What are you doing in Shaw? This is the most common question I get asked when I talk to people about Delta Hands for Hope. Although answering "a little bit of everything" would be easier, I tell people about all the programs that we are doing, about the people I am meeting, and about the planning I am doing for the future. Summer 2014 has been very busy, and now that school is back in session, I have time to tell you what we've done. Our first program was a USDA grant for the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), sponsored by Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Mississippi (CBFMS) where we were able to feed kids ages 18 and younger twice a week all summer long. This was a perfect first program for us.
Here are some of the other programs/events we did in Shaw this summer:
- Teen Pizza and Game Night
- Baking Day
- Feed and Read (Literacy program on the days of the SFSP)
- Community Clean-up (co-sponsored with the City of Shaw)
- Shaw Community Leadership meeting
- Beautification projects
We also had three churches come to Shaw. University Baptist Church (Hattiesburg, MS), First Baptist Church (Waco, TX), and Wilton Baptist Church (Wilton, CT) all came to help in Shaw. UBC Hattiesburg helped set up a CBFMS-sponsored welcoming celebration for me, worked with the Presentation Sisters, and planned projects for future trips to Shaw. FBC Waco painted several classrooms and hallways, and redid two bathrooms at McEvans Elementary School in Shaw. They also worked the Forever Youthful Center, hosted a baking day for the adults and children, and planned science and art projects for the SFSP. WBC (CT) helped with a leadership meeting in Shaw, met with ministers in Cleveland, attended Rotary and Exchange Club in Cleveland, helped with the SFSP, and sponsored a end-of-the-summer carnival. I am blessed to have met every person that came to work with me in Shaw, and I look forward to them coming back to Shaw!
I observed many things from hosting groups in Shaw. Some had come several times before, and some were coming for the first time. For all the workers who had come before, it was wonderful hearing about what they had done before, who they had worked with, and all the experiences they had. For the first timers, it was great hearing their initial impressions of Shaw. I have noticed when people come to Shaw for the first time, they initially notice the poverty and all the typical stereotypes of what normally comes with poverty. After a day or two, they talk about all the wonderful things about Shaw: the amazing kids, the leaders that are working tirelessly to benefit their community, and the great potential. I loved seeing the transformation in their views about Shaw!
I am so excited to be working with Delta Hands for Hope. Shaw is a wonderful place to be, and I love working with the kids and meeting the adults. DHH is in the process of buying a building in Shaw, and we are planning for many different events for the fall. I'm excited to meet more of the kids, and do many different and fun projects with them! Great things are happening in Shaw, and I'm excited to be a part of it!