All of her life Angela Turner tried to model herself after her mother and her uncle. At a young age she recognized their willingness to help others and since then, she’s worked her hardest to do the same.
“I love being on the field helping others, and I’ve always been that way,” Turner said. “My mom, Barbara Jefferson, was always helping people so I think I get it from her. I also had an uncle who we called Uncle Cappy, and he helped everybody. So I think I get it from those two people. It’s in my blood.”
In 1989, the Vicksburg native started her journey down that path after moving to Texas and working at the Johnson Space Center. After 18 years she decided it was time to come back home where she was employed by the Vicksburg Police Department as a community resource officer and later by the city’s housing department as the housing coordinator.
Today, she celebrates two years with the American Red Cross as a disaster program specialist where she is the direct contact for the Red Cross for people who have undergone different disasters.
“I’m the first line of support for the Red Cross for our clients that we have in 10 different counties,” Turner said, “so I personally have 10 counties that I support, and they all depend on me for Red Cross support. If they have a disaster in the area, which could include a fire, I am the contact person for the Red Cross for those counties.”
After gaining a love for helping people from her family and turning it into a career, Turner tries her best to make serving others a tradition that she can pass on to her only child, Tangela, and her family.
“I get my two grandbabies, Ava and Simone, and my son-in-law involved with volunteering,” she said. “In fact, last Christmas we were here in Mississippi, and we volunteered at the [River City] Rescue Mission to feed people and hand out different handmade gifts we made the night before.”
Turner says that she enjoys her work as a disaster program specialist because it allows her to do what she loves each day.
“Red Cross is the number one volunteer organization. I’d even say they’re world renowned, so I have a lot of volunteers who help me, and we can’t do what we do without our volunteers. I have volunteers in all of my communities who are always willing to assist,” she said.
In her career she comes across so many people who need help that it is almost impossible for her to pick just one experience to demonstrate all she does.
“I’d give a story about helping others but there are just so many,” she said. “It’s just what I do. I have too many stories that it’s hard to pick just one. In general, working in the community fills your days with heartfelt memories.
“When someone is standing before you and all they have left, for the most part, is what they have on, knowing that you were able to help them keeps you going … ready to help the next person.”
Turner believes that in addition to helping others a simple gesture can also make a great impact.
“You want to make people feel special, especially people who don’t have a lot of family,” she said. “There might be some people who don’t even get a hug, so getting a smile and a hug goes a long way.”
Earnie Hall: ‘Everything I do is Bible based’
The River City Rescue Mission does it’s fair share of hard work in the community, from organizing a thrift store, offering shelter to those without and hosting an annual Thanksgiving dinner for those in need.
For the past 11 years, all that the River City Rescue Mission has done has been under the direction of Earnie Hall.
After battling a life full of wrong turns, Hall claims that it was God who helped to turn him around, and today, he does his best to live his life in a way that is pleasing to God.
“Everything I do is Bible based,” Hall said. “Years ago, they wanted me to tell them that I was an addict, alcoholic, but I would say that I believe in Jesus Christ, and I’m grateful for my recovery. That’s been my identity for the past couple of years. Other than that, I’m the chaplain at the jail. I have been for 16 years, and I’ve been here at River City Rescue Mission for 11 years. It’s just full time ministry.”
Though he’s done some amazing work in the community, Hall lets everyone know that he isn’t the one who deserves the praise.
“I’ve been around the block way too many times,” he said, “but I found a way out through the word of God, and now I am able to walk free.”
Hall hopes to continue giving back to the community that gave to him.
“For the last several years, I’ve been trying not to promote myself at all,” he said. “I just put a Bible in someone’s hand and promote the one we should be promoting: Jesus Christ. “
While he holds numerous titles, Hall says that there is just one thing that describes him, a song.
“If you’ve heard the casting crowns song, ‘Only Jesus,’ that would really describe me,” he said. “I’m not trying to leave behind a legacy because my name can’t save anyone, but God can fix it.”
Amie LaSalle Vinson: ‘There’s a young person in each of these residents’
When Amie LaSalle Vinson was in third grade, her mom started working in a nursing home.
“She took me and my siblings to work with her just about every day, and when she took us to the nursing home with her, she would set us up to do things with the residents like play games, do their nails and everything else,” Vinson said.
Later, when she graduated from high school, Vinson went to the nursing home to help her mom and volunteer.
“They ended up hiring me to do some filing,” she said, “but I was also working in activities with my mom. I started doing that when I was 18, and I am 43 now.
“A lot of people told me this job would burn me out, but I’m still going, so I guess I just burn.”
Today, Vinson is activities director at the Bluffs Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center on Porters Chapel Road. And like her mother, Vinson hopes to leave a legacy.
“She’s the person I built everything around,” Vinson said. “Everything my mom did, I thought I would do it, too, because she did everything with integrity. I come from a family of people who work and worked in the nursing home, but it was my mom that led me to this.”
A kidney cancer survivor, Vinson stresses the importance of being positive about all aspects of life and facing each obstacle that life throws.
“This will be my fifth year cancer free in April, and everything I went through, I went through it with my residents,” she said. “Everything that I’ve been through in my life, it’s been with the residents. Because we spend so much time up here, that sometimes you spend more time with them than you do with your family. That’s how your family gets so involved with this career.
“But even when I was going through my treatment I told my family not to be sad and remember the happy times, because I want the legacy that I leave behind to be like my mom’s: positive.”
As activities director, Vinson enjoys making people happy, and she hopes to show everyone the importance of simply maintaining an upbeat attitude.
“I just like to keep people going. It’s what I like to do,” she said. “I like to say, ‘you can treat a disease, and the results might be fifty-fifty, but when you treat a person, you win every time’.”
Vinson encourages everyone to volunteer some of their time to nursing homes.
“There’s a young person in each of these residents,” Vinson said, “and they just need someone to help bring them out.”
Gina Hendrickson is helping Vicksburg school children in need
Young students have so much to look forward to during the school year: a smiling teacher, the promise of advancement, friends and, of course, their favorite classes.
Unfortunately, some also have to prepare for embarrassment, bullying and taunting from classmates because of circumstances largely out of their control. One of those things could be a lack of clean clothing.
One Vicksburg resident, Gina Hendrickson, noticed students suffering academically and even dropping out of school because of this issue and decided to make a change by organizing a clothing drive for students.
“It’s called ‘Help Vicksburg Children in Need’,” Hendrickson said. “A lot of children are being bullied in school for the clothes they wear, some aren’t going to school, and they’re just having a hard time. So I started this for people to drop off clothes, sneakers, uniforms and undergarments.”
The clothing drive started a week ago, and there are six drop off locations around town where people can donate items. Hendrickson checks each on a weekly basis. They are:
- Fit Chef Catering, 3401 Halls Ferry Road
- Merle Norman Belle Rose Salon, 1221 Washington Street
- 601 Sports, 3500 Pemberton Square Boulevard
- Vicksburg Police Department, 820 Veto Street
- Vicksburg Fire Department, 1630 Walnut Street
- Station 5 Fire House, 5855 Highway 61 South
All clothing items are accepted and there are no age or size limits. She only asks that any undergarments, including socks, are new and in their original packaging.
Hendrickson donates much time and love into this clothing drive, and she hopes that other folks in Vicksburg will contribute as well.
“I’m really hoping that the community jumps aboard,” she said. “I’m asking everyone to just donate what they can. Any used clothes that are donated, I’ve been washing, folding and just having them ready, and I’ve been going to stores, putting up flyers and just getting the word out. All exposure is great.
“If a family is in need, all they have to do is get in touch with me, and the exchange will be completely confidential.”
In addition to taking clothing donations, Hendrickson is also gladly accepting donated laundry items and volunteer time. If interested in donating to the clothing drive or volunteering, contact Gina Hendrickson at 914-522-4692.
See our live interview with Hendrickson on our Facebook page.
A happier ending
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