Open Doors Coalition and get all of the information to identify their level of need. “A score of one would be the least amount of need and if they score from five to ten they are really desperate”, she said. 

After determining their need, the next step includes finding an apartment so the young person has a warm, safe place to live. The program provides them with everything from furniture and cooking supplies and even food. “There’s a lot to getting a young person housed who has nothing,” Carter said.

Breakthrough also assigns a case manager who provides help learning how to apply for food stamps, search for jobs and even enrolling them in financial counseling. “It’s very overwhelming to 19-year-olds,” Carter said, since many of them don’t know how to cook or parent and “freeze” when asked to fill out job applications.

The program has had many success stories ike a young woman in Gulfport who was homeless and now has apartment and a high school diploma and plans to start junior college this spring. 

“It can happen to anyone”, says Carter. “So if we can all take our shoes off and walk in someone else’s for a day we can all get that perspective and relate in someway”, she added. “I’m sure at some point in life, addiction has touched someone you know or someone in your family and that’s where our human-ness comes in our ability to touch and reach out to these people and give a hand up, not a hand down”, said Carter. 

How you can help

The program is always in need of supplies for the program such as personal hygiene items, toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant. Any leftovers are sent back out into the homeless community. “We make care packages and take them back out into the streets to pass out” said Carter.

For more information on the Breakthrough program or Community Care Network, visit their website at

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JaxCoHome Proudly Introduces #JaxCoSnaps

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Are you a photographer who enjoys capturing the scenic views of Jackson County? Or even someone who enjoys taking photos at local events? Well, JaxCoSnaps is your next favorite photo-sharing site! 

What is JaxCoSnaps?

JaxCoSnaps is a new addition to the JaxCoHome website and is the premiere place to be seen. Using photos YOU take and featuring them in galleries on our site, JaxCoSnaps is the place to share all of your favorite photos of Jackson County. 

How does is work?

JaxCoSnaps is easy to use and anyone can do it. All you have to do is tag your image with #jaxcosnaps on Facebook or Instagram and you will be eligible for showcasing your photos in our galleries. Our galleries currently include Mardi Gras, Valentine’s Day and Nature, but there is always more to come! If you don’t have Facebook or Instagram, you can also upload your photo to the JaxCoSnaps section on our site

Wait, isn’t this like Snapchat or Instagram? 

Good question. But no, not at all. JaxCoSnaps is a unique platform on its own. You can view different galleries of photos submitted by people from all over Jackson County, and you don’t even have to follow/friend them. How cool is that? And if your photo is featured, it can be seen by over 100,000 of our monthly site visitors. We bet that’s more than your Instagram followers. 

What kind of photos do I send?

JaxCoSnaps can be used for any and all photos highligting the best aspects of Jackson County. You can tag a photo of a beautiful sunset on Front Beach or your favorite restaurant in Pascagoula- the possibilities are endless! And the best part? It’s FREE! We want to see your photos of the views you love most in the county. So, get snap’n, Jackson County! 

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American Heart Association asks Jackson Countians to “Go Red” on Friday, February 2

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Ask any stylist, job coach or dating expert and they’ll tell you that red stands out. Eyes are immediately drawn to it. Some even say that the color red is a confidence booster and makes you feel powerful. Maybe that’s why the American Heart Association chose the color red to signify the fight against the No. 1 killer in women.

In 2003, the American Heart Association and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute took action against a disease that was claiming the lives of nearly 500,000 American women each year – a disease that women weren’t paying attention to. A disease they truly believed, and many still believe to this day, affects more men than women.

Stemming from that action, National Wear Red Day was born. It’s held on the first Friday in February every year to raise awareness about heart disease being the No. 1 killer of women.

This coming National Wear Red Day, Feb. 2, 2018, will mark 15 years since the initial National Wear Red Day, which was first observed to bring national attention to the fact that heart disease is the #1 killer of women, and to raise awareness of women’s heart health.

In the decade-and-a-half since National Wear Red Day originated, great strides have been made regarding cardiovascular disease in women. They include:

• Nearly 90% of women have made at least one healthy behavior change.
• More than one-third of women has lost weight.
• More than 50% of women have increased their exercise.
• 6 out of 10 women have changed their diets.
• More than 40% of women have checked their cholesterol levels.
• One third of women has talked with their doctors about developing heart health plans.
• Today, nearly 300 fewer women die from heart disease and stroke each day.
• Death in women has decreased by more than 30 percent over the past 10 years.

But despite that progress, more work is crucial. 1 in 3 women die of heart disease and stroke each year. But what’s more powerful? Millions of mothers, sisters, daughters and friends making a change. The Go Red movement, through campaigns like National Wear Red Day, seeks to build upon those success and rally an overwhelming network of women, care providers, and researchers to conquer cardiovascular disease once and for all.

Why go Red?
Heart disease and stroke cause 1 in 3 deaths among women each year, killing approximately one woman every 80 seconds. Fortunately, we can change that because 80 percent of cardiac and stroke events may be prevented with education and action. That’s why this year we are asking that you wear red on National Wear Red Day® ,February 2, 2018, encourage others to do the same and make the time to Know Your Numbers. Five numbers, that all women should know to take control of their heart health are: Total Cholesterol, HDL (good) Cholesterol, Blood Pressure, Blood Sugar and Body Mass Index (BMI). Knowing these numbers can help women and their healthcare provider determine their risk for developing cardiovascular diseases.

Here’s how you can get involved in the Go Red movement, and show your support for the American Heart Association mission to create longer, healthier lives for everyone.

Wear red.
On National Wear Red Day®, be sure to wear something red to show your support for women with heart disease and stroke. Get your #GoRedWearRed gear from!

Share your photos.
Take a selfie, organize your office to wear red, paint your neighborhood red, organize a neighborhood walk wearing red, dress your family up in red. However you Go Red, take photos and share them using the hashtag – #WearRedandGive.

Join the conversation.
Like Go Red For Women on Facebook and Instagram. Follow us on Twitter to get daily inspiration, photos, quotes, heart disease news, healthy living tips and more. Better yet, like and share photos with you friends or be a part of the conversation by sharing what going red means to you.

Donate directly to Go Red For Women. By doing so you help support educational programs to increase women’s awareness and critical research to discover scientific knowledge about cardiovascular health.

For more information on how you, your business, or your organization can become engaged in the Go Red movement on the MS Gulf Coast, please contact Jackson County Heart Walk Director Ashleigh Gaddy at or by calling (228) 604-5317 (desk) or (228) 236-5830 (cell).

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January is National Blood Donor Month

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Throughout January, the American Red Cross is celebrating National Blood Donor Month and recognizing the generous individuals who roll up a sleeve to help save lives. The winter months can be especially difficult to collect enough blood and platelets to meet patient needs, and this winter is proving to be a challenging one. John McFarland, Executive Director of South East Mississippi’s Chapter of the Red Cross, says blood is always needed, but winter is when they experience the greatest shortage. 

National Blood Donor Month has been observed in January since 1970 with the goal of increasing blood and platelet donations during winter – one of the most difficult times of year to collect enough blood products to meet patient needs. Inclement winter weather – like what the U.S. is experiencing so far this year – often results in cancelled blood drives, and seasonal illnesses, like the flu, may cause some donors to become temporarily unable to donate.

The Red Cross urges healthy donors who have made a commitment to donate during the winter months to keep their appointments. Each appointment kept, and each donation given, offers hope to a patient in need. McFarland says there are 22 blood drives scheduled along the Coast this month.

“Every 3 seconds someone is needing blood”, he added. “Blood is something that can’t be synthesized or manufactured, so it’s important that there’s an inventory of blood available in the hospitals”, says McFarland.  

Blood can be safely donated every 56 days. Platelets can be given every seven days – up to 24 times a year. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in most states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements. Donors with blood types O negative, B negative, and platelet donors are especially encouraged to make an appointment to give.

For more information or to schedule an appointment to donate, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit Donors can also use the Red Cross Blood Donor App, which is free and available for download now. It can be found in app stores by searching for American Red Cross, visiting or, or by texting BLOODAPP to 90999 for a direct link to download. Message and data rates for texting may apply.

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Ocean Springs High School Presents Award-Winning Production of “Inuk and the Sun”

This weekend in Jackson County, families can beat the chilly weather outside and experience some indoor entertainment as Ocean Springs High School Theatre Department presents its award-winning production of “Inuk and the Sun.”

“It’s a great opportunity to experience the arts,” OSHS Theatre Department Director Chris Permenter said. “These kids pour their heart into their craft. It’s unique to find such a strong group of students who come together and create something beautiful.”

Permenter said the production has a cast and crew of 50 students, half of whom are actors and the other half serve as technical crew. The department does an entire season of shows, including three MainStage productions – a fall show, a winter show and a spring show, with four studio pieces in the spring by the advanced theatre classes.

“Inuk and the Sun,” an original story based on characters from Inuit mythology, follows a young boy named Inuk as he journeys to save his people and become a man. Inuk is the Inuit word for “human being,” and the plot echoes the universal experience of growing up and coming to terms with life and death. 

In his second year as director, Permenter said he has created a student-based program and tries to always choose a strong season that not only fits the actors, designers, and tech crew’s strengths but also their weaknesses –  to challenge them to become better artist and not just do shows that they are comfortable with.

“With the amount of puppetry, mask, and headdresses used in the show it takes a village to make it possible,” Permenter said. “The show is completely student-designed. My set, costume, props, makeup, and sound designer students started designing in May of 2017. It’s a very long process, but that’s why the kids love it – every rehearsal you find something new. The actors play spirits, northern lights, seals, and so many more exciting characters.” 

In addition, Permenter said the fall show is always the show used in competitions. “Inuk and the Sun” has earned OSHS a number of awards, including All-Star Cast, Best Director, Best Costumes and Best Non-Human Characters. “Inuk and the Sun” will also be taken to the Mississippi Theatre Association Festival in Columbus, Miss., from Jan. 11 to 15  to compete for the state title.

The department was also one of 40 high schools across the nation chosen to perform internationally the American High School Theatre Festival. Permenter said 30 students from the theatre department will be going to Edinburgh, Scotland, the first two weeks of August to perform its spring production of “Metamorphoses” by Mary Zimmerman. Much of the proceeds from the shows and other fundraiser events are going toward this once-in-a-lifetime experience for these students.

“It is very important to have community support,” Permenter said. “This small town of Ocean Springs is being internationally recognized at the largest theatre festival in the world. My wish is for the community to come together and support these kids and their hard work.”

Performances start at 7 p.m. on January 5 and 6 at the Ocean Springs High School Robert E Hirsh Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students. Those who are interested in donating to the student trip to Scotland can do so by going to the the American High School Theatre Festival website and enter a “Gift of Performance” or contact Ocean Springs High School.

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