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Hometown MADISON • 3


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4 • JANUARY 2021

6 • JANUARY 2021


My mom

is a big fan

of Matthew


a mastermind in the area of theology. He’s

one of the “old” writers dating back to the

1600s. She shares some of his quotes with

the family, and the following is one of her

favorites. Henry was reflecting on his wallet

being stolen and said, “(1) I am thankful that

I was never robbed before. (2) I am thankful

that although he took my wallet, he did not

take my life. (3) Although he took all I had, it

was not much. And (4), I am glad that it was

I who was robbed, not I who did the robbing.”

Now that is a perfect picture of a positive,

trusting attitude. I’ve tried to remind myself of

Henry’s phenomenal mindset about life’s

difficulties as I’ve reflected on 2020. What a

difficult year for so many with such upheaval

in so many areas of our nation and world.

With the closing of 2020, we can’t help

but be somewhat apprehensive about 2021.

Will our nation continue to be divided? Will

the Covid vaccine be effective? Will struggling

businesses survive?

There’s only one comforting answer to so

many unknowns. We don’t know, but God

does, and He’s in control!



Reader Spotlight 9


Tahya A. Dobbs


Kevin W. Dobbs


Mary Ann Kirby

Messages from Heaven 12

Mrs. Mississippi America 18

Hometown Goodness 22



Brenda McCall



Caroline Hodges



Alisha Floyd

Renewed Restored Redeemed 25

Salute to First Responders 42

The Science of Kindness 44




Othel Anding

Time Coin 50

...see you around town.

www.facebook.com/hometownmadisonmagazine. For subscription information visit www.htmags.com or contact us at info@HTMags.com / 601.706.4059 / 26 Eastgate Drive, Suite F / Brandon, MS 39042

All rights reserved. No portion of Hometown Madison may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher. The management of Hometown Madison is not responsible for opinions expressed by its writers or editors.

Hometown Madison maintains the unrestricted right to edit or refuse all submitted material. All advertisements are subject to approval by the publisher. The production of Hometown Madison is funded by advertising.

Hometown MADISON • 7

Be better in 2021. See your doctor

and start the New Year off right!

Baptist is helping families find the right care at the right time by

offering more options for scheduling appointments. You can

conveniently find a primary care doctor and book an appointment

that works with your schedule by visiting baptistmedicalclinic.org

or calling 855-733-8863.

Baptist Medical Group patients may also set up virtual visits through

the MyChart app or by visiting mychart.baptistonecare.org.

Get better with Baptist.


Get Better.

8 • JANUARY 2021



Julia Rachel


Why did you decide to make Madison

your home?

I decided to make Madison my home because it is

my favorite area in the Jackson Metro area. It has

great amenities, a great mix of people of all ages,

and everyone is so friendly!

How long have you lived in Madison?

I have only lived in Madison since July of 2020. But,

I am sure that I will live here for many years to come.

Tell us about your family.

I am the only child of two amazing parents that are

both from Natchez where I grew up. Our family unit

is very small, but I have a wonderful, large, extended

family that is located all over the state of Mississippi

and the United States. I love to visit and spend time

with them when there isn’t a global pandemic


What is your favorite memory of living

in Madison?

Since I have only lived in Madison for six months,

I have not made any long-lasting memories YET.

But, I look forward to making many memories in

the years to come of being a Madison resident.

Where are your three favorite places

to eat in Madison?

CAET, Newk’s, and Papitos

What are some fun things to do

in Madison on the weekends?

Because of COVID, I spend a lot of time on the

weekends working around my house and spending

time with my British Labrador Retriever named Tia.

But, when things are safe, I am looking forward to

exploring things like the farmers market and

shopping at the local boutiques on the weekend.

Share some things you enjoy doing

in your spare time.

In my spare time, I enjoy spending time in the

woods, duck and deer hunting, painting, Netflix

binge-watching my favorite shows, and reading.

What are three things on your

bucket list?

The top three items on my bucket list are: traveling

to all 50 states, getting my Master of Business

Administration, and starting a small side business

for digital invitations.

What is your favorite childhood memory?

My favorite childhood memory is spending

Wednesday afternoons after school with my

grandfather. He taught me so many things that

I will take with me throughout my entire life.

I would give anything to have one more

Wednesday afternoon with him.

Who is someone you admire and why?

I greatly admire Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith for

being the first woman elected to Congress to

represent Mississippi. No matter your politics,

you cannot deny that great achievement. I hope

one day that I can achieve something just as great

in my own way.

Where do you see yourself ten years

from now?

Ten years from now, I see myself married with one

or two children while still working in the banking

industry in the Madison area. I love working in the

banking industry, and I hope to start a family in the

years to come.

If you could give us one encouraging

quote, what would it be?

Be who you were created to be, and you will set the

world on fire. - St. Catherine of Siena

Hometown MADISON • 9

10 • JANUARY 2021

Hometown MADISON • 11




Mary Ann Kirby

12 • JANUARY 2021

Anyone that has ever lost a loved one

knows of the longing that comes with

wanting to somehow reconnect. In our

minds, we know they’re gone but we

still need to feel them to know that

they’re ok--- and neither time nor

distance can change that desire.

There’s an old saying that goes,

“When cardinals appear, angels are near.”

I’ve always been enchanted by that idea

as the red cardinal has played many

prominent roles throughout our history.

The notion that cardinals are messengers

of spirits exists across numerous

cultures and beliefs--- just ask anyone

that’s seen one when they

needed it most.

But truth be known, redbirds

are pretty common in this area.

They thrive in this habitat and while

I’d love to think that every time

I see one it’s a spirit-come-to-visit,

it’s just as easy for me to

imagine that it’s not.

In 2012, my grandmother died at the

age of 96. When it was time to clean

out her house, her youngest son from

California (and the sibling-declared

family-favorite among the four of her

children and two grandchildren) came

to Mississippi for a week to help with

the overwhelming task ahead. She had

lived in the same house in Yazoo City

for over 80 years.

There was stuff everywhere–in the

attic, in the garage, in drawers, and in

closets stacked from floor-to-ceiling.

Much of it I had meticulously sorted

over the course of several weeks and

months but when it came time to do

the final clearing, a lot of it was taken

to the curb. We worked for days to

ultimately prepare the house to be sold.

I called the waste management

company to arrange for a special pick-up

since it was just too much to leave until

the regular trash day. They needed a

heads up–it was a lot. Besides, I needed

to get back to Jackson and wanted to

know that it would be taken care of.

Early the next morning, as promised,

the garbage truck ran and around

mid-day I called my uncle to verify that

it had, in-fact, all been cleared away. He

walked outside and was just astounded

at what had previously been an absolute

massive amount of rubbish. The

mountain had been reduced to a single

random Christmas ball. Every bit of it

was gone.

As he leaned over to scoop up the

old faded ornament, he noticed

something shining in the grass. He

reached down to find a little gold heart

charm. The irony was not lost on him

that it was all that was left–and that he

had found it. He stuck it in his pocket

and went back inside.

His wife was in the kitchen at the

stove fixing a late breakfast. They were

still on California time and were slow

to get going, not to mention worn out

from the several days of hard labor,

prior. He reached in his pocket and

showed her the heart-shaped trinket

and when she flipped it over, she

noticed right away that it was engraved

with the name John. That was his name

–my grandmother’s youngest son–the

declared family favorite, which now

seemed somehow divinely confirmed.

Coincidence? Maybe.

Hometown MADISON • 13

Several years before her death, my grandmother gave me an

enamel-coated steel colander. It had belonged to her, seen decades of

usage, and was the only “strainer” I had. I used it regularly and often.

It had long-since begun to rust where some of the enamel had

chipped away, but I continued to use it anyway. I eventually purchased

a new one–coincidently, after she passed. The one she gave me was

just too rusty. So one day I decided to throw it away.

I put it in the garbage. I took it out of the garbage. I put it back in the

garbage and before I even closed the lid I reached back in to rescue it.

It was not just a rusted colander but a piece of my past–and a piece of

someone important to me. I thought to myself, “This is ridiculous!”

And after wrangling with it for almost an hour, I proceeded to shove

it down into the trash bag and tie it shut, once and for all.

The weather on the morning of “trash-day” was bleak. It was

already drizzling and the forecast called for the possibility of severe

conditions later that afternoon. By the time I got home from work,

dark had fallen. It was storming with 30-mile-per-hour winds, and

my garbage can had blown clear to the end of the cul-de-sac. I had

no choice but to battle it out and go get it.

The rain was blowing sideways and I was soaking wet and dragging

the garbage can behind me. I noticed what appeared to be some type

of helmet in the grass next to the curb–dome shaped and glistening

under the streetlight in the pouring down rain. Maybe it was my son’s.

I’d grab it as I dashed up the driveway.

But it was no helmet. It was that colander, turned upside down and

sitting there all by itself. How did it get out of the bag that I had so

painstakingly and reluctantly tied together? I was stunned–and still

am to this day.

Coincidence? Maybe.

14 • JANUARY 2021

So a few weeks ago, I was in our backyard building a fire in our fire

pit. I had decided to dispose of some sensitive paperwork that really

should have been shredded, but burning was simply more convenient

and certainly more fun. In the closing of my grandmother’s estate, I

had stored countless banking statements and papers that needed to

be discarded but were too sensitive to just put in the trash–and still

held value in my heart. So I poured a glass of wine and my husband

and son helped load up the fire pit. I recalled funny stories about my

beloved grandmother as they continued to crumple up papers and

put them below the logs. Then we lit them.

The fire struggled to catch. My wood was wet. I decided to add

some kindling from a pot we keep nearby. That’s when I saw the

blooms. For 30 or 40 years, my grandmother had a pot of succulents

on her back porch that stood year-round on a little dime-store plant

stand in the rain, sun, sleet and occasional snow. She was a master

gardener and yet these succulents were the only plant-life I brought

home with me after her death. I’d had them now for four years and

they live on my back patio next to a big fat pot of kindling. I looked

down and they were in full bloom–and they hadn’t been the day before.

I’ve never seen them bloom. Ever. I didn’t even know they would.

So, I’ve decided they were blooming just for me. As if to say, it’s ok to

let go–just never forget.

Coincidence? Maybe. But it serves as a wonderful reminder that we’re

never far apart. The truth is that the bond we share with those we

love is a bond never lost or broken–not even by death. Death just

changes the dimensions–like water, evaporating into steam.

Or like a redbird sitting on a window ledge singing, “My spirit will

live on forever there within your heart.” n

Hometown MADISON • 15

16 • JANUARY 2021

Help us help


© Copyright 2019 BankPlus.

Member FDIC.

Friends of Children’s Hospital

supports Batson Children’s Hospital,

part of University of Mississippi

Health Care, Mississippi’s

ONLY hospital designed for the care

and treatment of sick or injured children.

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to change on an annual basis.

Friends of Children’s

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donated to Friends

BankPlus makes a donation to Friends each

time the card is used

Available via instant issue

Since inception, the Friends CheckCard has raised

almost $2,000,000


Hometown MADISON • 17

18 • JANUARY 2021


Hometown Girl





Erin Williams

Madison resident Whitney Gladden is a lot of things to a

lot of people. She’s a dedicated wife, loving mama, attorney,

registered therapy dog handler, community service advocate,

and a fitness instructor, to name just a few. In addition to all

of her existing roles, Whitney added a new platform to her

daily duties in 2020–Mrs. Mississippi America.

“It’s still so exciting for me to even talk about my current

title as Mrs. Mississippi America because honestly I’m not a

pageant person historically,” said Whitney. “I never competed

in pageants growing up, except for the one year I did Junior

Miss as a teen. The only thing I won that year was an award

for most ads sold!”

Although her entrance into, and success in, the pageant

world came as a surprise to Whitney initially, it’s a platform

she has truly come to enjoy.

“My husband Lee’s family followed friends in pageantry as

he was growing up, so it was familiar to him,” said Whitney.

“For 10 years, he always told me I would be good at pageants,

but I never really understood why until I got involved in it.

So I said no for a while before finally saying yes.”

Whitney’s first pageant in the “Mrs.” division was in 2017,

and Whitney has been fortunate to win multiple titles in that

time before achieving her current win as Mrs. Mississippi

America in 2020.

“I am a naturally competitive person, but I’ve always

focused more on competing against myself. I just work hard

to bring the best version of Whitney Gladden to the table,”

she said. “I love the discipline it takes to compete, to work to

further a cause you’re so passionate about, and how it can set

an example for my kids that you can accomplish whatever

you want in any stage of your life.”

Hometown MADISON • 19

Although Whitney’s husband Lee is one of her biggest

supporters, he’d no doubt have to compete for the title of

“biggest fan” with their two children, Tucker and Macy,

whom Whitney says are two of “the absolute best things

I ever did in life.”

Tucker and Macy have also been integral to Whitney in

her pageant career because their heart and focus on community

service has inspired her platform, Kids for a Cause. “Kids

for a Cause was inspired by my two kids. It’s about getting

kids involved in meaningful service opportunities so that they

can give back to others in their community,” said Whitney.

“Can you imagine what would happen if we had an entire

generation of people who lived in a mentality of serving

others? It would change the whole world!”

Her children understand her platform firsthand. They

are the founders of a service organization themselves, The

Provision Project. The Provision Project aims to meet the

needs of homeless people in their community through gift

drives and fundraising projects. Tucker and Macy also enjoy

accompanying mom and their registered therapy dog,

Chicken Nugget, on community service projects to places

like Shower Power or The Grace House. In all that they do,

community service is rooted in the day-to-day lives of every

member of the Gladden family, right down to Chicken

Nugget himself!

“My kids have such genuine, service oriented hearts, and

it’s something God did in them, not us,” said Whitney.

“They inspire Lee and me both, really. They’re world changers,

and they prove that you don’t need a title to change the


Whitney went on to talk about her faith and the way

that it impacts each decision in her life. She spoke about how

there is no greater crown anyone could wear than the crown

that God puts on your head.

20 • JANUARY 2021

“This title is like a megaphone. When you

have a crown on your head, suddenly people

want to hear what you have to say,” said

Whitney. “It has put me in a bigger space to

share my ideals and my faith. I’m here to

glorify God and for others to see Jesus through

me, and through my family. And at the end of

the day, regardless of if I ever win another title,

I know who I am and I know who Jesus

thinks I am.”

Although Whitney is preparing to compete

in the national Mrs. America pageant, which

is currently set to take place in Las Vegas on

January 22-30, she stresses that you don’t need

a title to change the world.

“When I no longer have this title, and that

day will come, you can still find me spreading

the same message, said Whitney. “Right now,

I just have a bigger stage.” ●

Hometown MADISON • 21



22 • JANUARY 2021


Chicken & Dumplings


• 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

• 2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken

breast, cubed

• 1 cup diced yellow onion

• 1 cup sliced carrot

• 3 cloves garlic cloves, minced

• 1 teaspoon salt

• 5 tablespoons unsalted butter

• 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour

• 6 cups chicken broth

• ½ cup heavy cream

• ½ teaspoon dried thyme

• 2 bay leaves

• 1½ cups frozen peas

• 4 tablespoons fresh parsley,


Heat oil over medium-high heat in a

6-quart Dutch oven. Add chicken and

cook until browned on both sides.

Remove from pot and set aside. Add

carrot and onion and cook until just

tender, approximately 3 minutes.

Add garlic and stir until fragrant,

about 1 minute. Reduce heat to

medium-low, add butter and flour,

stirring constantly for 3 minutes to

prevent lumps from forming. Add

chicken and any accumulated juices

back to the pot and stir to coat in

the roux. Add chicken broth, cream,

thyme, and bay leaves and bring to

a simmer. Once the soup is at a

simmer, add the frozen peas, cover,

and cook for 15 minutes.


• 2 cups all-purpose flour

• 1 tablespoon baking powder

• ½ teaspoon salt

• ½ teaspoon pepper

• 1⅓ cups heavy cream

In a large mixing bowl, combine

flour, baking powder, salt, pepper,

and cream. Stir until well combined.

Using a large spoon, form dough

into small round 1-inch balls about

(about 15 dumplings). Making sure

they don’t touch, place dough balls

in the simmering soup, then add the

parsley and cover. Let the soup

simmer for 15 minutes, or until the

dumplings are cooked through.


Potato Soup

• 5 slices bacon, diced

• 3 T butter

• 1 cup diced white or yellow onion

• 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

• ¼ cup all-purpose flour

• 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock

• 2 cups milk, warmed

• 1½ pounds Yukon gold

potatoes, diced

• 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar


• 1½ cup plain Greek yogurt or

sour cream

• 1 teaspoon sea salt

• ½ teaspoon freshly-cracked

black pepper

Heat a large pot over mediumhigh

heat. Add diced bacon and

cook until crispy, stirring occasionally.

Transfer bacon to a separate plate,

using a slotted spoon (if short on

time, dice the potatoes and onion

while the bacon cooks).

Add onion and sauté for 5 minutes,

stirring occasionally, until soft. Stir

in garlic and sauté for an extra 1-2

minutes, until fragrant. Stir the flour

into the mixture and sauté for an

additional 1 minute to cook the

flour, stirring occasionally. Then

stir in the stock until combined,

followed by the milk and potatoes.

Continue cooking until mixture

just reaches a simmer, before it

begins to boil. Reduce heat to

medium-low, cover, and simmer for

10-15 minutes or until potatoes are

soft, being sure to stir the soup every

few minutes so that the bottom does

not burn (the smaller you dice your

potatoes, the faster your soup will


Once the potatoes are softened,

stir in the cheddar cheese and Greek

yogurt (or sour cream), salt, pepper

and cooked bacon bits. Season with

extra salt and pepper, if needed.

Recommended toppings:

thinly- sliced green onions or chives,

extra shredded cheese, extra bacon,

sour cream

Serve warm, garnished with

desired toppings. Refrigerate for

up to 3 days.


Crockpot Chili

• 5 slices hardwood smoked bacon

• 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped

• 1 green bell pepper, finely chopped

• ½ cup celery, finely chopped

• 1 cup yellow onion, finely chopped

• 1-2 small jalapeno peppers, seeds

removed and finely diced (optional)

• 2 15 oz. cans chili/pinto beans in

medium sauce

• 1 15 oz. can chili (pinto or kidney)

beans in mild sauce

• 2 28 oz. cans petite diced

tomatoes, undrained

• 1 6 oz. can tomato paste

• 2 pounds ground beef chuck

• 1 pound Italian sausage


• 4 T chili powder

• 1 T dried oregano

• 2 tsp. cumin

• 1 tsp. dried basil

• 1 tsp. seasoned salt

• 3/4 teaspoon pepper

• 1 tsp. cayenne pepper

• 1 tsp. paprika

• 1 T white sugar

• 1 T Worcestershire sauce

• 1 T minced garlic

• 3 beef bouillon cubes

• Optional: fresh cilantro, sour

cream, shredded cheddar cheese

In a skillet over medium heat, cook

bacon until crisp. Remove onto a

paper towel lined plate and dab off

excess grease. Reserve bacon grease in

skillet. Remove stems and seeds from

red and green peppers finely chop.

Finely chop celery and onion. Chop

jalapeno pepper and remove seeds if

desired–leave them in for extra heat.

Add red pepper, green pepper,

celery, onion, and jalapeno pepper to

the skillet with the reserved bacon

grease. Sauté the veggies over

medium heat until tender. Transfer

to the crockpot. Add in the three cans

of chili beans (undrained and do not

rinse), petite diced tomatoes, and

tomato paste to the crockpot. In the

same skillet used to cook the bacon

and veggies, cook ground beef chuck

and Italian sausage over medium high

heat until no longer pink.

Drain off all the fat and add into

slow cooker. Add all seasonings to

crockpot. Crumble bacon (or chop)

into very small pieces and stir into

crockpot. OR reserve the bacon in

the fridge and add at the end. Stir

everything together. Cover and cook

on low for 6-8 hours. Taste and adjust

seasonings (salt, pepper, chili powder,

etc.) Enjoy with fresh cilantro, sour

cream and cheddar cheese.


Simple Vegetable Soup

• 3 medium russet potatoes

• 1 T olive oil

• 1/2 yellow onion, finely diced

• 1 16 oz. bag frozen mixed


• 1 15 oz. can corn

• 1 15 oz. can tomato sauce

• 1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes

• 4 cups vegetable broth

• 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning

• 1/2 tsp. paprika

• 2 teaspoon garlic powder

• salt and pepper to taste

• 2-3 drops hot sauce (optional)

Stovetop Method

Finely dice half a large yellow onion.

Add olive oil to a large pot and sauté

onions for approximately 3 minutes.

Wash, peel, and cut potatoes into

bite-sized pieces. Add potatoes, frozen

vegetables, corn and remaining

ingredients to the pot and stir well to

combine. Turn heat to low, cover, and

simmer for 30 minutes, or until

vegetables are tender. Serve warm.

Slow Cooker Method

Dice onions and potatoes as listed

above. Add all ingredients into the

slow cooker and stir to combine.

Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours

or high for 3-4 hours. Serve warm.


Wonton Soup

• 50 - 60 wonton wrappers

• 7 oz. ground pork

• 7 oz. peeled prawns/shrimp,


• 1 T ginger, finely grated

• 2 shallots/green onions, finely


• 1 T light soy sauce

• 2 T Chinese cooking wine

• 1/2 tsp. salt

• 2 T sesame oil

Place ingredients in a bowl. Use a

potato masher to mash until fairly

smooth, but not completely – small

chunks are good. Lay wontons on a

work surface. Use two teaspoons to

put the filling on the wontons. Brush

two edges with water. Fold to seal,

pressing out air. Brush water on one

corner and bring corners together,

pressing to seal. Place wrapped

wontons into a container with a lid as

you work, so they don’t dry out.

Broth (for 2 servings)

• 3 cups chicken broth

• 2 garlic cloves, smashed

• 1 piece of ginger, sliced (optional)

• 1½ T light soy sauce

• 2 tsp. sugar

• 1½ T Chinese cooking wine

• ¼ - ½ tsp. sesame oil

Place ingredients in a saucepan over

high heat. Add white ends of scallions

/shallots if leftover from wonton

filling. Cover, bring to simmer then

reduce to medium high and simmer

for 5-10 minutes. Meanwhile, bring a

large pot of water to boil. Cook

wontons four minutes or until they

float. Remove with slotted spoon into

serving bowls. Pick garlic and ginger

out of broth. If using vegetables, blanch

in the soup broth and place in serving

bowl. Prepare noodles according to

packet directions (if using noodles).

Place in serving bowl with cooked

wontons and blanched vegetables.


• Shallots/scallions, finely chopped

• Bok choy, quartered

• 1½ oz. dried egg noodles per


Ladle broth into serving bowls and



Lobster Bisque

• 3 T butter

• 1 cup white or yellow onions,


• ½ cup chopped carrots

• ½ cup chopped celery

• 3 garlic cloves, minced

• 3 T tomato paste

• 3 T flour

• 2 cups seafood stock

• 1 cup white wine

• ¼ cup cognac or brandy (optional)

• 12 oz. (or more) chopped lobster

• 1 tsp. smoked paprika

• 1 bay leaf

• 1 sprig fresh thyme (or ½ tsp.

dried thyme)

• ¼ tsp. cayenne

• ½ cup (or more) heavy cream

• Salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, melt butter over

medium-high heat. Add onions,

carrots, celery, garlic and tomato

paste, and sauté for 5 minutes, or until

onions are cooked and translucent.

Sprinkle mixture with flour, and stir to

evenly coat the veggies. Sauté for one

minute. Add seafood stock, white

wine, cognac (optional), lobster meat,

paprika, bay leaf, thyme and cayenne,

and stir to combine. Cook for 30

minutes over medium-low heat,

stirring occasionally. Remove bay leaf

and sprig of thyme. Stir in heavy

cream, and season if needed with

extra salt and pepper. Puree soup

using an immersion blender, or

transfer in small batches into a

traditional blender and blend until


Hometown MADISON • 23








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24 • JANUARY 2021

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In a year filled

with tremendous challenges

and heartache, there have also

been stories of great triumph and

achievement. We’re all on our own personal

journeys–but celebrating the success of

others serves as motivation to many.

It is in that spirit that we present a

collection of stories we lovingly call

Renewed, Restored, Redeemed.

Happy New Year!

We wish you the very best

that 2021 has to offer.

Hometown MADISON • 25


Melanie McMillan

When Taylor and Kevin McKay lost their

home to a fire right before the birth of their

first child, family, friends, and even strangers,

rallied around them to help. As they watched

their beloved home burn, they could not have

imagined the blessings that would follow. In

the midst of the tragedy, the McKays have

focused on the positives and are grateful for

the love of community.

Taylor and Kevin met as freshmen at Brandon

High School. The high school sweethearts

married in 2018 and began their life together.

Taylor, a nurse at St. Dominic’s, and Kevin,

who works at Eaton Aerospace, began building

a new home in 2019 and eagerly anticipated the

arrival of their first child. “As any new mom can

imagine, I was having the best time decorating

the nursery,” Taylor says. The McKays moved

into their new home in March of 2020 and

looked forward to their daughter’s arrival a

few months later.

At 6:30 on the morning of October 15th,

the McKays’ world changed dramatically. Kevin

had already left home for work, and Taylor awoke

to her dog barking and what sounded like water

running. She opened her bedroom door and saw

flames surrounding the door to the garage, which

was extremely close to her bedroom. Grabbing

her phone, she climbed out the window and

called 911. Kevin’s father was staying with them,

and she ran to his window to alert him and get

him out of the house. Their loyal pet who had

awakened Taylor with his barking never left her

side, standing as her protector.

The 911 operator was so kind and did his

best to calm and comfort Taylor while she waited

for help. The police arrived first, and as it was a

cold morning, Officer Dan Carter settled Taylor

in his car where it was warm. Firefighters arrived

and went to work quickly, but since there are no

fire hydrants in the neighborhood, water had to

be brought in. EMTs, firefighters, and police

officers made numerous trips inside the house

to rescue anything they could that seemed

sentimental or valuable. “I cannot thank them

enough for that,” says Taylor. “They saved many

family pictures and sentimental things that we

would never be able to replace. This was huge

to me that these people would go inside a

burning house grabbing things they could save

for my family. It truly meant so much to the

both of us. I hope they know how thankful

we are for them.”

Losing a home to fire is overwhelming,

with so many details to be worked through,

not the least of which is where you will live

until you can rebuild. Luckily, Taylor’s grandmother,

Jessica Lay, had enough room in her

home for Taylor and Kevin, and even an extra

room to use for a nursery. “We knew for the

immediate future we had a place to lay our

heads at night,” says Taylor, “and I’m so

thankful for this.”

26 • JANUARY 2021

“God is the light in all that burned rubble and darkness, leading us to a precious stone

that represents our promise to each other. He is a miracle worker.”

–Taylor McKay

Watching her beautiful new home burning,

Taylor was heartbroken to realize that she didn’t

have her wedding ring on, and knew it was in

the house. As a nurse, she’s not able to wear her

ring while working, and it was still in her work

bag from the day before. Taylor says, “I knew

the ring could be replaced but it just wouldn’t be

the same.” A kind firefighter stayed long after

the fire was out to help them look through the

debris for the ring but they were unable to find

it. Two days later, Taylor’s sisters, Lindsey and

Jordan, and a family friend came to the house

to help look for the ring. After searching for

about 30 minutes, they stumbled upon a pen

that Taylor recognized as one she had used at

work the day before the fire. Tears filled her

eyes because she knew then that they were

getting close to where the ring might be. The

search continued and within a few minutes

Jordan and Lindsey had found the ring under a

piece of burnt wood. “Somehow it wasn’t melted,”

Taylor says. “I figured if we found anything it

would just be the diamond but somehow God

allowed us to find the whole ring. I think this

was Him telling me it’s all going to be okay and

that we will make it through this.”

When the fire happened, Taylor and Kevin

were just one month away from their baby girl’s

arrival, or so they thought. On Friday, October

30th, Taylor had an appointment with her

doctor and, because of the pandemic, it was the

first time Kevin was able to go with her. They

excitedly watched their baby girl on the screen

during the ultrasound, but found out from the

doctor that due to some minor complications,

they would be welcoming her to the world in

just a few days. It was an exciting but stressful

time, as they were still reeling from the fire and

now needed to make preparations to bring their

daughter home. Taylor shares, “I was very

emotional about not having our house to bring

her home to, but so many family and friends

and even people we do not know sent us baby

clothing, diapers, and everything else we needed.”

On Tuesday, November 3, Sully Ruth made

her debut and brought such joy to her parents,

helping them heal from the pain of the fire.

As they were building their home, Taylor

and Kevin wrote Bible verses on the studs in

each room. Miraculously, one of the studs,

and the Bible verse written on it, were intact.

“Through all this God has continued to

shine through in what we felt was devastating.

He has truly shown us that for some reason this

was his plan, and that he is taking care of us,”

Taylor says. “Kevin and I are both so thankful

that we’re safe. We know the house can be

replaced. We will forever be grateful for all the

first responders, family, and friends that showed

up for us and helped us along this season in our

lives. We know without God and the help of

family, friends and the community of Brandon,

we could not have made it through this.”

Hometown MADISON • 27


Waiting doesn’t fit well in the average human’s lifestyle,

but waiting combined with resoluteness can bring life-changing rewards.

Tony & Deidra Rosenberger are admirable examples of that truth.



Camille Anding

28 • JANUARY 2021

Their relationship began in June of 1994. Deidra had just graduated from high school in

Oxford, Ohio, and Tony had graduated one year earlier. One of Deidra’s friends was dating a friend

of Tony’s, so it was those friends that introduced Deidra and Tony. That meeting resulted in a

bond that they sealed with their wedding vows on April 22, 1995.

In 2013, a job offer for Tony, backed by a leap of faith, moved the Rosenbergers to Madison,

Mississippi. By this time the couple had all but given up hope on having children. Doctors were

stumped on why Deidra couldn’t become pregnant, so the couple turned to every option available

in infertility treatment. In 2016, precancerous cells dictated a complete hysterectomy for Deidra.

With that surgery, the couple knew all biological options were exhausted.

For years, the couple had considered adoption as a means to having children of their own.

Now it wasn’t just an option but their only path. Their first contact with an adoption agency in

2017 was disappointing due to the financial requirements exceeding their resources. Foster care

would be their next avenue with intentions to adopt.

Deidra and Tony completed foster classes and met the qualifications in the home study.

Next was to find a group of foster siblings that were eligible for adoption.

DHS knew the Rosenbergers’ desire to adopt siblings but couldn’t promise a quick answer.

It would be a waiting game. Meanwhile Tony began to pursue online listings of children for

adoption from out of state with TPR (Termination of Parental Rights) status. These listings are

known as Heart Galleries.

Tony located four children in Indiana that captured his attention. Deidra emailed DHS in

Indiana saying she and Tony were interested in the four. However a baby, recently added to the

four, was not yet up for adoption. The waiting was on again.

A month and a half later, the Rosenbergers were notified that all five children were now

adoption eligible and that the couple could come for an interview. Also, three other couples were

interviewing, wanting to adopt the five.

On October 12, 2017, DHS conducted the interview and asked lots of questions. The

Rosenbergers headed home, believing that the interview had gone well. An hour later, Deidra’s

phone rang. DHS was calling to see if they would like to meet the kids in Terre Haute, Indiana,

the very next day. It was an immediate U-turn for the excited couple.

Their first meeting was like a story out of a fairy tale. “It felt right from the very beginning,”

Deidra said. “There wasn’t an awkward moment. They took to us, and we took to them.

Everything just clicked.”

It was back to Mississippi on Saturday for the couple, and on Monday, they got a call from

DHS verifying their foremost desire. The five children could be adopted!

From October of 2017 to March of 2018, Deidra and Tony left their jobs every Thursday after

work to drive to Indiana to pick up the children. The five kids were living in three different foster

homes, each forty minutes apart. DHS required that visiting time be allowed for the transition

and adjustment of everyone involved. The visits began with two hour meetings and eventually

hotel stays until a foster parent of the twins arranged for them to stay in a duplex a local

Christian agency owned. “We lived for weekends,” the couple admitted.

The kids were brought home on March 3, 2018, and it was a wonderful new life for parents

and kids when the adoptions were completed on October 23, 2019. Even new names were in

order. The seven- year-old daughter chose her own name, Piper. The four-year-old twin boy and

girl were named Anthony and Quinn. The two-year-old became Stephen, and the one-year-old

was named David.

The Rosenbergers’ 1900-square-foot home with three bedrooms worked for a while, but in

November of 2019 the family moved to a bigger home and yard. Deidra left her position with

Mississippi Premier Plastic Surgery in December to stay home with the kids.

Today the children are active in school and sports and have adjusted beautifully. The biggest

hurdle for the parents was finding a routine to fit the kids’ needs. Anthony, one of the twins, had

medical issues - a heart defect, was nonverbal and had a feeding tube. With ongoing speech and

feeding therapy at Batson Children’s Hospital, removal of his feeding tube, and treatment by his

cardiologist, Anthony is now talking, running and playing with his siblings.

When thinking back over the years of waiting and longing for children of their own, the

Rosenbergers attest to how God’s plan always falls into place.

There are spring plans for soccer and cheer. Deidra added, “Piper wants to play softball for

the first time. We’re trying it all!” Some fairy tales really do come true.

Hometown MADISON • 29



Lauren von Foregger

Gregg & Sidney Harper of Pearl are counting

their blessings as 2021 will mark six years since Gregg,

a member of the United States Congress from 2009-2019,

experienced a blockage in his major artery, a condition known

as “the widow maker.”

30 • JANUARY 2021

Gregg was at home one weekend in June

2015, mowing the lawn. He noticed that he

felt tired and winded. “Mowing the lawn was

something I did often, and I never felt winded

like that; we have a really small yard!” he recounts.

“I would sit and rest and then I’d be fine, so I’d

go back and start again, and a few minutes later,

I’d have to sit down again.”

Gregg decided to take the symptoms

seriously as his father had died of a massive heart

attack in 1993 at the age of 67. He was slated to

fly back to Washington D.C. the next day, where

he made an appointment with a physician. At

the appointment, Gregg had an EKG done and

all the results came back as normal.

“I just kept thinking I wanted to be sure,”

he said. “Even though everything was showing

up as normal, I wanted to do more testing.” He

scheduled a stress test for later in the week.

“I go in for the stress test and I’m in there

with the cardiologist and technician, and they

explain that the treadmill test will take about

20 minutes,” he remembers. “Well, a couple

minutes into it, I told the doctor I felt some

sharpness in my chest. He looks at the screen

and he tells the technician, ‘You can stop,

something major is wrong.’ Then he looks at

me and says ‘You are not leaving the hospital


A heart cath revealed that Gregg was

suffering from a 95 percent blockage in his left

anterior descending artery. He was immediately

sent to have a stent placed in his heart.

“When they were prepping me for the stent,

all I could think about was my relationship with

Christ, and my family. My daughter was getting

married soon and I wanted to walk her down

the aisle. I prayed right then and there, ‘Lord,

please let me walk my baby girl down the aisle.’”

Gregg says he immediately felt better after

the successful stent placement.

“You feel a lot better when your blood’s

flowing right,” he says. “As soon as I was cleared,

I could tell the difference. I am so thankful for

the physicians that caught it. I probably should’ve

never gotten on that airplane, but I just will

always be thankful that it was discovered.”

Gregg says he encourages people to be their

own medical advocates when they feel something

is not right. “I encourage anyone with

family history or symptoms of any kind to

please go get yourself checked out.”

Gregg and Sidney Harper reside in Country

Place where they still live in the same home

that they purchased together in 1986. They

have two adult children, Livingston and Maggie,

one grandson, and another grandson on the

way. They are members of Crossgates Baptist

Church. Gregg, though now retired from

his congressional service, is a member of

Watkins & Eager where he does consulting

and lobbying work.

Gregg is serving as the American Heart

Association’s 2021 Heart Ball Chair.

“I know what it’s like to have a heart scare,

so the American Heart Association’s mission

is near and dear to me. I think what they do is

so important: creating awareness around

prevention and getting people the resources

they need to extend their lives.”

The Metro Jackson Heart Ball is a yearround

campaign that supports the life-saving

mission of the American Heart Association.

It is the largest source of revenue for the organization

in the state of Mississippi, contributing

nearly $7 million since its inception. The funds

raised support local research, community

programs, hospital education, CPR training,

and much more.

For event information, visit metrojacksonheartball.heart.org, or contact Jordan Walker, Heart Ball director,

at 601.321.1215 or jordan.walker@heart.org.

Hometown MADISON • 31

Project HOPE

Mary Ann Kirby – Shower Power Director of Operations

Sleeping in a bed is something

we all take for granted.

But according to data that we’ve found, Jackson

has nearly 900 unsheltered citizens that make

tents, abandoned buildings, and bridge

over-passes their sleeping quarters.

In November of 2019, Shower Power MS

(a non-profit founded by Flowood resident and

Jackson native Teresa Renkenberger), began

offering weekly showers for the homeless

community in downtown Jackson. We have

served an estimated 300 unique visitors, roughly

a third of the entire homeless population, at a

rate of 60-70 per week. And the number is


In October of this year, Project Hope, an

extension of Shower Power, was born. Project

Hope serves to identify which of our unsheltered

visitors would be good candidates for

low-income housing–and then helps them

get there.

Lucious is one of the first to have been

entered into the program. He’d been coming to

Shower Power from the very beginning–since

November 2019, and is beloved. He’s 64 years

old, but the last 20+ years on the street have

been hard on him. He seems much older.

He’s originally from Memphis, Tennessee.

He came to Jackson over 20 years ago to bury

his daughter. She died from cancer. (His voice

cracked when I asked him about her.) After the

funeral, he just never left. I’m not entirely sure

what the circumstances were. Maybe he

couldn’t afford to leave. Or maybe he didn’t

want to leave her behind. It’s heartbreaking

either way. He’s lost track of time.

On October 2, Lucious came to Shower

Power and was frail. We were immediately

worried. He couldn’t focus and seemed off

balance, mentally and physically. He said his

medicine had been changed. These guys have

no one to help them manage things like their

prescriptions—assuming they can even get

them filled. He was definitely off. It felt

extremely vulnerable. Lucious is quiet, keeps

to himself, and is very soft-spoken. He’s no

match for the cold streets of Jackson.

32 • JANUARY 2021

He’d previously had a room that he rented

for $200 per month but was turned out after the

room suddenly became unavailable. He secured

a spot at a men’s emergency shelter–which is

where we left him on that day in October–but

not before taking him to see another low cost

apartment, one he categorically could not


But we could.

He was timid. I assumed he was overwhelmed.

He turned to one of our team members

and said, “I love it here.” It’s low income housing

but it’s well run and it feels safe.

Lucious knew he couldn’t afford it and had

tears in his eyes when he tried to convey that by

simply mouthing the words, “I can’t.” But

Lucious didn’t understand what was happening.

That’s where Project Hope comes in to play.

We signed a lease on it and promptly raised the

money to pay his rent for an entire year. And we

are absolutely confident that we’ll raise the

money to keep him there.

We took him back to the emergency shelter

and told him that the very next Friday he’d be

spending the night in his new home—which is

where he’s been ever since. And with the most

bewildered expression, he thanked us. He

whispered, “I don’t even know what to say. I

love y’all so much. I just don’t know what to say.”

$600 per month provides sustainable

housing for our friends and provides money for

groceries. We currently have three in the

program and, as of this publishing, have just

secured a fourth sponsorship. We take them to

the grocery store every couple of weeks—and in

so doing, they’ve become way more than

friends. They’re family. Through the generosity

of others, we’re able to change lives—and our

lives are changed, too.

We moved Lucious into his apartment that

following Friday and he slept for four days. But

the next time we saw him he was stronger, had a

twinkle in his eye, and was immensely grateful.

As are we.

“And the

King will reply,

‘Truly I tell

you, whatever

you did for the

least of these

brothers and

sisters of Mine,

you did for Me.’”

To learn more about Project Hope

and how to donate, visit showerpower.ms

Hometown MADISON • 33

AWeight Loss



34 • JANUARY 2021

Running into an old friend would change Sharon Tipper , s life

in ways she could have never imagined by helping her shed

over 60 pounds and regain her health and happiness.

During a chance encounter at

the 2019 Mistletoe Marketplace,

Sharon ran into an old friend that

she simply did not recognize due

to her weight loss. She said, “I had

to do a double take because she

looked so different.” Admitting

her friend, Lynnette McNeil,

looked simply “incredible,” she

was compelled to find out exactly

what she had been doing.

At the time, Sharon had been

struggling with her own health and

weight issues. Having little energy

and a plummeting self esteem that

was causing her distress in daily

life, she revealed, “The Lord said to

me that this is not the life I called

you to live.” Adding to her distress,

her weight was causing shortness

of breath, body aches, and just

general unwellness.

Wanting to “hide from the

world,” Sharon was ready to make

a real change in her life. Her

husband, Carey, and daughter,

Ansley Morgan, were behind her

one hundred percent. She recalled,

“My husband is my biggest

supporter. When I talked to him

about it, he told me, ‘Do it for you

sweetheart.’” Overcome with

emotion remembering those who

have been her rocks during this

time, she lovingly spoke of each

person that has been instrumental

in her success.

She then contacted Lynnette

who became her health coach and

part of her support system. With

the support of her friends and

family and the guidance of

Lynnette, Sharon eagerly began her

journey on Memorial Day 2020.

Eating several small meals

during the day, avoiding junk food,

soft drinks, and aiming for 10,000

steps daily, it wasn’t long before

the weight started peeling away.

Daughter Ansley has been

Sharon’s biggest cheerleader always

expressing how proud she is of her

mom. These little constant words

of encouragement have helped her

push through the hard days and

trials she has faced along the way.

The love and support she has felt

has made a huge impact on her life.

As the weight melted away,

Sharon’s confidence and overall

happiness began to return. “My

family, friends, and work family

have been my biggest supporters

and always help me stay on track,”

she explained. Sharon’s co-workers

at Highland Endodontics in

Madison support and cheer her

on daily. Her friends also keep

her needs in mind when hosting

dinners or meetings at restaurants

so Sharon can stay on track with

her goals. This type of support is

vital to accomplishing such an

objective and her circle has risen

to the challenge to help ensure her

success. Sharon considers herself

fortunate to have so many people

behind her during her journey.

Her health coach has been a

constant encourager and support

system to keep her positive

throughout this journey as well.

Lynnette said, “I love seeing how

much more she is enjoying life now

because of all the effort she’s put

into creating new healthy habits

that will last her a lifetime.”

Regaining her health has been

Sharon’s main goal and motivation.

“My biggest victory through all of

this is resolving IBS health issues.

They have completely gone away,”

she admits.

Health coach Lynnette added,

“Sharon is a lady on fire for her

health and I’m so blessed and proud

to walk alongside her and so many

other people just like us who were

tired of not being able to have the

quality of life we longed for.”

Sharon isn’t done yet. Full

steam ahead and not looking back

to her former ways, she hopes to

lose an additional 20lbs. A journey

like this has its ups and downs as

well as setbacks. Sharon encourages,

“Believe in yourself. You are worth

the investment in yourself.” For

those wanting to begin a similar

journey, she suggests finding an

accountability partner. Sharon said,

“There will be hard days, you need

someone to encourage and keep

you positive.”

Sharon is taking her journey

one day at a time and enjoying her

new vigor for life and renewed

health. She said, “The Lord keeps

showing me that I can do all things

through Him.” She is excited to see

what the future holds.

Hometown MADISON • 35

Picking Up



Mistie Desper


36 • JANUARY 2021

The heart of a teacher not only serves but loves, shapes, and molds each student

as if they were their own child. Local teacher Caribeth Robinson took her love

and compassion one step further by opening her home in a time of need for one

child almost five years ago. That decision has changed her and her family’s life

as well as the life of young Jay Williams.

Caribeth, entering her 16th year of teaching

in the Canton School District, fondly recalls

being able to be involved in her students’ daily

lives over the years.

When 6-year-old Jay was in her second

grade class years ago, he and his family suffered

an unimaginable tragedy. Jay’s family was

victim to a violent crime that involved a gang

related shooting. This shooting riddled their

apartment with bullets and left his 9-year-old

brother shot ten times and severely wounded.

An angel was watching over the boys that night.

Jay walked away unharmed. His older brother

miraculously survived the brutal attack, as

well, but was in need of an extended hospital

stay and the full attention and care of their

mother. Jay was having trouble getting to

school every day. Heartbroken at what her

student was going through, Caribeth felt

called and led to offer a lending hand the

only way she knew how.

Caribeth approached her own family who

were all in favor of offering any help needed so

Jay could remain in school and maintain what

little normalcy he could. With her family on

board, she reached out to Jay’s mother offering

assistance until the woman was able to get her

other son’s health restored and regain her

ability to care for her children. Caribeth and

her family soon opened their home to Jay. She

said, “Jay has been an absolute blessing and a

gift to our family.”

In the following months, the opportunity

presented itself to become legal guardians of

Jay and they jumped without a second thought.

They had all quickly fallen in love with him and

he was already an integral part of their family.

Caribeth and her children, 17-year-old twins

Kate and Kyle Brasher and 15-year-old Kelli

Brasher, already considered Jay “theirs.” The

legal stuff was just a formality at that point.

Since then, Jay has thrived continuously

and the family has worked hard to ease his

transition and to make things as easy as possible

for him. Caribeth sought the help of her

African-American co-workers and friends

to learn the little things to make his life easier.

She remembered, “I took Jay to a regular barber

just not knowing. My principal at the time took

one look at him and asked me what I had done

to him. I just didn’t know.” Looking back and

finding a little humor, she admits there was a

slight learning curve.

Caribeth fondly recalled how her community

and friends have rallied around them and

treated Jay as their own. She said, “Everyone

has been so kind and welcoming.” Jay who

affectionately calls Caribeth “CB” added,

“I love them and I’m glad that they love me.”

Jay’s childhood experience has been

something no child should ever witness. His

resilience, determination, and sheer strength

is astonishing to all who know him.

Jay, now an 11-year-old fifth grader, is a

typical boy that loves sports. Caribeth gushed,

“He is a major baseball player, a true sweetheart,

and just a precious boy.”

Coach Joey Evans has had the opportunity

to coach Jay in baseball on several teams. He said,

“I’m a firm believer that coincidences are what

we often use as a means of explaining God’s

plan that we can’t yet fully understand or see,

and Jay entering my world was no coincidence.”

Admitting he knew early on that Jay was a kid

who had faced more than his share of adversity

he added, “The Jay we know today is not the

first to hang his head. In fact, he is the first to

lift his teammates up when they fall.”

Coach Jason Regan shared the same

sentiments. Both coaches rave about Jay’s

natural athletic talents and abilities. Coach

Regan added, “I watched Jay use the game of

baseball to help him learn how to deal with

adversity and become more mentally tough.”

Jay’s love of baseball is very clear. He said,

“I love having a big brother that always messes

with me and teaches me about baseball. I want

to be able to throw a fastball at 95mph soon.”

Jay extended kind words about his teammates

as well. Bonds like the ones with his family,

coaches, teammates, and teachers have helped

shape who he is today.

One of his favorite teachers, Shelly Gates,

bonded with him over sports. She lovingly

said, “Jay is one amazing kid. He never let his

circumstances define him. He came to school

every day with a smile on his face and a

willingness to work hard.” She admitted these

were the same characteristics of his older sister

Kelli and admirable qualities clearly being

taught at home. She added, “Jay chose to

overcome what was in the past and looks

forward to all that is in his very bright future.”

Of that very future, Jay confidently said,

“I’m going to pitch for the New York Yankees

one day.”

The outcome of a tragedy has grown into

an immense blessing for Caribeth, Jay, and

his siblings, Kate, Kyle, and Kelli. Caribeth

has been Jay’s legal guardian for five years now

and plans to finalize adoption in the future.

Right now, they are just enjoying a full life

with Jay. And Caribeth is relishing in all the

joys of raising her four children.

Hometown MADISON • 37


At the TOP of His Game

Susan Marquez

38 • JANUARY 2021

At six feet tall, Jeff Wall says he has always been a big guy.

“I’ve battled my weight my entire adult life,” he says. But at 58 years old, he

found himself weighing in at 242 pounds and knew he had to do something

to turn his health around. “I was clinically obese, and that was scary.”

Jeff knew what it was like to be at

the top of his game. “About 15 years

ago I was into power lifting. I felt so

good at 215 pounds, and even then,

I was carrying a lot more muscle, which

weighs more.”

Six months ago, Jeff and his wife,

Cynthia, hired a health coach and got

serious about losing weight. “What we

learned in the process is the things we

were eating were not right. Our coach

helped us with a structured nutrition

plan.” Eating six meals a day, Jeff never

got hungry. His eating was intentional

and planned for optimum weight loss.

He set a goal for himself to lose 27

pounds. “The first week, I lost 9.8 pounds.

I realized then that I needed to up my

goal!” Hoping to lose 50 pounds, Jeff

stuck with the plan and in five months,

he exceeded his goal, and he says he

did it simply by eating the proper foods.

Now Jeff weighs 179 pounds, down

63 pounds from his starting point. He

currently weighs the same amount he

weighed when he graduated from high

school. “People tell me all the time that

I’m getting too skinny, but for my height,

this is a healthy weight.” So healthy, in

fact, that when Jeff had a physical

recently to renew his life insurance, he

realized he was as healthy as he had

ever been in his life. “My body mass index

was healthy. The doctor ran a blood

panel and did an EKG, and all indicators

came back in the normal range. The

only reason I did not get the highest

rating from the insurance company is

because I had recently lost a significant

amount of weight. The insurance

company statistics show that 88% of

people regain their weight by the

second year. I’m determined to be in the

12% of people who keep the weight off!”

When he started his weight loss

journey, Jeff did not exercise. He had to

lose his goal weight before he could

start an exercise program. Now he rides

his Peloton bike three to four times

week, and he does Peloton yoga and

strength classes. “I don’t miss a day,” he

says. “Exercise is something I look

forward to. This is a whole new lifestyle

for me.”

Jeff and Cynthia are now health

coaches themselves, helping others to

achieve their desired weight. “Having a

doctor-developed nutrition plan makes

all the difference. This is not a temporary

thing. It is a long-term lifestyle change,

and having a coach keeps you accountable

to another person. But really, in the

end, you must be true to yourself. When

I hit my goal weight and realized how

good it feels to be healthy, I decided I

never want to go back to my old ways.”

Hometown MADISON • 39


What does it mean to you?

It’s not a one-size-fits-all word. One person’s

vision of prosperity is different from the next.

Mascagni Wealth Management isn’t a

one-size-fits-all firm. We are full-service

financial planners who value that each of our

clients come from different backgrounds, have

different family needs and life goals. Some of

our clients have been with us since we opened

our doors in 1988. That’s because we take the

time to get to know each person individually.

We will work with you to navigate life’s major

changes – from new careers to retirement,

marriage or divorce, to planning for your family

or caring for aging parents. Whether you are

just embarking on your journey or starting to

see the benefits of a road well-traveled, contact

us today to map a course for your financial and

investment needs.

205 E. Main Street • Clinton, MS

For a free initial consultation,

please call 601-925-8099 or visit





Hometown MADISON • 41


to First Responders

Why did you decide to be a policeman?

I believe public service is a calling that comes from a higher power,

but I have always had the urge to help others and do my part to help

make the community a better and safer place to live and raise a family.

Working in law enforcement allows me to answer that calling and

make those contributions to this wonderful city.

How long have you been with the Madison Police


I have served on the Madison Police Department for eight years.

My current assignment is in the patrol division, where I serve as the

patrol commander. Before coming to Madison, I served four years as

an officer for the Gulfport Police Department.





Tell us about your family.

I am married to my best friend and soulmate, Jordan, the mother of

our two children. We have a beautiful, smart, and sassy seven-year-old

daughter and a very active and loving one-year-old son. I became a

blessed father in 2017 when our daughter, who was four at the time,

came into my life. My mother was born in Colombia, South America.

Her father, a physician who dreamt of practicing medicine in the

United States, moved to Mississippi when my mother was five years

old. My mother specialized in neonatal nursing as well as labor and

delivery. My paternal grandfather, who was a locomotive engineer,

was transferred to Mississippi when my father was twelve years old.

My father, who is currently serving as chief deputy for a nearby

agency, has been in law enforcement for thirty-six years. He also

served as a police advisor in Afghanistan for two years. My two

younger brothers and I have answered the call to serve the public

by pursuing careers in law enforcement. Both are currently assigned

to the investigation divisions of their agencies in South Mississippi.

My only sister pursued a career in education. She is a kindergarten

teacher in South Mississippi and was recently selected as teacher

of the year for her district.

What is the toughest thing you have experienced

in your job?

I would venture to say that for most in this profession, the toughest

thing to experience is the encounters we make with children who

are affected by crime.

Share some things you enjoy doing in your

spare time.

I enjoy spending my spare time making memories with my family.

I also enjoy traveling and the adventures of the great outdoors.

42 • JANUARY 2021

What are three things on your bucket list?

Becoming a father was at the top of my list. Next on my list

would be to visit my mother’s birth country of Colombia,

South America. Left on my list is to purchase some land where

I could build our dream house with a big porch, so when I

retire, I can sit in a rocking chair, drink coffee, enjoy nature,

and spend time with my family.

Who is someone you admire and why?

Of course, I admire my parents, but one person who has

impacted me the most is Earl “Pop” Parker. Pop was our

neighbor when I was a child, but he was more like a third

grandfather for my siblings and me. Pop taught me a lot about

life and happiness. He showed me how to work hard and have

a good work ethic. He showed me how to love with all of my

heart and be compassionate. Pop taught me how to be

independent by teaching me how to build things, grow food,

and think outside of the box to accomplish goals and tasks.

Pop showed me that spending time with family and making

memories with your loved ones will equate to happiness. Pop

was a simple man who stuck to the hierarchy of faith, family,

and friends. Pop and his wife, whom we called Nanny, always

said, “Fear of the unknown will keep you from being what you

could be.” That quote has stuck with me over the years.

If you could give one piece of advice to a young

person, what would it be?

One piece of advice I would give would be to do your best, try

hard, and never give up. Along with that, I would advise you to

never give in to peer pressure and learn from your mistakes.

What is your favorite thing about the city

of Madison?

I have lived in several places in Mississippi, but none compare

to Madison. I love the small-town feel that we maintain despite

the continued growth of the city. I could not imagine being a

part of any other community. As law enforcement officers of

Madison, we have overwhelming support from the community

and our elected officials. That support makes a tremendous

difference, especially in today’s world. Working for the police

department under the guidance of Chief Waldrop and Assistant

Chief Sanders has been a privilege, and serving this great city

is something I will always cherish. l

Hometown MADISON • 43





Mary Ann Kirby

44 • JANUARY 2021

The day I wrote this, George H.W.

Bush, 41st President of the United States,

had just been laid to rest. His death, at

94-years-old and mere months after

the death of his beloved wife of 73 years,

dominated the news cycle for days.

But while President Bush Sr. may have

been known, politically, for his foreign

policy, it was his inherent kindness and

deep compassion for others that stands

out as what will, likely, define his legacy.

I want to be like George.

energy pulses through humanity uplifting

everyone in its path! This chain reaction

serves a purpose that extends far beyond

just a “feel good” factor. In fact, to fully

understand the true impact of a compassionate

act, we need to understand the

science of kindness.

Yep, kindness involves science.

There’s scientific evidence regarding

the impact that it has on both the giver

and the receiver. Kindness stimulates

the production of serotonin in your

kindness and then emulating that same

kindness may be the most effective way

to guarantee its continuation. And

without a doubt, cultivating kind behavior

in our kids emboldens them to grow into

socially conscious adults who will carry

forth the kindness mission.

If nothing else, be like you want your

kids to turn out.

So in 1989, in his inaugural address,

the 41st President of the United States

said this: “We cannot hope only to leave

In a world where you can be anything, be kind . . .

The world, and humanity as a whole,

feels like it’s under siege these days.

Sickness, insults, protests, polar opposition,

partisanship, and the epic offensive

nature of society, overall, seems to prevail

as an overarching theme in the news and

on social media. And while I know I

should probably stay up-to-date on

current events, sometimes even the

headline is more than I can bear. I have

to limit the time I spend with media,

TV, and internet in particular, and select

only a few stories to read in full–usually

reserved for pop culture, cute animal

stories, and celebrity news.

I’ve become unapologetically illinformed.

It’s difficult, if not impossible, to

actually measure how a kind gesture fully

impacts society. What if it’s shared with

a stranger? Or on a whim? But each time

we release kindness out into the world,

no matter how small, a powerful surge of

brain–which calms you down and

creates feelings of happiness. And it not

only boosts serotonin in the giver and

the receiver, but everyone else that

witnesses it!

Kindness also causes the release of

endorphins and produces oxytocin which

promotes social bonding, exerts that

immediate calming effect, increases trust

and generosity, and strengthens the

immune system. It actually minimizes

stress because it has been determined

that compassionate people have 23% less

cortisol in their systems. Cortisol is the

infamous “stress hormone.”

With so many benefits, every act of

kindness is a healthy one. It’s a scientific


Most humans are born with a natural

sense of compassion–and while it varies

wildly from person to person, we’ve all

known people that just seem genetically

altruistic. But for the rest of us, observing

our children a bigger car, or a bigger

bank account. We must hope to give

them a sense of what it means to be a

loyal friend, a loving parent, a citizen

who leaves his home and his neighborhood

and his town better than he found

it. What do we want the men and women

who work with us to say when we are no

longer here? That we were more driven

to succeed than anyone around us? Or

that we stopped to ask if a sick child had

gotten better, and stayed a moment,

there, to trade a word of friendship.”

We possess a powerful ability to choose

kindness–and whether it’s random or

intentional, free or extravagant, the way

we choose to express it is as unique as

our fingerprints. And by adopting a

more compassionate mindset full of

intentional actions, we can make the

world a better place, one act of kindness

at a time. l

Hometown MADISON • 45

202 North College Street • Brandon, MS

To schedule a tour or to make reservations,

call 601.260.9277

The CHALKBOARD Madison Schools

Madison Central

Madison Central High School is proud to honor its teacher of the year,

Gina Gibson. Gibson has taught math at Madison Central for five years.

She has taught in several Mississippi districts and was an adjunct instructor

at Holmes Community College. Gibson received her bachelor’s in secondary

math education from Mississippi State University and holds a master’s

in secondary math education from William Carey University.

Madison Central High School is proud to honor its paraprofessional

of the year, Julie Entrekin. Entrekin has served as a data entry clerk

and MSIS contact for 15 years at Madison Central. She spent seven

years at Madison Avenue Elementary, giving her a total of 22 years

within the Madison County School District.

48 • JANUARY 2021


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For more information visit www.juniorleaguejumble.com

Hometown MADISON • 49

TheTime COIN

Camille Anding

It was in my childhood that I first learned

it from my parents, “Say thank-you.”

The circumstances were usually for compliments

or gifts. Without really understanding the significance

of the brief “thank you,” I soon caught on, and as I

grew older, added an assortment of “you’re welcomes”

that the really polite people use to accompany a


When I became a student of historical facts

somewhere around my fourth grade year, I learned

the details of a celebration – a holiday celebration

– that said a grateful “thank you.” As I watched Mother

add extra butter to the November stuffing and Daddy

layer the giant slabs of white meat from our turkey

onto a super-size tray, I could picture the Pilgrims and

Indians gathered around a long, food-laden table as

a thanksgiving prayer was offered.

Years later as I continued to broaden my education

into theology, I began a totally new study on thanksgiving.

God’s Word, which I declare to be totally inerrant,

states that we believers are to offer thanksgiving in

everything. What a bold declaration!

When I was younger that meant, “Thank you for

the sunshine, our food, my family, our pets, and all

the presents we get.” As I matured and studied God’s

Word and His faithfulness, I was able to enlarge my

thankfulness. IN everything, I was able to thank God

when the biscuits burned, when the transmission

began a “funny” clicking sound, when I lost my billfold

and then my keys, when prayers weren’t answered

the way I expected, when the moles treated my tulip

bulbs like appetizers, when unkind words were spoken

to me, when 2020 flipped our lifestyles upside down,

when worship services were moved to virtual meetings,

and when school schedules were placed on hold or


Obviously there’s no magic in chanting God’s

praises and thank yous, but it is a unique, blessed

response for believers. Why? With each thank you in

every difficult situation, I’m affirming my faith in God’s

sovereign control which empties a little more of me,

making room for more of my Peacemaker.

50 • JANUARY 2021



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Near Soulshine Pizza


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based test that meets travel requirements for

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Schedule appointment online: trustcarehealth.com

Hometown MADISON • 51

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Because there’s Merit

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Merit Health Medical Group makes it easier to see a primary care provider – quickly. Just call 844-MSMERIT. Most calls

will result in a same-day appointment with a physician or a nurse practitioner at one of our 15+ primary care locations.

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