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Hometown Hero

Emmarie Flaggs: ‘Get up, get out and do something’

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Emmarie Flaggs, a hometown hero

At one point in her life Emmarie Flaggs thought that she had it all. She spent her days at work and fellowshipping with family and friends. But when her work contract ended with the government, she began to doubt herself and question if she really had everything together.

With the help of her mother, this led her to put the ailments of others first.

“I was at a low point in my life, and I was complaining about all the things that I couldn’t see and not focused on what I needed to see when I started my service,” Flaggs said. “In life, you have to learn lessons from what it is that builds you. You can’t control the cards that you’re dealt, but you can control how you play with them.

“So what made me get up and go help others is that I was on the phone with my mother. I had just lost my job. She told me that she kept hearing me whining, crying and complaining about what [I] don’t have, but what have you done to help you besides focusing on what you don’t have. With her telling me that, it made me get up, get out and do something.”

Today, Flaggs is Chief Executive Officer of Doing Me Rocks, an organization that focuses on mentoring and creating community outreach events for youth. Her first act of service was hosting Bible study at the local homeless shelter. Since then, she has done work with Mountain of Faith Ministries, the CAP Center, Chick-fil-A and the Salvation Army, where she began Granny’s Kitchen, an initiative created to feed the homeless throughout the community.

“I organize Granny’s Kitchen every year,” she said. “It’s been kind of hard to get it back going, but it’s something that really has brought the community together. People always send me inboxes, texts, calls and emails asking if we’re going to do it again. This year, I was planning on doing it, but it was hard to find a venue. So instead, I’ve been asking people to help at the River City Rescue Mission instead, because they need help, too.”

As a mother of four, Flaggs service never stops. In addition to teaching her children the basics of serving others, she also ensures that they each have firsthand experience in doing so.

“My youngest two are always involved in anything that I do with the community,” she said. “I always bring them because I am a firm believer in training up a child in the way that they should go, so that they don’t depart from the way that you’ve instilled in them. With my older two, my daughter, although I’m not her biological mom, I love that she’s doing the same thing that I am in the city of Atlanta as a student at Spelman. Every week, she calls me with different tasks she’s doing or how the community service she did here prepared her for the things that she’s doing now. 

“It shows the domino effect because since it’s in her she’s taken it a step further. My older son, in the city of New Orleans, does the same.”

Flaggs is a member of many organizations in the city of Vicksburg including Elevate 2 Educate, Crossway Baptist Church and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and she has received many awards, but she maintains a humble spirit and continues to teach others every day in hopes that they will pass it along.

“People will forget your name, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel,” she said. “That quote by Maya Angelou is one that I live by. “

Hometown Hero

Chris Gilmer, Hometown Hero

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Chris Gilmer shows Kofi Louis how to work his new lock. (photo by David Day)

The story of the 13-year-old young man, Kofi Louis, who had his bicycle stolen at gunpoint angered the community. The robber not only took Louis’ bike but his keychain containing his house key. Louis and his sister hardly slept for fear of the robber breaking into their house in the dead of night.

Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace along with Vicksburg Police Chief Milton Moore, Warren County Fire Coordinator Jerry Briggs and Reed Birdsong with Warren County Emergency Management, among others, came out to show their support for the Louis family and to let Kofi Louis and his sister, Alicia Louis, know they are not alone. Everyone was prepared to give money out of their pockets to ensure he got a new bike.

When Chris Gilmer of Vicksburg Locksmith heard about the families vulnerability because of the stolen key, he dropped everything to help. While the assembled law enforcement and community safety experts transported Louis and his sister to Walmart for a new bicycle, Gilmer stayed at the family home and installed a new lock on the door — a top-quality, high-dollar lock and dead bolt.

Gilmer would accept no money from anyone there for the lock, valued at several hundred dollars, or the service.

When the Louises and their new security team returned to the home, Kofi Louis was infatuated with his new bicycle. Briggs, Pace and Birdsong all started working to put on the new lights, and install batteries and water bottle holders. Gilmer took Louis aside and showed him the new front door lock.

Louis tested it a few times, closed and opened the door several times, and then had his sister stand inside and lock him out so he could test it some more. Over the next 15 minutes, while the gentlemen of the county were working on his bike, Kofi must have locked, unlocked and entered that door at least 10 times, each time looking in amazement at the craftsmanship and feeling a new sense of security with his new door locks.

To this observer, it seems Kofi may have been more pleased with his locks and door than with anything else. A sense of security can mean a lot, especially after what Louis had been through.

“They aren’t getting through this,” Louis told Gilmer with confidence.

For his selfless actions, his understanding of how the family felt, and his above-and-beyond efforts to make that family feel safe, the Vicksburg Daily News is honored to name Chris Gilmer the Vicksburg Daily News Hometown Hero for October 2020.

If you need locksmith service, please give Chris a call at Vicksburg Locksmith 601-529-0898.

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Hometown Hero

Woodrow Price: providing good male role models to Vicksburg’s boys

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Warren Central Intermediate teacher Woodrow Price.

Most people associate the word “teacher” with ABCs and 1,2,3s, but for one Vicksburg educator, being a good teacher has always meant something much more than that.

For Woodrow Price, lead teacher at Warren Central Junior High School, the job goes beyond reading and math.

“Most schools in our area are Title 1 schools. That just means we have large concentrations of students from low-income families,” Price said. “Most of the time when you have a lot of low-income families, you’ll find a lot of single parent households. Typically, there is no consistent father figure in these homes, and kids need a good male role model in their lives.”

That fact prompted Price to step in and step up, so he began several programs aimed at introducing successful, male role models in children’s lives.

One of Price’s programs is Real Men Read. Once a month, Price recruits successful men in the community to his school to read with students.

“The men we invite are businessmen, police officers, firemen, local politicians, you name it. I want the kids — especially the boys — to see what they can achieve,” he said.

Similar programs Price introduced are Boys to Men and Dress for Success. Those, too, are aimed at providing students with positive male role models.

“I grew up in a single parent household, but I’m grateful I had a grandfather, an uncle and a pastor,” Price said. “Too many kids in Vicksburg aren’t as blessed as I was.”

With the growing number of young people committing crimes in our community, Price said he felt something had to be done.

“It’ll really get you down,” he said, “and I found myself thinking how different things could’ve been for that kid with the right guidance.”

Price also thinks about how easily his life could have taken a wrong turn.

“I was lucky. I had good men in my life,” he said. “If not for them, who knows where I would have ended up?”

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Hometown Hero

Tracye Prewitt: ‘follow your dreams’

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Tracye Prewitt

Tracye Prewitt, an instructor at Dana Road Elementary School, met the challenges of being an instructor, and for 14 years, she has served as a mentor and positive figure to students at her school.

Her educational journey started at Mississippi State University as a history major, and later, the Lexington, Miss., native became a stay-at-home mother before moving to Vicksburg. She then decided to get back into the workforce, and Dana Road Elementary caught her attention.

As a member of the Dana Road Community Outreach program and faculty, Prewitt has brought several community leaders to the school to speak to her students.

“Being a part of the Community Outreach is a big deal,” she said. “One of our biggest events is the Leader In Me event, and that’s a team effort. My biggest event that I do is Read Across America.

“I strive to get people in the community and people that have an impact on our community to come out and read to the school. I want these kids to know that these important people such as the mayor, the governor, the lieutenant governor, the first lady of the state, representatives and former military generals think they’re important enough to take time out of their day to come and read a book to them.”

Even outside of work, Prewitt’s students are still her priority. She started an initiative to encourage her students to read more and to get the community more involved in education.

“I asked my friends on Facebook to sponsor my class for a month, and for $1 a child or $30 for a month, they bought the entire class a book,” she said. “Most have come out to the school, and read their book that they sponsored and presented the kids with the books. Sponsors have been (Mississippi Rep.) Oscar Denton, Shelley Tingle, Angel Meade, Tina Arrington, Robert Crear, just to name a few. The kids have loved getting books to take home that they can read forever. This bolsters literacy as well as community involvement.”

Pruitt hopes to continue being a positive impact on her students and let them know the sky is the limit when it comes to reaching their goals.

“I want my students to know that they can be anything they want to be and don’t settle for any reason,” she said. “Always strive to be what you want to be and follow your dreams.”

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