Sometimes living Mississippi Strong takes little more than being aware of the people you see all the time and being willing to help them if you can. We visited with a Mount Olive couple who has a suggestion for the rest of us.
It’s hard to know where to start this story because I feel like I came in in the middle of it. But when I met Jerry and Lola Vaughn, Lola wanted me to see zip lock packages of quick snacks or packs of soap and tooth past and stuff like that, they give to people standing on the side of the road who are usually wanting money.
And they see quite a few such people as they take care of their Jani-King janitorial service franchise that they have over south Mississippi, traveling from place to place.
Jerry says, “It’s pretty much widespread," said Jerry. "I mean just about everywhere we go we’re going to run into somebody that’s homeless, that’s out on the street, haven’t had anything to eat all day."
My buddy Rusty Ryan at Gateway Rescue Mission in Jackson says the packs of necessities are a good idea, especially in lieu of handing out cash.
“I think that’s a great idea," said Ryan. "You know, I don’t encourage anybody to give anybody money. I’m not going to say no if the Lord leads you that way, follow God’s lead. But a care package is a perfect thing. Those care packages can be full of travel size everything. You can go down to Dollar Tree and fill up and have as many as you want.”
Lola Vaughn says seeing the humanity in a street person is what initiated her compassion.
“That was somebody’s brother or somebody’s child. And it only takes two or three months without paying your rent and you can be the same way," said Lola. "So I just started making my little zip lock bags and I said I would never pass by another homeless person again without doing something.”
So the idea of the packages came up and the Vaughn’s carry a bunch of them in their car wherever they go. And I want to say something about Jerry and Lola that I think you need to know, too. They were school teachers who were both out of work, not homeless, but no income for a long time, when they came up with their Jani-King franchise and now they employ over a hundred people in south Mississippi. But they know how close the street is, and are living Mississippi Strong for thinking about the folks who are there.
The Vaughn’s church in Hattiesburg, the Anointed Word of Christ, is having a seminar Friday and Saturday touching on a bunch of subjects including how to help the homeless; lots of speakers on a number of topics. For more information, contact Jackie Keys at 601-467-2220.
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