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Hometown MADISON • 3
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4 • JANUARY 2021
6 • JANUARY 2021
FROM OUR PUBLISHER
is a big fan
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
There’s only one comforting answer to so
many unknowns. We don’t know, but God
does, and He’s in control!
IN THIS ISSUE
Reader Spotlight 9
PUBLISHER & EDITOR
Tahya A. Dobbs
Kevin W. Dobbs
Mary Ann Kirby
Messages from Heaven 12
Mrs. Mississippi America 18
Hometown Goodness 22
Renewed Restored Redeemed 25
Salute to First Responders 42
The Science of Kindness 44
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
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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.
8 • JANUARY 2021
Why did you decide to make Madison
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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Health Care, Mississippi’s
ONLY hospital designed for the care
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Hometown MADISON • 17
18 • JANUARY 2021
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
“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
• 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.
• 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
• 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
• 1½ cup plain Greek yogurt or
• 1 teaspoon sea salt
• ½ teaspoon freshly-cracked
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.
thinly- sliced green onions or chives,
extra shredded cheese, extra bacon,
Serve warm, garnished with
desired toppings. Refrigerate for
up to 3 days.
• 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
• 1 15 oz. can chili (pinto or kidney)
beans in mild sauce
• 2 28 oz. cans petite diced
• 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)
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.
• 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
• 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.
• 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
BEAUTY FROM THE ASHES
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.”
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.
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 email@example.com.
Hometown MADISON • 31
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
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.
King will reply,
‘Truly I tell
you did for the
least of these
sisters of Mine,
you did for Me.’”
To learn more about Project Hope
and how to donate, visit showerpower.ms
Hometown MADISON • 33
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
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,”
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
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
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
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
RENEWED RESTORED REDEEMED
At the TOP of His Game
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
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
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
205 E. Main Street • Clinton, MS
For a free initial consultation,
please call 601-925-8099 or visit
MASCAGNI WEALTH MANAGEMENT, INC. IS A REGISTERED
INVESTMENT ADVISER REGISTERED WITH THE UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION.
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.
MADISON 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
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
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
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,
The CHALKBOARD Madison Schools
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
SAVE THE DATE
Thursday, January 28
6-7p.m. | VIP HOUR
7-10p.m. | REVEAL PARTY
28 & 30
Saturday, January 30
6-8a.m. | PEEK & PURCHASE
8a.m.-12p.m. | GENERAL ADMISSION
1-3p.m. | HALF-PRICE SALE
Junior League Jumble
For more information visit www.juniorleaguejumble.com
Hometown MADISON • 49
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
2 LOCATIONS TO SERVE YOU
1067 Highland Colony Parkway, Suite G
In the former TrustCare Heart Clinic
OPENING IN JANUARY IN CLINTON
Cash or Credit Card Only
$165 per test
Quick In & Out
Rapid Swab - Same day results
PCR Swab - Next day results
Print Results from Patient Portal
5352 Lakeland Drive, Suite 1650
Near Soulshine Pizza
COVID TESTING FOR TRAVEL
TrustCare’s COVID-19 Testing Clinic offers a lab
based test that meets travel requirements for
ü Molecular Test
ü Next Day Results
ü CLIA Approved Lab (Hometown Diagnostics)
Schedule appointment online: trustcarehealth.com
Hometown MADISON • 51
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