“From the moment things began to shut down because of the pandemic, these businesses stepped up to help Good Samaritan and Extra Table salvage, store and distribute fresh food products. This was food that was earmarked for schools and restaurants, but those places were now closed. The Hub was able to save the food and make sure it was given out to charities and churches helping struggling families throughout the state,” said Good Sam Executive Director, Kathy Clem, on the Hub’s beginnings.
Believe it or not, the pandemic has blessed our organization in so many ways. Our Senior Food Box Deliveries program at Delhaven Manor and Golden Key Apartment complexes is just one way. We noticed a need to keep our sweet senior friends at home during, and even after, "shelter in place" guidelines. We took that opportunity to provide nutritious and fresh food to our clients; however, it's more than just DoorDash. Good Samaritan case managers take the time to check-in monthly (via phone) on their Golden Key & Delhaven clients.
Since taking on the role of case managing for Golden Key Apartments, Good Sam has had the privilege in joining the efforts of seeking an official EnVision Center designation for the newly renovated Golden Key Activities Center. The center recently received official designation by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson.
GKEC seeks to unlock doors of opportunity for families and individuals through economic empowerment measures, educational advancement programs, health and wellness initiatives, and character and leadership development, while creating a sense of belonging in the community. Its founders believe these four guiding principles are the “golden keys” to achieving self-sufficiency and advancement.
Good Sam's involvement with the GKEC has led to great opportunities for the seniors we advocate for, as well as the local community.
Earlier this year, Good Sam staff spent time in the community (sometimes, that even meant going door-to-door!) scheduling free COVID-19 vaccination appointments for our clients. The vaccination drive, a collaboration between Good Sam, Jackson Housing Authority, and Walmart Pharmacy, was set up at the Fannie Lou Hamer Library at the new Golden Key EnVision Center located off of Albermarle Road in Jackson.
Executive Director of Jackson Housing Authority, Allison Cox, was ecstatic about the opportunity for the community.
“It was important to Jackson Housing Authority that we make the previously difficult to obtain vaccines readily available for an often under-served community. Jackson residents are ready to return to some degree of normal and this is a great start."
Good Sam staff worked hard to schedule appointments for Good Sam’s senior clients.
“This has been a fabulous opportunity to help eligible seniors and disabled clients that don’t have a computer or internet access get the vaccination. Going door to door to sign folks up and also having a phone number for folks to call to schedule appointments has made a huge difference. In addition, having the vaccination site within an easy close walking distance has been huge for so many of our clients,” Clem said.
Moreover, Good Sam has collaborated with Central Mississippi Planning & Development to provide a congregate meal program for seniors and those who are disabled through the new EnVision Enrichment program at GKEC.
Out of caution during the pandemic, the meals are grab-n-go style for now. Eventually, participants will be allowed to socialize safely with planned activities and provided lunch Monday through Friday mornings.
Mary Hauck is a retired IT support specialist, part-time baker, and at one point during the midst of the pandemic was a "full-time" Good Sam Volunteer!
While Mary was a regular volunteer at Good Samaritan Center’s various special events throughout the years, in 2020 she became an active member of our "COVID Crusader" volunteer cadre. In March, when our fundraisers all had to close, Good Sam had to lay off 47 of 53 employees. While some of the staff would immediately come back to work through an internship program in collaboration with Central MS Planning and Development, these staff (interns) could not drive, which severely limited Good Samaritan's daily operations.
As we were embarking on the new Hub for the Hungry collaboration as well as our new Senior Food Box Delivery and Case Management program for individuals at Golden Key & Delhaven apartment complexes (read above for more information), we needed drivers to keep things rolling! With our staff unable to drive on the intern program, Mary stepped in immediately as a lead volunteer.
She was not scared to drive our big box truck and pick up donated food products from various sources or to help take food to our vulnerable clients. She was a regular on the schedule often volunteering 15-20 hours per week. Not only did she drive, but she was the first person in line helping to load or unload salvaged food. She also spent time once a month ferrying food product to our soup kitchen and food pantry in Jones County.
When asked why she continues to stay working at Good Sam, Mary simple says,
"Well I like y'all's mission, and you can see an immediate impact."
Outside of Good Sam, Mary enjoys kayaking, baking, crossword puzzles, and spending time with her goddaughter.
Using her love for gardening and her information technology experience, Mary has been the lead volunteer in our client community garden and our go-to person for all things technology... she recently worked hand-in-hand with CSpire during Good Sam's facility-wide phone system upgrade.
Did you know Good Sam operates the only soup kitchen in Jones County??
The Laurel Soup Kitchen serves 300 meals each day now. While the number of meals served has increased, the variety of meals has also increased.
Our Laurel Soup Kitchen has recently stepped up its menu game... with tentative full menus for each week posted on our social media pages @goodsamlaurel. It's "food so good you'd pay for it.... but it's free!" That being said, donations are always welcome! :)
At the same location as the soup kitchen, clients can also receive case management (including SNAP application assistance and food assistance). The Food Pantry assists with take-home groceries. Good Sam's Laurel Food Pantry is one of the few food pantries in the county as well!
Neat Used Things for Sale
Wanna join the Good Sam fam? Our organization has several different positions available.
Job Openings (Jackson location):
- Director of Social Services
- Director of Volunteers
- Warehouse Manager (Clothing Closet & Donations)
- NUTS Jackson Assistant Manager
- NUTS Jackson Sales Associate
- Warehouse Assistant (Food Pantry/CC/Store)
Job Openings (Laurel location):
- Bingo Assistant
- NUTS Laurel Sales Associate
- Bingo Concessions Cashier
For more information on current job openings, please visit our website (link below).
On Saturday, April 3rd, Good Sam was able to execute its first in-person fundraiser event in over a year! It was such a good "family reunion," we like to call it. Without all the staff, volunteers, participants, and donors, this event couldn't have been what it was... and it was AWESOME!
We had a record number of 145 registrants for this year's Kick Up The Dust trail run. Congratulations to each winner! And THANK YOU to each participant.
Top Male Finisher 4K: Evan Hallford, Top Female Finisher 4K: Abbey Phillips, Top Male Finisher 8K: Truman Poole, Top Female Finisher 8K: Logan Barlow, Top Male Finisher 14K: Justin Rogers, Top Female Finisher 14K: Jessica Diamond
If you'd like to participate in Good Sam's other two charity races this year, registrations for Balloon Chase (July 3rd) & Golf Ball Drop (July 3rd) and 12K's for the Holidays (November 20th) are LIVE now. You can register TODAY by clicking the corresponding button below.