More Than a Night of Entertainment – HCHRA’s 2017 Awards & Recognition Gala

More than a night of food and dancing.  More than a night of speaking and awards. More than a night of black-tie elegance and entertainment.  Hinds County Human Resource Agency’s 23rd Annual Awards and Recognition Gala held on Friday, September 29, 2017 at the Jackson Marriott Hotel, was much, much, more.

Why? Because it involved the community.  ‘Helping families, strengthening communities’ is the cornerstone of  Hinds County Human Resource Agency (HCHRA), and helping Hinds County advance continues to be one of HCHRA’s main goals. Caring about the citizens and providing life-changing opportunities through the services HCHRA offers is what made the Gala more…much, much, more.  It is HCHRA’s annual signature event, which helps to provide critical matching funds for several services such as home-delivered meals, congregate meal sites, and Hinds County rural public transportation.  This year’s gala was especially significant, as it was also part of the Agency’s 40th year anniversary celebrations being held throughout the year.

The keynote address was provided by Ms. Denise Harlow, CEO of the National Community Action Partnership in Washington, D.C.  Harlow encouraged the Agency to keep its feet to the mission of helping families and strengthening communities, as she continues to champion the work and impact of the nation’s Community Action Agencies around the country.

Dr. Jessie Primer III, Saxophonist, provided superb entertainment that was as excellent as the great food served up by the Marriott as everyone shared in the festive night.  Yet, it was even more than that.  The Gala provided an opportunity to create awareness about its programs and services; to celebrate clients who transitioned out of poverty to self-sufficiency; and to honor volunteers and community partners who worked with the Agency throughout the year to help eradicate poverty and provide a better life for more than 65,000 low-income citizens throughout Hinds County.

It was more, because it involved HCHRA sponsors.  HCHRA President and CEO Kenn Cockrell remarks, “If not for the unwavering support of sponsors to help HCHRA empower disadvantaged Hinds County citizens to become self-reliant and realize their full potential, the task would be insurmountable.”  The 2017 Gala was made possible by BankPlus (Platinum Sponsor); Mississippi Group Marketing, PA and The Mississippi Link (Gold Sponsors); Kenn Cockrell & Family, along with C Spire (Silver Sponsors); Entergy, HCHRA Board of Directors, Jackson Advocate, Patty Peck Honda, Phelps Dunbar, and Watkins, Ward & Stafford, PLLC (Bronze Sponsors); and valued friends, Atmos Energy, M3A Architecture, PLLC, Vera Butler and Chelsea Luster, Mississippi Development Authority, HCHRA Advisory Committee, Walker & Son, Jackson Memorial Funeral Service, WEM Consulting Group, WWISCAA, and David Knight & Natasha Phillips, D.O.  Contributions made this year will go towards expanding programs and services in the upcoming year.  “Having strong corporate and community partners who are committed to the Agency’s efforts has made a tremendous difference in the lives of the children and families HCHRA serves.  We thank them for believing in the work we do,” said Cockrell.

It was more, because it involved HCHRA donors. Donor generosity was undeniably at the top of the charts! From must-haves to essentials, from dining to on-the-go, from dressing up to a night out, as well as remarkable artwork, generous donations in support of the HCHRA Awards & Recognition Gala’s silent auction, its first ever, helped to make the evening a grand affair.  Silent auction items included everything from tickets to Walt Disney World, to gift cards at local restaurants.  HCHRA thanks Office Products Plus, Penn’s, McAlister’s Deli, The Fairview Inn, Almeta Roberts, IP Casino Resort & Spa, Caesars Entertainment/Horseshoe Tunica Hotel & Casino, Kats Wine & Spirits, Walmart (Flowood), C Spire, MS Products, Inc., Staffers, TempStaff, M3A Architecture, PLLC, R.J. Young, Elkins Wholesale, Kendra Scott, Andrea Little, Marriott (Jackson), Hilton Garden Inn Jackson/Downtown, Heartwood, Aundrayeah Ramsey, Vera Butler, Jimmy Mumford, Kwame Braxton, Craftsmen’s Guild of Mississippi, Venture Technologies, Walt Disney World Company, Jessica Davis, and Jackson Data Products for their support.

It was more, because it involved HCHRA staff and volunteers. It is the mission of HCHRA to empower disadvantaged Hinds County citizens to become self-reliant and realize their full potential.  HCHRA employs nearly 400 people to carry out its mission.  In addition to the work performed by staff, last year, volunteers donated 678,592 hours to support the work of HCHRA.  “HCHRA has a very talented and dedicated group of staff members and volunteers,” said Cockrell.  “It is because of their untiring work ethic, commitment and support to advance the community that the Agency has successfully operated for forty continuous years.”

HCHRA’s 23rd Annual Awards & Recognition Gala was more than just a night of food and dance, or speaking and awards; it was much, much, more – it was to honor the work HCHRA has done over the past 40 years to make Hinds County a more prosperous community in which we are all afforded access and opportunities to education, employment, health, and safety.

To all of our staff, volunteers, friends and supporters who contributed in any way, HCHRA thanks you.

Each year, HCHRA honors individuals and organizations who help to further the mission of HCHRA, as well as those who work to help families and strengthen communities throughout Hinds County.

The following is a list of the 2017 awards and their recipients:


Presented to individual(s) whose work in and for the community during the year most closely personified the noble legacy of Medgar Wiley Evers.

  • Jackson-Hinds Comprehensive Health Center

Presented to the individual, organization or community group that has made the greatest contribution to the community during the year.


  • Alexis Harvey (posthumously)
  • Former Executive Directors of HCHRA/Community Service Association – among those honored were:
  • Benjamin Bradley
  • Rudolph Jackson
  • Charles Jones

Presented to the individual or institution that has generated or provided substantial monetary and other resources during the year.

  • BankPlus
  • DeJohn Hampton

Presented to the individual who has been the solid rock of support for the Agency because of his/her steady guidance and leadership during the year.

  • Ann Burton
  • David Knight
  • Chelsea Luster

Presented to the agencies, organizations or individuals that have contributed tremendous support to the Agency during the year.

  • Hinds County Board of Supervisors
  • Tina Ruffin, Division of Community Services, Mississippi Department of Human Services

Presented to individuals who unselfishly contributed their time and resources to the Agency in order to make a difference in the lives of the children and families served during the year.

  • Angela Burleigh
  • Wayne Goodwin
  • Gloria Green, Esq.
  • Nicole Martin
  • Cedric Morgan
  • Dr. Joeann Williams

Presented to the individual within Hinds County Human Resource Agency (Board, Policy Council or staff) who has served people and has met the mission of the Agency during the year.

  • Laura Patterson & Eulander Kendrick Head Start Center
  • Almeta Roberts & Mary C. Jones Head Start Center
  • Dr. LaTessa Long
  • Angelique Rawls

Presented by the President and CEO to the individual who has made outstanding contributions to the success of the Agency.

  •  Kathleen Williams-McGriggs