HCHRA Receives $20,000 Innovative Community Project Award

Hinds County Human Resource Agency (HCHRA) was selected by the Mississippi Department of Human Services and the Mississippi Association of Community Action Agencies (MACAA) to receive the 2018 Innovative Community Project Award.

The Innovative Community Project Award was established by the Mississippi Department of Human Services to encourage Community Action Agencies throughout the state to accurately identify community needs, strategically develop solutions to the needs identified, and in turn, deliver high-quality services that yield measurable outcomes.

A panel made up of representatives from MDHS and MACAA reviewed the project submissions and selected HCHRA based on the merit of their application and program excellence.  Candace McDermott, executive director for MACAA, says Hinds County Human Resource Agency was the clear frontrunner for the award.  “They continue to show excellence in their projects and the impact they have on communities,” said McDermott. “They consistently meet organizational standards reviews, produce results and exhibit accountability.  They are a good role model for other agencies.”

After going through a stringent review process which looks at total program operations, ingenuity and service delivery, HCHRA was chosen from among 18 agencies in Mississippi to receive the $20,000 Innovative Community Project Award, which will be used to support ongoing operations and expand services.  HCHRA was announced as the recipient of the award at the MACAA Annual Conference held in December.

HCHRA is a public, non-profit Community Action Agency dedicated to helping families and strengthening communities.  For more than 41 years, HCHRA has built its solid reputation in eradicating poverty by empowering disadvantaged Hinds County citizens to become self-reliant and realize their full potential.  Through its Head Start, Early Head Start, congregate and home-delivered meals, home energy assistance, rural transportation, and case management programs, HCHRA continues to improve the conditions of children, families, single adults, the elderly and the disabled throughout Hinds County.  For more information on HCHRA programs and services, click here.

Hinds County Human Resource Agency Hosts 26th Annual Christmas Smorgasbord Luncheon

Hinds County Human Resource Agency (HCHRA) held its 26th Annual Christmas Smorgasbord Luncheon at its Central Office location on December 19, 2018.  The agency came together to celebrate the Christmas holiday season, and to fellowship with not only employees, but also with community leaders and elected officials throughout Hinds County, and with corporate partners from around the state.

Close to 300 guests enjoyed a wonderful holiday feast which consisted of turkey, ham, dressing and a variety of sides and desserts. HCHRA gave away door prizes that ranged from gift cards to ceramic dishes, bed sets and wall lamps – all donated by friends and supporters of the agency.  While the Smorgasbord has built up quite a reputation for having good food and gifts, the biggest attraction seems to be the Christmas decorations.

Each year, HCHRA holds an annual Christmas decorating competition among each department at Central Office to see which one comes out on top.  Administration, Children Services, Department of Family Opportunities, Fiscal, Head Start Administration, and Personnel were all a part of the competition.  The first place winner receives three days off with pay, second place receives two, while third place receives one.  Individual staff persons also have the opportunity to decorate their offices and office doors in hopes of winning a day off for a first place reward.  An independent panel of judges is selected from outside of the agency, and departments are judged on theme, creativity, originality, showmanship and special effects.  “While decorating is a serious competition among colleagues, the contest was created as a fun way to promote team building and create a festive environment for our employees as well as our guests to enjoy,” said Kenn Cockrell, HCHRA president and CEO.  The theme for the competition – “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot like Christmas” – really lived up to its name.  

“Staff came together and totally transformed Central Office into all things Christmas,” said Cockrell.  Administration won first place, with Children’s Services coming in second, and Head Start Administration coming in third.  Linda Norwood, purchasing specialist, won first place for best individual office, and Carlene Parker, communications specialist, won first place for best individual door.

The Christmas Smorgasbord came to a close with everyone joining in to sing Christmas carols, but not before the agency’s CEO shared words of appreciation and well wishes for the new year.  “I would like to thank everyone for coming here today and for the role that each of you plays in helping HCHRA remain successful.  I appreciate your hard work and dedication.  Let’s continue to reach new heights in 2019,” said Cockrell.  

Hinds County Human Resource Agency’s 2018 Community Strengths and Needs Assessment: Invoking Change

The Hinds County Human Resource Agency (HCHRA) held recently met with its employees to discuss the findings of its 2018 Community Strengths and Needs Assessment (CSNA). The purpose of the CSNA meeting was to endeavor to shift HCHRA’S focus from not only managing programs and providing short-term solutions to low-income individuals within the Hinds County community, but also to better understand its clientele in order to create success plans and offer opportunities that would positively strengthen and transform a family’s well-being long-term.

The Community Strengths and Needs Assessment is a community-wide report released each year to idenitify the strengths and resources available in the community to meet the needs of children, youth, and families of Hinds County. The assessment focuses on the needs as well as the capabilites of the community, including citizens, agencies and organizations. HCHRA used the report to identify the more specific needs of the citizens of Hinds County in order to help lift its citizens out of poverty conditions through the various services they offer to seniors, those with disabilities or low-income individuals.

The HCHRA CSNA meeting provided a comprehensive assessment to its employees on the ongoing quantitative and qualitative needs within the Hinds County community. David Kinght, Executive VP and COO for HCHRA, stated, “We want to ensure that we are all aware and can communicate to and advocate for the people and communities we serve. In order to do that at top capacity, we must be up to date on our strengths and needs associated with our service areas.” Roger Lutrell,  Vice President of Planning & Development, added, “We first identified the demographic composition of the county to identify HCHRA’s primary constituents. Secondly, we collected surveys from those constituents as well as community partners and understood better what areas ranked as priorty within the community. We will use this information to strengthen constituent relationships and continue to be an agent of change in Hinds County.”

Mr. Knight also stated that this year’s CSNA advanced to be one of HCHRA’s strongest assessments to date. Based on the research and analysis of data gathered, in order to alleviate poverty, HCHRA must not only provide safety net programs, but also treat the trends and conditions of poverty. HCHRA believes that the best position to achieve results would be to focus on employment, education, and housing during the next 2-3 years.

To access the full 2018 Community Strengths and Needs Assessment, visit www.hchra.org and go to Reports & Plans under Popular Topics.

Hinds County Human Resource Agency Holds IMPACT Training

Hinds County Human Resource Agency (HCHRA) Project Head Start conducted its “Together, Let’s Make an IMPACT” In-Service Training on November 19, 2018, at the Jackson Marriott Hotel.  IMPACT is acronym that stands for integrity, motivation, professionalism, accountability, change, and teamwork. Participants received useful information on engaging and interactive processes during the training that can be readily applied to their daily tasks.

The workshop included training sessions on effective class concepts and strategies, health and safety practices, conflict resolution strategies, best practices for nutrition services, and instruction on the Virtual ROMA system as well as the ROMA (results-oriented management and accountability) Cycle.

Several in-service training sessions are held throughout each school year for Head Start staff, which is part of the Agency’s ongoing commitment to ensure that staff is accurately trained and equipped with the tools that provide the best possible environment for children and families who are a part of the Head Start program at HCHRA.

For more information on HCHRA’s Head Start program, or any of its other programs and services, visit www.hchra.org.

It’s Not Too Late to Give

The Hinds County Human Resource Agency’s (HCHRA) held its 24th Annual Awards and Recognition Gala held on September 28, 2018 at the Jackson Marriott. The Annual Awards and Recognition Gala is Hinds County Human Resource Agency’s annual signature event, which helps to provide matching funds for a range of services such as home-delivered meals, congregate meal sites, and Hinds County rural public transportation. Assisting low-income families throughout the community advance to self-reliance and self-sufficiency is what the Agency does each day to fulfill its mission.  With the support of community partners, employees and volunteers, the Agency helped to better the lives of more than 15,000 children, families, seniors and citizens with disabilities last year.

The annual gala generates funds to help ensure the Agency’s programs and services remain accessible to those in need. The 2018 celebration began with a gathering of sponsors at a pre-function reception. Our top-level sponsors were Dr. Kellie Lane and Warrior Nation Ministries (Diamond Sponsor); BankPlus, Entergy, and UnitedHealthcare (Platinum Sponsors); and Mississippi Group Marketing and The Mississippi Link (Gold Sponsors).  Silver sponsors were C Spire and Kenn Cockrell and Family. Bronze sponsors were Atmos Energy, Jackson Advocate, Mississippi Development Authority, Nulinx International, Inc./COPA, Patty Peck Honda, Phelps Dunbar, Risk Management Partners, Inc., Shady Grove M.B. Church, and Watkins, Ward and Stafford, PLLC.  Friendship sponsors were the HCHRA Advisory Committee, David A. Knight and Dr. Natasha Phillips, Chelsea Luster, Roger Lutrell, and Willie and Kathleen McGriggs.

The most important part of the celebration was the recognition of the 2018 Bootstrap Award recipients. Bootstrap awards are presented to individuals who have demonstrated the will to overcome very challenging life situations, and with HCHRA resources, assistance, and great effort, these honorees have achieved major accomplishments by pulling themselves up by the bootstraps. Bootstrap Awards were presented to Robbie Hooker, Keidra Hooks Anderson, Nakoma McDuffy, and Billy Myrick.

Ms. Maggie Wade, News Anchor/Reporter for WLBT 3 On Your Side & WDBD Fox40, served as keynote speaker.  A fabulous silent auction, a wonderful dinner and the phenomenal Time to Move band made the night even more spectacular.

HCHRA is a public nonprofit Community Action Agency dedicated to helping families and strengthening communities.  If you’re looking to support an organization that truly makes a difference, considering giving to HCHRA.  Donations are tax-deductible.  Every contribution made by December 31st will go towards its 2018 fund development efforts and will help to ensure that greater opportunities are available in the year to come.

HCHRA is truly grateful to each of its sponsors, supporters, volunteers and employees for their tireless commitment to serving the community through Hinds County Resource Agency.  The work we do would not be possible without your support.

If you questions or need additional information on HCHRA programs and services, visit www.hchra.org or contact Planning & Development at 601.923.3930.


Shop on AmazonSmile. Get Low Prices. Benefit HCHRA.


The Christmas holiday season is the busiest shopping time of the year. Visit AmazonSmile at https://smile.amazon.com and enjoy the same wide selection of products, low prices and convenient shopping features as on Amazon.com, while making a contribution to Hinds County Human Resource Agency (HCHRA).

AmazonSmile is a website operated by Amazon.  The difference is when you shop on AmazonSmile, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the price of eligible purchases to HCHRA.  Before you make that next purchase on Amazon, please go to AmazonSmile at smile.amazon.com and select HCHRA as your charitable organization of choice.  Every donation we receive helps us to do more for the families and communities we serve.

If you’ve shopped on Amazon before, log in with your usual sign-in info.  If you’re new to Amazon, create an account and begin enjoying the savings while making a tremendous difference in the lives of others. Anytime you and your friends or family members shop on Amazon throughout the year, be sure to log on to AmazonSmile in support of HCHRA.

Happy shopping!

For more information about HCHRA and its programs and services, click here.

For more information on AmazonSmile, visit smile.amazon.com.

Hinds County Human Resource Agency Offering CDL Training Program

Jackson, Miss. — On Tuesday, November 6, 2018, Hinds County Human Resource Agency (HCHRA) will be accepting applications from individuals who wish to enroll in a training course to receive their Class B commercial driver’s license (CDL) certification.  The training program is provided at absolutely no cost to participants, and upon successful completion of the program, immediate CDL positions are available.

HCHRA will have an information booth set up at the Health & Art Expo being held at the Jackson Medical Mall, located at 350 W. Woodrow Wilson in Jackson, Mississippi, from 9 a.m. to 12 noon.  Anyone interested in enrolling in the CDL training program is encouraged to come out and speak with an HCHRA opportunities advisor to learn how to get started on a new career path.  HCHRA will be located at the Bailey Avenue entrance under the canopy.

“The program is part of an initiative to provide training and employment opportunities to help put individuals on the road to success,” said Kenn Cockrell, the president and chief executive officer of HCHRA.  The training is available to Hinds County residents only, and certain requirements must be met for participation. Eligibility is based on a household income at or below 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. Participants must be 21 years of age or older, have a high school diploma or GED, and a valid driver’s license.  Applicants are asked to bring Social Security cards for all household members, picture IDs for all adults 18 years of age and older, and proof of residency, such as a utility bill or lease agreement.

For more information, contact the Department of Family Opportunities at 601.923.3930.

HCHRA Makes $30,000 Investment in Community Landmark

Hinds County Human Resource Agency (HCHRA) recently invested $30,000 in the replacement of the roof at the Edwards Neighborhood Service Center.

Formerly the Edwards Attendance Center, the Edwards Neighborhood Service Center is a well-known landmark that now serves as the home for HCHRA’s Congregate Meals Program in Edwards, Mississippi.  Seniors from throughout the community come to the center each weekday to enjoy a hot, nutritious, “sit-down” style fellowship lunch with their peers.

Due to the normal and usual exposure to the elements and the impact of father time, the 50-year-old building began to experience roof leaks that were beyond repair.  Given the importance of the Congregate Meals Program to the livelihood and wellness of the area seniors, HCHRA dug deep and made a huge financial commitment to replace the roof to ensure that the center remained open.  “Every program we operate is vital, but our senior programs are among the most important,” said Kenn Cockrell, president and chief executive officer of HCHRA.  “Seniors are extremely vulnerable. Without the meals and socialization opportunities provided at our congregate sites, many of them would live in isolation and suffer from malnutrition and undetected health risks.  Although there’s no type of reimbursement funding available for the $30,000 we spent on the roof replacement, there was never a question about whether it should be done.  The safety and well-being of the seniors was and is our number one priority.”

HCHRA also operates Head Start and Early Head Start programs on the same campus as the Congregate Meals Program in Edwards.  While the roof replacement is underway, seniors gather in a portion of the Head Start center’s cafeteria to partake in their meals, education seminars, and socialization activities.  The temporary move has not dampened the mood nor the activities that the site manager, Vivian Johnson, and her seniors enjoy.  Seniors from the surrounding areas continue to congregate and revel in a sense of independence and meaningful interaction, which contribute significantly to their health and happiness.

Cockrell explained that HCHRA is always exploring opportunities to strengthen its community presence and enhance the services it provides.  Though plans have not been finalized, the Agency is looking at turning the Edwards Neighborhood Service Center into one of its full-service locations where, in addition to providing the Congregate Meals Program and other senior services, area residents can also receive utility payment, rental, tuition, and employment assistance.

The Edwards Neighborhood Service Center is one of three sites in Hinds County at which HCHRA offers the Congregate Meals Programs.  The other sites are the Little Bethel Neighborhood Service Center and the Mt. Wade Congregate Site, both located in Terry.  To participate, seniors must be 60 years of age or older and reside in Edwards, Terry, Raymond, Utica or Bolton. Transportation for all participants is provided by HCHRA.  Funding for the Congregate Meals Program is provided by the Mississippi Department of Human Services Division of Aging and Adult Services through the Central Mississippi Area Agency on Aging.  For more information or to sign up, call (601) 923-3930.


HCHRA Head Start Posts Exceptional Gains in Literacy for 2017-2018

As three- and four-year-old students begin to return to Head Start classrooms for the new school year, HCHRA teachers are beaming with pride from last year’s results. According to newly released HCHRA data from the 2017-18 Head Start school year, HCHRA students showed a 19% gain in Star Literacy test scores.

Star Literacy scores represent how well a student understands concepts and possesses specific skills that are important in the development of reading. These scores represent a snapshot of where the student currently stands as it relates to literacy.

At the beginning of the 2017-18 school year, data showed that HCHRA had an average student score of 400.  A score of 300-487 places a child as an Early Emergent Reader.  Students in this category are beginning to understand that reading involves printed words and sentences, and that print flows from left to right and from top to bottom of the page. They are also beginning to identify colors, shapes, numbers and letters.

To ensure that each student was ready for kindergarten, HCHRA’s Head Start Program developed the “Early Literacy Race to 500” campaign. The goal of “Race to 500” was to ensure that HCHRA students transition from Early Emergent Reader to Late Emergent Reader.  Late Emergent Readers score 488-674. Students in this category identify most of the letters of the alphabet and can match most of the letters to their sounds. Students are also beginning to read picture books and familiar words around the home.

By the end of the school year, test results showed that HCHRA reached an average score of 476 among all four-year-old students tested.  “While short of our goal, I am proud to say that our Head Start staff delivered high-quality instruction and provided an excellent learning environment to ensure we saw exceptional gains in our students,” says Kenn Cockrell, president and CEO of HCHRA.  “We had multiple centers to surpass the 500 mark, and a few students even scored over 800 – a remarkable accomplishment.”

The gains came a year after HCHRA made curriculum changes and implemented evaluations that were better aligned with their curriculum. HCHRA also recognizes parents as the child’s first and best teacher.  To reinforce the learning that takes place in the classroom, HCHRA provides parents with at-home activities they can practice with their children to help them strengthen literacy skills until they return to the classroom.

Just last year, all Head Start programs across the state were wrongfully categorized as not having positive results in early literacy.  “When you group all students together, without considering income or opportunity, data is not properly analyzed, inaccurate generalizations are espoused, and programs are not fairly evaluated apart from the others,” said Cockrell.

Cockrell went on to explain that the teachers and staff at HCHRA are held to a high standard of accountability, which often surpasses federal requirements.  “In addition to ensuring that our education tools and methods produce results, we utilize measurement systems that ensure accountability and clearly communicate results to funders, community members and leaders throughout Hinds County.”

HCHRA operates 16 Head Start centers and satellite locations throughout Hinds County and has successfully run the Head Start program for more than 41 years.