Professor’s mentoring coalition helps Jackson organizations share resources

Legon Craighead and Courtney Allen, senior social work majors, along with Vakendall Long, director of the Hub Club, listen to Mary Anne Poe, professor of social work, as she discusses plans April 3 for a citywide event for Jackson churches created by the mentoring coalition. | Photo by Zac Calvert

By Alana Hu, Staff Writer

Various mentoring organizations in Jackson have gathered monthly at Union for the past two years to share and discuss ideas to improve their programs.

Mary Anne Poe, professor of social work and director of the Center for Just and Caring Communities, started the mentoring coalition three years ago when she asked, “What can the center do to promote the well-being of the children in the community?”

The mentoring coalition began with just four participating organizations.

Today, those involved include Area Relief Ministries’ Hub Club,  Regional Inter-Faith Association’s Club 4.12, West Jackson Baptist Church’s Hartland outreach program, Evangelical Community Church’s J Crib Urban Ministries, Englewood Baptist Church’s Mission Jackson, a program of Skyline Church of Christ, Boys and Girls Club of Humboldt, Hands Up! and Mother Liberty Christian Methodist Episcopal Church’s mentoring ministry.

The organizations and ministries focus on caring for the community’s “at-risk” children.

“Poverty is the biggest issue that children face,” Poe said.

Research shows the influence of one positive adult in a child’s life can be what makes a positive impact on that child and influence his or her decisions, Poe said.

Mentoring programs help to ensure children have that one person in their lives.

“The purpose of the meetings with members of the other organizations is to provide support and encouragement and share ideas as well as resources with each other,” Poe said.

The mentoring coalition uses its time to discuss group projects.

Nine coalition members planned the upcoming citywide event “Greater Things: Day of Prayer for our Youth” at the organization’s April 3 meeting.

The event will be a chance for members of various churches, mentoring programs and the community to come together to pray for the youth in the city.

Representatives from RIFA, Mission Jackson, J Crib Urban Ministries, Area Relief Ministries and other organizations attended, along with  Union seniors Courtney Allen and Legon Craighead, both of whom major in social work.

Students are invited to attend the event, which will take place at 3:30 p.m. April 22 at City Hall and include a performance by the Tigrett Middle School gospel choir.

The group’s goal is to bring together the faith community on behalf of Jackson’s at-risk children.

Organizers expect up to 3,000 residents from area churches and the community to attend the event.

While the event will take place at city hall, representatives from various schools throughout Jackson will blanket the community with prayer.

Those participating in prayer will distribute prayer cards and focus on the schools in the area.

Students can get involved by becoming mentors within the coalition’s summer programs.

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The Cardinal & Cream is a student publication of Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. Our staff ranges from freshmen to seniors and includes a variety of majors — including journalism, public relations, advertising, marketing, digital media studies, graphic design and art majors.