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

1505924577544 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 ccms.org.

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JaxCoHome Proudly Introduces #JaxCoSnaps

jaxcosnaps-slide 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

Go-Red-Women-Multicultural-Group 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 Shopheart.com!

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.
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 ashleigh.gaddy@heart.org or by calling (228) 604-5317 (desk) or (228) 236-5830 (cell).

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What’s with the Baby in King Cakes?

kingcakebaby What's with the Baby in King Cakes?

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King Cakes are a traditional dessert loved by all during the Mardi Gras season. They come in a variety of flavors from cheese cake to chocolate and is known for its sweet icing and colorful frosting. But what’s the deal with the plastic baby inside the cake? There are many beliefs as to what the baby actually represents, so JaxCoHome wanted to research the history of the baby and king cake; how it’s relevant to Mardi Gras; and what it means if you get a piece with a plastic baby in the middle. 

King Cakes can actually be found as early as the beginning of the year and at the center of celebrations through early spring. Some associate it with Mardi Gras, others with a celebration known as Epiphany. According to Eater, King cake is eaten on January 6 in honor of Epiphany, or Twelfth Night, which historically marks the arrival of the three wise men/kings in Bethlehem who delivered gifts to the baby Jesus. King cake also appears on tables throughout the Carnival season, which runs from Epiphany to Fat Tuesday (the day before Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent).

Many people call King Cakes different names and it comes in a variety of shapes, sizes and styles. Most people are familiar with with the dough-like consistency twisted into a ring, filled with a wide array of flavors and decorated with colored icing and sprinkles. The glaze is the most popular part of the cake, including the three colors found on top: gold, green and purple. Variants can be made from cake batter or bread dough or pastry, but almost all versions are shaped into a circle or oval to mimic the appearance of a king’s crown. 

Every king cake contains a trinket — often a small figurine in the shape of a baby — which plays a crucial part in the celebration of the holiday that inspired this pastry. There are two theories behind the trinket in the cake. Some believe the plastic baby is symbolism of Baby Jesus because of the religious connection to King’s Day. Others, however, believe the popular New Orleans lore, which suggests that an elaborate cake was served with a bean or ring placed inside during the commemoration of the king’s ball in colonial Louisiana. Whoever found the bean or trinket in his or her slice of cake would be crowned the king or queen of the balls leading up to the lavish finale on Mardi Gras. 

Now, instead of using a bean or a ring the plastic baby is mostly used today as an emblem of good luck. Though as history would have it, the lucky individual who scores the piece of king cake with the baby inside is said to gain favor, and they’re also tasked with hosting duties and bringing their own king cake for next year’s revelry.

So, you’re probably craving one now, right? Well, you’re in luck because there are plenty of bakeries in Jackson County who make these delicious, seasonal treats. Our favorite is Crazy B’s Coffee & Confections located in Pascagoula. Owner of the bakery, Susan, says they sell out of their famous king cake bites every year. “It’s like a mini ball of king cake”, she said. “It makes a great party tray to bring to your Mardi Gras party for everyone to share.” 

For all updates and information for Mardi Gras in Jackson County, visit our Mardi Gras section on our site and Facebook page

 

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January is National Blood Donor Month

blood-donate 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 redcrossblood.org. 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 redcross.org/apps or redcrossblood.org/bloodapp, or by texting BLOODAPP to 90999 for a direct link to download. Message and data rates for texting may apply.

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Refinery Competition Benefits Backpack Buddies

BackPackBuddies2017-5-1 Refinery Competition Benefits Backpack Buddies

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Employee Networks at Chevron Pascagoula Re nery hosted a friendly competition throughout the month of July to bene t less-fortunate children in the Pascagoula School District through the Backpack Buddies program.

The eight participating networks collected a total of 16,171 items and $3,845 in monetary donations (more than $7,000 when matched by Chevron Humankind).

The point system for the food drive competition assigned 1 point for 1 item, and 4 points for every $1 donation.

Rather than the Networks competing against each other, donated money and food items were assigned by the giver to a college football team. The winner of the food drive competition was Itawamba Community College (Fulton, Miss.), with a total of 21,938 points, and the school’s ag will be own at the Re nery Main Gate in honor of this ‘win.’

The Backpack Buddies program was started in 1995 by a school nurse in Little Rock, Ark., who realized that children coming to her with headaches and stomach aches were actually su ering from hunger, not illness. At that time,
she began sending food home with the children in their backpacks on Fridays. The school where she worked saw an immediate improvement in grades and in enthusiasm in the children. From that time, the program has spread throughout the country. In Jackson County alone, there are Backpack Buddies programs in Gautier, Ocean Springs, Pascagoula and Moss Point.

Special thanks to Michael Keyser (Technical) and Nelson Devin (Technical) for leading this year’s food drive.

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Pay it Forward Friday: Greg Bufkin

thank6 Pay it Forward Friday: Greg Bufkin

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In March of 2016, Greg Bufkin checked himself into the Home of Grace, a faith-based drug treatment center, for three months after a near-death experience from a drug overdose. Bufkin best describes himself to this day as a recovering addict. For many years he was addicted to pain killers after being prescribed them for a migraine under a doctor’s care. 

Through the duration of his stay, Greg and his wife noticed a gap with the patient’s addiction and their family members. “If you don’t’ treat the family at the same time and the same way you’re helping the addicts, then you’re missing a big portion of addiction”, says Bufkin. This discovery led Bufkin and his wife to start El Roi Ministries. El Roi (pronounced ‘row-eye’) aims to bridge that gap by building a network of churches, counselors, companies, charities and skilled individuals to help these families. 

“When I was in rehab, I lost my salary and things were happening with my family and our house that needed to be paid for”, says Bufkin. “Life goes on while you’re in rehab and most of these addicts’ family members don’t have the same support system”, he said.

El Roi’s mission is to first help the physical needs of these families and secondly educate them. Bufkin stressed how the family’s adaptation to the addict’s release from these programs is just as important as the addict’s. “If what the family is doing before the addict goes into rehab isn’t changed when they come out, why should you expect the result to be that much different?”, says Bufkin. “And how do they know what to do differently unless you educate them”, added Bufkin. 

El Roi isn’t just Home of Grace specific. They work with many other rehab organizations, churches, and facilitations. Recently, the El Roi ministry team volunteered to feed the people at Home of Grace by providing a Thanksgiving meal. They had 30 volunteers from Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana, come together to spend Thanksgiving with the men at The Home of Grace in Vancleave, MS. “Some of our volunteers were former clients at The Home of Grace”, Bufkin said. “Some of the volunteers had loved ones who were previously clients, some were people who just wanted to spend Thanksgiving doing something for somebody else rather than doing the same old family gathering”, he said. 

Bufkin says it’s all about loving these people and letting them know they are there for them and their families before, during and after their rehabilitation. “If the family falls apart while the addict is in rehab, then the odds of the addict first finishing the program is slim; and even if they do then they won’t be sober long if the family is not stable enough”, Bufkin said. El Roi’s goal is to have agreements with these organizations and individuals to offer services for free or reduced rates.

Bufkin says he sees El Roi expanding to more churches and organizations over the next few years. Within the last year, they’ve expanded by reaching out to other organizations they had originally not intended to work with, including Steps Coalition. “My goal is to have people to follow up with these rehab/AA programs even if it may take them to a different facility, but with the core focus being on the family”, he said. 

Greg is also in the midst of writing an informational booklet detailing what addiction is and the best way to combat it with your family. “I’d like to call it something like ‘Addiction for Dummies'”, Bufkin jokingly added. “I just want these families to understand why they behave like they do, so they are coming home to an understanding and educated environment after treatment”, said Bufkin. 

Bufkin also encourages people who would like to volunteer for the El Rio ministry to message their Facebook page. “We can always use folks to help make phone calls, companies and people to offer free or reduced services for families of addicts in recovery who are in need”, said Bufkin. “Even if it’s five minutes or a few hours, we’ll find somewhere you can help out”, he said. 

 

 

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Volunteers from Three States Make Thanksgiving Special at The Home of Grace

Thanksgiving is a time where families come together to laugh, love, fellowship, and eat. In South Mississippi, we are no different, with a few exceptions.

There are people, of course, who may not have friends or family nearby to spend Thanksgiving with. Some people have to work. We always want to be mindful of those who serve in the military and are far away from home. We want to say a very special thank you to those men and women, as well. There are, however, people much closer to home who are fighting a very different kind of battle. This battle is also keeping them away from their families on Thanksgiving. I am talking about those men and women who are in rehabilitation programs fighting addiction.

My name is Greg Bufkin. From March of 2016 thru June of 2016, I was a client at one of our area rehabs. I had been battling an addiction to prescription pain medication for almost 13 years. I was in treatment for my birthday, anniversary, Easter, mother’s birthday, and Mother’s Day. Rehab can be a very lonely place at times, but especially when you’re missing holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries.

My wife and I are the founders of El Roi (pronounced “row-eye”) Ministries. We founded El Roi in response to two very big needs we noticed (while i was in treatment) that men and women in treatment have. The first need was the family of the addict. The family has financial, educational, and emotional needs that were often unmet. If the family of the person in treatment is faltering or failed while they were in rehab, their odds of success were significantly decreased. The second need was that the addict needed to be loved on while in treatment. They needed help in breaking the cycle of shame and guilt that all addicts find themselves in. Without being loved on it can be very difficult for the addict to maintain the motivation to continue the hard work of recovery.

 

One of the ways we go about loving on the addicts is by providing lunch on Thanksgiving Day. For Thanksgiving 2017, we had 30 volunteers from Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana, come together to spend Thanksgiving with the men at The Home of Grace, in Vancleave, MS. Some of our volunteers were former clients at The Home of Grace. Some of the volunteers had loved ones who were previously clients, some were people who just wanted to spend Thanksgiving doing something for somebody else rather than doing the same old family gathering.

eddie Volunteers from Three States Make Thanksgiving Special at The Home of Grace

Eddie, who is from Hattiesburg, was one of our volunteers. He is a former client of The Home of Grace. When asked about why he was giving up thanksgiving with his family to be there he said, “So many people did things to show me that i was loved, while i was at The Home of Grace. I just want to demonstrate to those who are there now, that they are loved as well. I guess you could say I’m giving back just like it was given to me.”

eddie Volunteers from Three States Make Thanksgiving Special at The Home of Grace

Another volunteer, Darren, who is a resident of Jackson County, had plans with his family later that day. This is what he had to say when he was asked about his participation, “You know, i could’ve slept in or gone to the gym. I could’ve done several different things that were about me. But one of the things I’ve learned about fighting addiction is that we have been selfish for so long. One way to break that pattern is to serve others. I love the Home of Grace for what it did for my life, and I want to give back, just to show the love of Jesus to these men.”

eddie Volunteers from Three States Make Thanksgiving Special at The Home of Grace

Troy is another former client who came from Slidell, LA to volunteer. Troy had this to say to the men at The Home of Grace, “I was here for Thanksgiving during my time. I can remember a group coming in and feeding us. It just melted my heart that these people would come in and love on us like that. I want to do the same for you guys. I want you to know that you are loved and that there is hope for you.”

The most amazing thing about the day was simply how much food was donated and provided by various people to make this day possible. We had 20 turkeys (The Shed was kind enough to smoke these for us), 4 gallons of gravy, over 400 dinner rolls, over 500 individual dessert servings, green beans, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and more. We fed all of the men, offered seconds to anybody who wanted it, and left enough food for two more meals per man. There was A LOT of food. More important than all of that was the chance we had to love these men, and demonstrate our thankfulness for all that we have, by giving to those who need it most on this Thanksgiving. It was truly a great day.

If you, or someone you know, is battling an addiction, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We will help in way that we possibly can. You can check out our web site www.elroiprovides.org check us out on Facebook, www.facebook.com/elroiprovides

You can also come to Celebrate Recovery at Mosaic Church in Ocean Springs, Thursdays at 6:30. Mosaic has groups for addicts, groups for the family members of addicts, groups for teenagers struggling with addiction, as well as grief share, divorce care, and men struggling with pornography. Child care is provided.

Below you will find more pictures of our Thanksgiving Meal.

eddie Volunteers from Three States Make Thanksgiving Special at The Home of Graceeddie Volunteers from Three States Make Thanksgiving Special at The Home of Graceeddie Volunteers from Three States Make Thanksgiving Special at The Home of Graceeddie Volunteers from Three States Make Thanksgiving Special at The Home of Graceeddie Volunteers from Three States Make Thanksgiving Special at The Home of Grace

 

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Mayfield Family Shares Story of Miracles for Prematurity Awareness Month

488020_644211508943800_4214605_n Mayfield Family Shares Story of Miracles for Prematurity Awareness Month

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Hanna and Matt Mayfield are familiar faces in Pascagoula, Mississippi. With Matt co-owning ‘Goula’s famous, Tay’s BBQ a lot of people recognize the family name and their deliciously famous menu items. However, they are also known for their survival story of their two little miracles.

November 17 is recognized as World Prematurity Day and serves as the focus of the March of Dimes’ Prematurity Awareness Month observance each year. The Mayfield family relates to this day as they recall the miraculous story of the birth of their premature twin daughters.

In October of 2011, Hanna Mayfield was taken into emergency c-section at USA’s Children’s and Women’s Hospital in Mobile, Alabama. Mayfield says there was no explanation as to why she went into labor so early, but prepared to face the reality of giving birth to premature twins. She was only 5 months pregnant at the time, barely mid-way through her 2nd trimester. 

Bowen and Taylor were born at 22 weeks and 5 days and were considered to be ‘micro-premies’- weighing even smaller than a typical premature baby. Bowen weighed 1 pound and Taylor 15.3 ounces. “Their lungs weren’t working like they were supposed to- it was a lot of treatment and things to keep an eye on every hour, every few hours”, says Mayfield. 

But the family decided to remain positive with lots of prayer and trust in the top-rated NICU center at Children’s and Women’s. “Every one of the doctors and nurses at the hospital are angels”, she said. “Being able to do their job with a smile on their face, while helping these parents is incredible”, says Mayfield. In fact, USA’s NICU center is one of the only local hospitals to give babies born before 24 weeks a chance to survive by putting them on a ventilator. “If we lived in any other city, we may have not been accepted into a hospital to keep our babies alive”, she said. The babies remained in the NICU for the next few months, with Taylor having additional complications and surgeries which kept her there for a total of 7 months. 

The challenge of having premature babies doesn’t stop at the hospital. After bringing the girls home, Matt and Hanna were given strict schedules and guidelines to follow to ensure they were being taken care of properly and would remain healthy. Parents of premature babies have to take caution when bringing them home due to their low immune system. “We couldn’t go out in public and they advised against bringing people around our babies”, said Hanna. “They even told us, ‘If you go out to the grocery store and come back, you have to shower and change clothes before you can even hold your baby'”, she said. The family had to be conscious of every move they made to ensure the girls’ health remained in good state. 

After many routine checkups, the girls caught up to their appropriate weight and grew to become wonderfully excelled children. The twins recently celebrated their 6th birthday last month. “They’re healthy, thriving in school, running around and taking dance lessons-perfectly normal little girls”, said Mayfield. “We could have easily had many difficulties with the girls, but we were fortunate they grew up without any problems”, she said. “I think it’s just being aware of germs, being mindful of their low immune systems and sticking to the plan the nurses and doctors give you is the reason for it”, says Hanna. 

According to the March of Dimes, 1 in 10 women will give birth to a premature child. Like the Mayfield family, many women, including those in Jackson County, will face the difficulty of having premature children. “It’s very easy to get down and depressed that you can’t hold your premature baby like an average-sized one”, says Hanna. But she encourages families who are facing this, “Keep your chin up, stay positive, pray and get your prayer warriors around you”, she said. 

For more information on World Prematurity Day or the March of Dimes, visit their website

 

 

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Pay it Forward Friday: Scott Lemon Awarded Humanitarian Award

Scott-Lemon-Pic Pay it Forward Friday: Scott Lemon Awarded Humanitarian Award

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Last week, The Mississippi Gulf Coast YMCA appointed Scott Lemon as the 2017 recipient of the John R. Blossman Humanitarian Award at their annual banquet. Scott has been a key leader in the Gulf Coast area for the past three decades, serving the area not only through his profession, but also by his dedicated volunteering and the high standard he has set through his example as a husband, father, grandfather, and colleague and friend to many.

After graduating from Mississippi State University, Scott began his career in textile manufacturing. However, it wasn’t long before he felt led to follow in his grandfather and father’s footsteps and pursue a career in the insurance industry. He and his wife, Barbara, moved to Ocean Springs with their three daughters where Scott stepped into his dad’s shoes to co-manage Lemon-Mohler Insurance with Mark Mohler after his dad’s retirement.

Scott’s influence has been and continues to be widely felt along the Gulf Coast. He is involved with numerous boards, associations and affiliations, including the Mississippi Gulf Coast YMCA, St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, Young Life, the Women’s Resources Center and the Home of Grace. He values integrity and accountablility, which stem from his deep faith in God, his love for the church, and for his family. “We certainly believe the young people of our community are our future and that’s why we support these organizations”, says Lemon. 

Scott knew when he married Barbara 29 years ago that he “married up;” she is gracious, genuine, and compassionate with a servant’s heart. Scott says she completes him. He and Barbara enjoy spending time with their daughters and families, which now includes grandson, Charlie, and they are excitedly awaiting the arrival of their second grandson.

The John R. Blossman Humanitarian Award was created in order to recognize individuals, like John, who put his fellow man first and is given each year at a banquet proudly hosted by the Beau Rivage Resort Casino. All who knew John Blossman felt his deep love for the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Much of his life was spent in service to organizations that positively impacted the lives of others. The sponsorships and proceeds from the banquet help support the YMCA’s Strong Kids Campaign. With your financial assistance through sponsorships or donations, the YMCA is able to have a lasting impact on thousands of Gulf Coast children, teens and their families every year.”The YMCA has been a huge part of my life”, he said. “I’ve grown up there and have seen the organization help so many people through working with the mind, body and spirit”, says Lemon. 

It is clear that Lemon makes consistent efforts to help others and is a deserving community member to receive this award. When asked how people can get can get involved in the community, he encourages others to seek out and help your neighbors in times of need. “Find an organization you dearly love and serve it with all your heart and soul, and you won’t feel like you’re giving anything up.”  

Pay it Forward Fridays:

JaxCoHome would love to hear about people doing good in our community. If you know someone that is a champion for our community, the environment, education or local business, fill out the nomination form by clicking here.

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