Spring Break: Not Just for Fun

Spring break for college teens is usually one filled with vacations and down time from a semester of projects and homework.  But for the college students at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK), an “alternative” spring break was planned.  They decided to travel 493 miles to spend the week in Jackson, Mississippi giving up their spring break to volunteer their services around the city.  One of their stops was the Hinds County Human Resource Agency (HCHRA).

Amanda Kuipers, a UTK Child and Family Studies, Pre K-3 student, was the team leader for the group of 14 community volunteers that came to Jackson the week of March 12, 2018 to donate their time to Hinds County Human Resource Agency’s Meals on Wheels Program and the Little Bethel Neighborhood Service Center Congregate Site in Terry, Mississippi.  Kuipers states, “Each year, our Center for Leadership and Service Program chooses a theme in which we are to participate during the week of spring break, but the location is not revealed to the students until they are on the bus so that students don’t choose a trip based solely on location.  Though some students focus on one organization during the entire spring break week, we chose to service different locations each day.  All the trips in this program are student led, but we do get advice from our directors.”  This year’s theme was “Food Insecurity in Public Health.”

The UTK students were instructed to complete an online search for areas within an 8-hour distance pertaining to the theme and saw that Jackson, Mississippi was one of the locations.  From there, they queried local agencies in the Jackson area that focused on the theme.  HCHRA was one of the agencies they chose to volunteer with during their alternative spring break.

For the period of their visit, the volunteers split into two groups. One group of seven volunteers went to Meals on Wheels with HCHRA Planning & Development Officer and Volunteer Coordinator Jessica Davis, while the other group of seven went to Little Bethel’s congregate site with HCHRA Communications Specialist Carlene J. Parker.  Both groups of volunteers spent time visiting and talking with the elderly at their respective homes or site while servicing their needs.  Meals on Wheels volunteers greeted the seniors with a hearty smile and open heart as they delivered the meals to their homes.  Volunteers who visited Little Bethel, read to the seniors, listened to their daily devotional and then served them their meals.  The seniors also engaged the volunteers as they shared some of their life experiences and healthy wisdom.

As students rode from the Little Bethel site, volunteer Madelyn Weas, a UTK Chemical Engineering student commented, “It was good to be able to sit and talk with them and get to know them a little instead of just handing them a meal.” Other volunteers from the UTK included Mustafa Salameh, Katie Shannon, Thomas Hyde, Jared Smith and Emily Joyner.

Designed to promote the general health and well-being of older individuals, HCHRA’s Congregate Meals program provides seniors with a hot “sit-down” style meal at gathering sites throughout Hinds County. This service is intended to reduce hunger and food insecurity, promote socialization, and delay the onset of adverse health conditions.  In addition to serving healthy meals and providing opportunities for social engagement, the program gives seniors information on healthy aging and meaningful volunteer roles.  HCHRA’s Home Delivered Meal program delivers five nutritious, well-balanced and easy-to-prepare meals each week to elderly citizens and to people with disabilities who reside in rural Hinds County that are unable to leave home without assistance.  To learn more about HCHRA and its programs and services, visit www.hchra.org.

Project SOAR! HCHRA’s Biggest Community Event Ever

Tuesday, March 6, 2018, marked a stellar day for the Hinds County Human Resource Agency (HCHRA), which hosted a massive community outreach event called Project SOAR – a Services, Opportunities, Assistance and Resources Fair – held at New Horizon Event Center in Jackson, Mississippi.  Approximately 400 people attended the fair and received a wealth of information on education, finance, health, safety, social and legal services from dozens of speakers and exhibitors.  Through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), HCHRA provided energy assistance to 172 Hinds County residents, on the spot.

HCHRA, the only community action agency in Hinds County, Mississippi, administers LIHEAP for the entire county.  LIHEAP is a federal grant that offers assistance to help low-income families pay their energy bills for heating or cooling their homes, and offers additional help in cases of energy crisis, such as utility shutoffs for households in immediate danger of being without heating or cooling.  “One of HCHRA’s primary goals for Project SOAR was to promote awareness about LIHEAP and to make it available to anyone in need who met the qualifications for the program,” said Kenn Cockrell, president and CEO of HCHRA.  “The assistance provided through LIHEAP creates some relief from the financial strain low-income families experience and helps to create greater stability in the home.  Receiving payment assistance on energy bills, means that families will have more income available to address other household responsibilities.”

Typically, anyone interested in receiving LIHEAP services would have to schedule an appointment to meet with a case manager to apply for assistance.  According to HCHRA, the need is so great, appointments are now being scheduled three to six weeks out.  During Project SOAR, no appointment was needed.  HCHRA had 20 case managers onsite to meet with clients one-on-one to determine eligibility and provide immediate relief.

Over the years, HCHRA has organized various events in the communities it serves.  Project SOAR, however, was the agency’s largest community outreach event to date.  In addition to providing direct services, HCHRA invited a diverse group of corporate and community partners to conduct informative talks and offer valuable resources.  Health screenings were provided by volunteers from the University of Mississippi Medical Center.  BankPlus, a corporate partner, conducted a community forum on financial management.  Sam Buchanan, executive director of the Mississippi Center for Legal Services Corporation, conducted a forum and set up an exhibitor booth to offer free civil legal assistance on foreclosures, school loans, deeds and trusts to eligible attendees.  Some of the other forums provided information on voter registration, child safety, disease management and support for families and individuals living with mental illness.  HCHRA had staff on hand to provide information about Head Start, its preschool education program which serves children ages 0 to 5 and offers a variety of health and social support services for its students and their families.  They also provided attendees with information on their senior programs, home delivered meals, adult education, rental assistance, transportation, and emergency services programs.  AARP served as an exhibitor and shared information on the AARP Foundation’s Fresh Savings, a healthy-food incentive program which also has a nutrition education component.  Erin Smith of the AARP Foundation stated, “This is a wonderful event. We thank the agency for letting us be a part of the fair.”

“Project SOAR was a community resource fair created to address many of the barriers households in poverty face: from day-to-day crises to long-term need for jobs and education.  The agency plans to make it an annual event,” said Cockrell.

If you are in need of assistance but you were unable to attend Project SOAR, call HCHRA at (601) 962-5935 to schedule an appointment with a case manager to discuss opportunities.  You can also visit www.hchra.org to learn more about HCHRA and its programs and services.

Head Start Centers Get New Signs. Can You See Us Now?

HCHRA recently installed new signage at several of its Head Start Centers located throughout Hinds County.  This was a major project that took months to complete, but was well worth the time and effort.

HCHRA has operated the Head Start Program since 1976.  Over the years, signs were erected as new centers were opened and then they were replaced when needed.  “Some of our signs displayed our old logo and needed to be updated, and several were simply worn due to years of exposure to the elements,” said Kenn Cockrell, HCHRA’s president and CEO.  “Head Start offers a very high quality education program, and we want our signage to reflect that.”  Cockrell went on to explain that in addition to achieving uniformity among all centers and promoting visibility in the community, the signs were installed as part of the program’s safety plan to ensure that all of its sites are easily identifiable in case of emergencies.

The Head Start center located in Terry, Mississippi, was named (posthumously) in honor of Eulander P. Kendrick in 2002.  Mrs. Kendrick joined Head Start in 1969 as a teacher aide and served as center administrator from August 1990 until her retirement in August 2000.  Under her leadership, the Terry Head Start Center was the first center to receive accreditation by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).  Joseph O. Kendrick, Sr., the husband of the late Eulander Kendrick, commented, “I was proud to see the new signs installed.  It’s been a long time coming.  The Head Start Center was my wife’s pride and joy.  She would spend countless hours at night working on lesson plans for her kids’ class work for the next day.  She was dedicated to making sure that all the children would be ready for the next level in their education. ” Mr. Kendrick’s son, Joseph Jr., serves as the mayor of the town of Terry.  Mayor Kendrick says, “This really means a lot to my father because he hoped that this would be done while he was still alive.  When we saw the new signs, family members began to stop and take pictures.  We are very appreciative.  They look great.”

Mayor Kendrick submitted photos of the new signs to be included in the town of Terry’s history book marking their 150th year celebration in hopes they will make the publication not only to celebrate the legacy of his mother, but to also mark the longstanding presence of Head Start and its historic role in the education of young children in the community.

Like the building and ground signs installed at Eulander P. Kendrick Head Start, new signage has been installed at the Edwards, Oak Forest, Richard Brandon, Edwards, Gertrude Ellis, Mary C. Jones, Martin, Midtown, St. Thomas, South Jackson, Welcome, and Westside Head Start Centers.  Can you see us now?

HCHRA Meets 100% of CSBG Program Standards

On March 19, 2018, Hinds County Human Resource Agency (HCHRA) received notice from the Mississippi Department of Human Services that following a review by the Division of Community Services, HCHRA was found to have met 100% of the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) Program organization standards for 2017.

The Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Community Services (OCS), a federal entity, requires states to establish a set of organizational standards as part of performance management and accountability for the CSBG Program.  In the case of Hinds County Human Resource Agency, the Mississippi Department of Human Services has both the authority and responsibility for oversight for the agency’s CSBG Program.

The standards by which HCHRA’s performance was measured were designed to ensure that the agency has a capacity to provide high-quality services to low-income families and communities.  During its review, the Division of Community Services looked at HCHRA’s consumer input and involvement, community engagement, community assessment, organizational leadership, board governance, strategic planning, human resource management, and financial operations and oversight.

“To go from achieving 95% of the standards in 2016, to meeting 100% in 2017, is a testament to our commitment to continuous improvement,” said Kenn Cockrell, HCHRA president and CEO.  “We will continue to work to maintain the high standard of excellence that has been set.”

For more information on the organizational standards for CSBG eligible programs, visit www.nascsp.org/Performance-Management/967/Organizational-Standards.aspx.

Project SOAR! Tuesday, March 6, 2018 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. HCHRA’s Biggest Community Outreach Event Ever.

Hinds County Human Resource Agency (HCHRA) is hosting Project SOAR – a Services, Opportunities, Assistance and Resources fair – on Tuesday, March 6, 2018, for all of Hinds County.

Project SOAR is going to be a huge event.  HCHRA will have over 20 case managers available to provide utility payment assistance on the spot.  No appointment is necessary.  Not only will we offer energy assistance on this day, but there will also be health screenings, financial, medical, education, social and safety services – all in one place.

The following documents are required to receive utility payment assistance:

❑ Picture ID for ALL ADULT (18 years and over) household members
❑ Social Security cards for ALL household members
❑ Proof of all Household Income for ALL adults (18 years and older) must cover the “last 30 days.” If your proof of income does not cover the last 30 days, approval will be delayed.
❑ Current bills for which you want assistance
❑ Authorization of Release of Information (required annually). HCHRA will provide this document.
❑ Guardianship documentation for any children who are not direct legal child of person applying

To ensure compliance with all HCHRA, state, and federal laws, guidelines, rules, and
regulations, your application for assistance cannot be processed until all documentation is received. Additional documents may be required for other additional situations or specific services.

Please note, income includes employment wages, child support, unemployment benefits, VA pensions, private retirement, etc.

*If you gained employment or had any changes in employment within the last 30 days and do not have 30 days of income verification, you must be able to verify start, end or temporary off dates by a document on the company’s letterhead.

*If you receive or do not receive child support for children 18 years and under, you must submit a printed verification statement from MDHS to show that you receive child support, or a printed verification statement to show that you have applied for child support within the last 30 days.

Fixed Income for All Household Members: SSI and Social Security Benefits Verification Letter or Printout for current year (not a past year).

Self-Employed: Bring account books, purchase and sales receipts, copy of past year’s federal income tax return, or a notarized statement of verified income for last 30 days.

 

 

Hinds County Human Resource Agency Elects New 2017-2018 Policy Council Executive Officers

Hinds County Human Resource Agency (HCHRA) Project Head Start elected its Policy Council Executive Officers for the 2017-2018 school year.  A program operated by Hinds County Human Resource Agency, Project Head Start is designed to help break the cycle of poverty by providing preschool children of low-income families with a comprehensive program to meet their emotional, social, health, nutritional, and psychological needs.  Kenn Cockrell, president and chief executive officer of HCHRA, carries out the overall day-to-day operations of the Agency and supervises the vice president for Head Start and Early Childhood Programs, who is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Head Start Program.  A Board of Directors and Policy Council share governance of the program and believe in governance by “maximum feasible participation” – an idea that was formulated when the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 was enacted and suggests that low-income citizens can best determine what benefits them the most, and should therefore play an active role in the program design and administration of the services within their own community.  Dr. Joeann Williams, a community representative, was elected Chairman of the Policy Council.  Dr. Williams is a retired educator who resides in Jackson.  Dr. Andrea Montgomery, a Jackson resident who is employed with Tougaloo College, was elected Vice Chairman.  Like Dr. Williams, Dr. Montgomery is also a community representative.  Ebony Jenkins Owens, the parent of a Head Start student, was elected Secretary of the Policy Council.  Ms. Owens is employed with Grace & Mercy and resides in Edwards.  Angel Carter, elected Assistant Secretary, is also a Head Start parent.  She is employed with Homeinstead Senior Care and also resides in Edwards.  Gwen Wilks, a Head Start parent and a Mississippi Museum of Arts employee, was elected Member-at-Large.  Ms. Wilks resides in Jackson.

The Head Start program helps qualifying children succeed educationally by providing activities to help them grow mentally, socially, emotionally, and physically.  The education curriculum is formulated within the context of sound early childhood development principals and is designed to educated three- and four-year-olds and prepare them to be developmentally ready to transition into kindergarten.  Classroom environments are arranged to foster social and academic achievement in the eight Head Start domains in order to comply with program objectives. Teaching strategies and individual curriculum objectives are planned and developed by the teaching staff and parents and implemented according to children’s individual needs.  Head Start children socialize with others, solve problems, improve their listening and speaking skills, and have other experiences which help them to become self-confident learners.  Literacy and professional development activities are available for parents of children participating in Head Start.  Parents can receive financial assistance for obtaining GEDs or taking college classes or technical training.   “While education is the principal focus, promoting health and stability in the homes of our Head Start families is just as important,” said Cockrell.  “HCHRA is pleased to have a Policy Council made up of both Head Start parents and representatives from within the community to help ensure that we operate a highly effective program that yields positive results, now and in the future.”

Head Start Centers Closed Wednesday, January 17. Central Office and Neighborhood Services Centers Open at 10 a.m.

Due to the severe weather conditions in our area, all Hinds County Human Resource Agency Head Start Centers will be closed on Wednesday, January 17, 2018.  The centers will reopen on Thursday, and children may report to school at their usual time.

Central Office and all HCHRA Neighborhood Service Centers will open at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday.

Should severe weather conditions persist throughout the day, HCHRA will post any updates or changes to Agency operations here on our website.  If no additional updates are posted, HCHRA offices will be open on Wednesday at 10:00 a.m.

All HCHRA Offices Closed Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Due to dangerous winter weather and road conditions, all HCHRA offices will be closed on Tuesday, January 16, 2018.  Head Start Centers and HCHRA offices are scheduled to resume normal operations on Wednesday, January 17th.

If you had an appointment for assistance, we will make every effort to reschedule you within the next few days.  Please call 601.923.3950 to reschedule your appointment.

Conditions are favorable for ice formation on roads and bridges.  Authorities are encouraging everyone to stay off of the roads unless travel is absolutely necessary.

Head Start Centers Closed Tuesday, January 16. Central Office and Neighborhood Services Centers Open at 10 a.m.

Due to the threat of severe weather conditions in our area, all Hinds County Human Resource Agency Head Start Centers will be closed on Tuesday, January 16, 2018.  The centers will reopen on Wednesday, and children may report to school at their usual time.

Central Office and all HCHRA Neighborhood Service Centers will open at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday.

Should severe weather conditions persist throughout the day, HCHRA will post any updates or changes to Agency operations here on our website.  If no additional updates are posted, HCHRA offices will be open on Tuesday at 10:00 a.m.