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Hometown Clinton • 2



4 • NOVEMBER 2021


Here we are with the

last Hometown Clinton

issue of 2021.

It seems difficult to believe—mostly because both 2020 and 2021

have been a long, strange blur. But one thing is for sure; we endured

it together and have shared in an historical event that will mark our

lives for generations to come.

We’re honored to be able to highlight the stories of people from

right here in our area. All of us have something to contribute to the

world—and when we celebrate the wins of those around us, it creates

a greater sense of community and resilience.

This issue is full of such success stories. Be sure to read about

One Shred of Hope—a non-profit organization that uses document

shredding as a way for people with disabilities to work and make

money. The first-ever home that has been remodeled to be wheelchair

accessible through the One Shred of Hope program is right

here in Clinton.

November 20th is National Adoption Day. We highlight multiple

families and organizations that have “chosen” children by opening

their homes and hearts to adoption. Hearts of Compassion, an

orphan care and adoption ministry, was born right here at Colonial

Heights Baptist Church.

Clinton is incredibly special and full of amazing people and

stories. Thank you for allowing us to share them in such an impactful

way. We pray you have a safe and healthy holiday season. May God

continue to bless you all. Be well. See you next year!



Tahya Dobbs


Kevin Dobbs


Mary Ann Kirby


The Way We Were 8

Portrait of a Veteran’s Life 10

Clinton Author Thomas R. Ruffin 14

Cover Art Contest 18

Hometown Family 22

A Chosen Child 33

One Shred of Hope 42

The Time Coin 50



Brenda McCall



Caroline Hodges



Alisha Floyd


Kim Cochram


Daniel Thomas



Othel Anding



Jodi Jackson

...see you ....see around you around town. town.

www.facebook.com/hometownclintonmagazine. For subscription information visit www.htmags.com or contact us at info@HTMags.com / 601.706.4059 / 200 Felicity Street / Brandon, MS 39042

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

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

Hometown CLINTON • 5

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6 • NOVEMBER 2021

You can postpone

the vacation.

You can postpone

the vacation.

But don’t put of f your

But don’t put of f your

health care.

Many things have been postponed because of the pandemic,

Many things have been postponed because of the pandemic,

but your health care shouldn’t be delayed. Routine screenings

but and annual your health wellness care exams shouldn’t can help identify be delayed. health issues Routine in the screenings

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Make your health a priority and schedule an appointment today.




Hometown CLINTON • 7

Susan & Greg Belser

Leigh Ramsey

“Remember that marriage is

a promise. I would encourage

people to take that promise

seriously. It is intended to make

you dependent on God.” These

words of advice easily flowed

from Greg Belser’s heart as he

shared about his marriage of

nearly forty-two years.

Greg and Susan Belser grew

up together in Ingleside. Texas.

Greg was close friends with

Susan’s brother, Jeff. They were

on several sports teams together.

This friendship made it where

the two families knew each other

well. When Greg was a senior

and Susan was a sophomore,

they decided to start dating, but

the relationship was put on hold

when Greg left for college.

Greg graduated college and

the two decided to date again in

the summer of 1979. By the end

of that summer, Greg had

proposed. He worked as a

delivery person for a man who

re-upholstered furniture while

attending seminary and waiting

to marry his bride. After getting

married on December 29,1979,

he began working as a youth

minister at Northside Baptist

Church in Duncanville, Texas.

Mr. Belser finished his degree

with a master’s in divinity in 1983

and was hired as a youth minister

in Montgomery, Alabama. Soon

after moving, their family

experienced their first tragedy

since they had gotten married.

Susan’s brother Jeff passed away

unexpectedly in 1984.

Susan was a homemaker with

one daughter, Lindsay, at this

time. Greg proudly explained,

“Susan did a marvelous job as a

homemaker for our family.” The

Belser family spent many years in

Alabama. Their family grew with

the birth of two more daughters,

Ashley and Bethany.

In 2005, the Belser family

was asked to move to Morrison

Heights Baptist Church in Clinton.

Greg shared how he felt this was

the Lord’s will for their family.

Greg moved first. This allowed

their youngest daughter to finish

her senior year in the school she

had grown to love. Susan also

stayed behind to be with her

oldest daughter, who was getting

married in July of 2005.

Immediately following the

wedding, the family endured

their second major trial. Susan

was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Greg would come home weekly

to be with his wife, but their

church family helped carry

them through that season. They

discussed how much their church

families stepped in when their

actual family was far away.

Immediately after getting

married, they moved seven hours

away from their family. They

never lived near family and had to

rely on their church family for

support. “We were helped by

folks who were in the race with us,

but not biologically our family,”

Greg shared. “At every church we

have had people who would take

us under their wing,” Susan added.

In the summer of 2006, Susan

moved to Mississippi. When they

began the move, none of their

children were married and they

had no grandchildren. Now, after

sixteen-and-a-half years in

Mississippi, all of their daughters

are married and they have nine

grandchildren. As a matter of

8 • NOVEMBER 2021

“Selfishness is the

greatest threat to

all relationships.

Humble yourself.”

fact, though it was unplanned,

every daughter married a man

who serves in ministry.

When asked if they had any

other advice for married couples,

Mr. Belser added, “We went into

it with a strong commitment to

marriage. We never intended to

become a statistic.” He added,

“I often tell young couples to find

a couple that has been married

twenty or more years. Tell them,

‘You are going to take us out for a

steak dinner and tell us how your

marriage works.’ He jokingly

continued, “You can’t lose! You’ll

get a free steak dinner and great

advice.” He then added, “Selfishness

is the greatest threat to all

relationships. Humble yourself.

The secret sauce for our marriage

has been God and church.”

Hometown CLINTON • 9



LifeBethany Cole

In the Brookdale Senior Living Center, here in Clinton,

there is a collection of photographs in the main hall -

a grouping of photos featuring veterans who live in

the center. On the far end is a picture of one particular

veteran, John McNeece. His life, like many others on

the wall, is a unique ode to years lived in service to

his country, sacrifice for the greater good, and an

accumulation of adventurous memories.


His story began in Fulton, Mississippi,

where he was born in 1931, on what

he describes as a “red dirt road cotton

farm.” He spent his childhood and

adolescence in Fulton, as one of six

boys. In the 1940s, as young men

across the U.S. enlisted to serve in

WWII, McNeece decided he wanted

to follow suit. Four of his six brothers

served in WWII at one time. He

registered for the draft, however the

war concluded before he reached

18 years old. But when the Korean

War dawned in the 1950s, similarly

drawing American men into service

(including a brother of his) McNeece

made the decision to serve his country

in a different way than he initially

envisioned. In November of 1951,

he opted to join the Air Force.

He enlisted in Tupelo, beginning a

decades-long career of service.


Following initial enrollment,

McNeece was then transferred to

Louisiana, where he became a KP

(“kitchen patrol”), which, he laughingly

says, “Was not what I wanted to do.”

He transferred out to Wichita Falls,

Texas, where he began aircraft and

engine training. He went in to school

for about a year, learning everything

he could about the B36 engine, which

was, according to him, “his area.” He

followed his stint in Wichita Falls with

time at the (now former) Carswell Air

Force Base, where he invested time

learning about a range of engines,

and became a mechanic on the B36’s

carrying nuclear weapons.

The ensuing years of his career

encompassed working on airplanes

and missiles that carried “nukes.”

McNeece served in multiple areas

across the U.S. The high point,

according to him, was time he spent

in Blytheville, Ark. Around the 12-year

mark of his career, he says, “I went

back to school yet again” in Spokane,

Wash., to work on the SM-65E “Atlas-E”

missile (he was a technical sergeant

at this juncture). He stayed there for

about a year before re-entering school

to obtain training on the famous

Minuteman missile. He subsequently

moved to North Dakota for four years.

His years there, were, by his account,

extremely difficult due to the frigid

winters. As he says, “We worked one

night in -16 degree weather, trying to

dial locks without gloves on our fingers.

People froze to trucks.” He recalls

his time in North Dakota as his least

favorite of his entire career, as his

childhood in the deep south and

young adulthood in Texas had hardly

prepared him for such dire weather.

While the majority of McNeece’s

career kept him on U.S. soil, the latter

years eventually provided the

opportunity for overseas travel. After

moving up to the title of senior master

sergeant, which meant he covered

all missiles, he was assigned to the

Philippines. He says that the best

experience of his career, where he

truly felt as though all his accumulated

knowledge came to bear fruit, was

during those years. “We were in trouble

one time,” he said. “In one situation,

the test gear was rusted.” However,

McNeece solved the problem. “That

moment,” he said, “was my greatest

achievement.” It was during this time

that he was named the director of

missile maintenance for Southeast

Asia, a title he carried until he finished

his service.


While McNeece loved his career,

he candidly acknowledges the

challenges that accompanied it.

“It was difficult learning to live without

a wife while away,” he said. “That is

hard on a family.” However, when

reflecting on his family now, and how

his three children (two boys and a girl)

have grown up, he shows deep fatherly

pride. The military also provided him

with opportunities to make and keep

deep relationships with those he

served alongside; in recounting years

past, he named a particular superior,

Jerry Fall, who ultimately gave him

his master sergeant stripes, as one

of the most influential commanding

officers he had, and also, one of his

good friends with whom he kept up

throughout the years.

While any long-term occupation

provides one with an opportunity to

fully scrutinize the changes that might

need to be made, or the benefits and

drawbacks, McNeece says he has few

complaints. “The divisions between

enlisted and officer grades could have

changed,” he notes. “And maybe the

pay,” he adds ruefully, with a smile

and chuckle. Pay and divisions aside,

McNeece says he ultimately could

not have imagined anything different.

“In the early years of my career, I would

take a slot on a flight once or twice a

month, which would fly along the

U.S. and Canada border, with possible

orders to hit Russia. You got paid extra

if you went on those flights. It was a

daunting experience for an old farm

boy.” He paused, his eyes welling with

tears, “But I would do it all over again.”

10 • NOVEMBER 2021

”It was a daunting

experience for an

old farm boy.

But I would

do it all over


Hometown CLINTON • 11

12 • NOVEMBER 2021

CALL NOW: 601-401-3299




__________ LITTLE

Why did you decide to make Clinton

your home?

I made Clinton my home because it has a

great community and educational system.

How long have you lived in Clinton?

12 years

Tell us about your family.

I am very thankful to have a great family,

and we can always rely on each other.

What is your favorite memory of living

in Clinton?

My favorite memories of living in Clinton

are all the different sports and teams I have

gotten to be a part of.

Where are your three favorite places

to eat in Clinton?

1. Chick-fil-A

2. Wingstop

3. Margaritas Mexican Grill

What are some fun things to do in

Clinton on the weekends?

On the weekends, I enjoy riding bikes on

the Natchez Trace, bowling at Indian Lanes,

and working out at Planet Fitness.

Share some things you enjoy doing in

your spare time.

I enjoy playing piano, riding bikes, and

working out.

What are three things on your

bucket list?

1. Visit every state

2. Break some records in track & field

3. Go to college

Who is someone you admire and why?

I admire Kobe Bryant because of his

mindset to strive to do your best and to be

the best in whatever you do.

Where do you see yourself ten years

from now?

In 10 years I see myself being 100 times

better than I am today, with a great career

and many achievements.

What is your favorite childhood


My favorite childhood memory is when

I went to Universal Studios for spring


If you could give us one encouraging

quote, what would it be?

“The moment you give up, is the moment

you let someone else win.” - Kobe Bryant

What is your favorite thing about

Hometown Magazines?

I love that Hometown Magazines is

about places we’re familiar with and it

keeps you updated on what’s going on

in your community.

Hometown CLINTON • 13

14 • NOVEMBER 2021

“If you can’t feel something

from reading or writing it,

it’s not worth your while.

Poetry should spark

emotion in some way.”


Clinton Author


R. Ruffin

compared life as a poet

to selling peanuts on

the side of a highway.

“You meet a lot of

interesting people,

but you don’t make

any money!” he said.

Born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, the self-published author

moved to Clinton when he was four years old. He proudly

proclaims himself a Clinton native. Ruffin has five children

and has been married to his wife, Stacey, for almost 30 years.

Ruffin discovered his aptitude for writing while he was

in high school. “One day, I was writing in the study hall when

a teacher approached me and asked what I was writing,” he

said. “I was nervous to hand her the paper, but she read it.

When she was done, she said, ‘That’s good. Keep going!’”

This short encounter is what encouraged him to keep writing,

and he never stopped.

Thomas R. Ruffin has quite an impressive professional

background. Ruffin earned an Associate in Applied Science

from Hinds Community College, a Bachelor of Science in

psychology from Mississippi College, and a Master of Social

Science in administration of justice from Mississippi College.

He was also an adjunct professor at Mississippi College,

teaching in the department of history and political science.

Prior to becoming a professor, Ruffin served as a military

policeman in Germany. He was assigned to a drug

suppression team under the command of the criminal

investigation division. He primarily worked in a covert

capacity, gathering intelligence on the drug trafficking

organizations operating throughout Europe.

Apart from serving as an undercover investigator for

the armed forces, he also spent some time in the Federal

Bureau of Investigation. Upon completing his training at

the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia, Ruffin served as a

negotiator on the crisis negotiation team. Following Ruffin’s

military and FBI career, he worked at the Clinton Police

Department as a patrol officer, lieutenant detective, and

special operations group commander. He medically retired

from the Clinton PD in 2007, after being diagnosed with

Parkinson’s disease in October of 2001.

Hometown CLINTON • 15

“One night while on shift at the police department,

I ran into Vicki Waters. She was a friend,” said Ruffin.

Waters was a school teacher in Clinton. At the time,

she was married to the local artistic legend, Wyatt Waters.

“I shared a few of my poems with her, and I asked for her

academic opinion,” he explained. A couple of months

later, Waters showed back up at the police department

with suggestions and notes. “There were red markings

all over the poems. I thought this meant she did not

like them very much,” Ruffin said jokingly. “Turns

out, she loved them!” Waters encouraged Ruffin to

publish, so he did.

His first book, On the Weeping Floor, was

self-published by PublishAmerica in 2005. Ruffin

has written and self-published eight books since

then. They are available on Amazon. When asked what

inspires him to write, Ruffin replied, “Real life. When life

inspires me or I feel like I have something I need to say,

I write it down.” According to Ruffin, about 80 percent

of his poems are inspired by real people or true-life events.

“I take the truth, then I add creativity to it,” he said,

explaining his creative process.

Jackson Free Press described Thomas R. Ruffin as,

“a working man’s poet,” adding, “this man writes what he has

lived.” In Touch Television described him as, “in touch with

the soul of the masses,” and, “a master of human expression.”

Thomas doesn’t look at the “stereotypical” poets as role

models. “I like to read headlining poets on occasion, but the

obscure poets are better writers in my opinion,” he explained.

“If you can’t feel something from reading or writing it, it’s not

worth your while. Poetry should spark emotion in some way.”

Ruffin writes for pure enjoyment. “Some people exercise

for stress relief, while others watch television or sleep.

Everyone has a different outlet. My stress relief is writing.

16 • NOVEMBER 2021

It gets things out of me that need to come out,”

he said. When asked what kind of advice he

would give other writers, Ruffin replied, “Write

what you want to write. Success is not guaranteed,

so write for the love of it. Don’t write what you

don’t think people want to hear. If it’s controversial,

write it anyway.”

When asked how Parkinson’s disease affects

his writing, Ruffin replied by saying, “It makes

me more ambitious.” He added, “I am in a hurry

to get things done, and I care less about what

people think.”

Ruffin has attempted to venture into other

forms of writing, but he found that his passion

lies with poetry. “I just feel like I can’t quite get

there,” he explained, referring to his efforts in

writing a novel. “With poetry, I can see the end

of my story. That is more challenging when trying

to compose an entire book.” While it may be a

challenge to see the end of a story when composing

a novel, Ruffin shared a similar problem with

poetry. “You have to tell a story with a small

number of words. Novelists get 350 pages to

share their story, while I only get a few lines,”

said Ruffin.

Ruffin is currently working on his 10th volume of poems. The collection

will be called The Merciful, and it will launch on February 22, 2022.

The book release will be accompanied by a launch party. Details will

be announced on his website, www.thomasruffin.com, at a later date.

Hometown CLINTON • 17

Cover Art Contest

For the 2021 holiday issue of

Hometown Clinton Magazine, we asked for

submissions of Christmas-themed art from

junior and high school art students throughout

Clinton. We want to encourage the artistic

ability in the city’s brightest young artists!

We were thrilled to receive dozens of entries,

with the best being featured here.

Congratulations to

Evie Maynard, Sumner Hill

Junior High School 9th grader,

for being chosen as our

grand prize winner!

CCA - Alex Toth - 9th

CCA - Haile Kosek - 9th

CCA - Ashton Adams - 9th

CCA - Jamaya Lofton - 9th



CCA - Marli Noone - 9th

CCA - Paris Brooks - 9th

18 • NOVEMBER 2021

CCA - Wilson Yi - 9th

CCA - Zion Hudson - 9th

CCA - Brian Wood - 9th CCA - Connor Purvis - 9th CCA - Cooper Loftin - 9th CCA - Duke Collins - 9th

CCA - Jordyn McGee - 9th CCA - Josiah Clemons - 9th CCA - Karmen Manuel - 9th CCA - Marcus Catchings - 9th

CCA - River Curtis - 9th CCA - Tiffany Wilson - 9th CCA - Ty Goings - 9th CCA - Walkers Lyles - 9th

Sumner Hill - Evie Maynard - 9th Sumner Hill - Kyla Keir - 9th Sumner Hill - Makayla Speed - 9th

Hometown CLINTON • 19

20 • NOVEMBER 2021

Best wishes for a wonderful holiday season!

Hometown CLINTON • 21

22 • NOVEMBER 2021

PHOTO: Heather Sullivan

The Nutts

Tell us about your family.

Jonathan (33) Works at Mississippi College as assistant dean

of students. Graduated from MC with a BSBA in Marketing and

Master of Science in Higher Education Administration. Currently

enrolled in the EdD in Higher Education Administration at

Southern Miss. Hobbies: Relaxing and hanging out with family

when time allows.

Anna (33) Owns and runs James & Leigh which is a women’s

clothing and accessories boutique, now fully online. Had a

storefront in Olde Towne Clinton for almost 8 years. Graduated

from MC in 2010 with a BSBA in Marketing. Hobbies include

watching movies and tv shows when we have the time.

Ellie (6) First grader at Clinton Park Elementary in Mrs. Rone’s

class. Loves to do anything arts and crafts related; likes to play with

Barbies, spending time with cousins and watch her tablet

whenever mom and dad allow.

Evie (3) Pre-School at First Baptist Church Clinton in Mrs. Kim’s

class. Loves to do anything big sister is doing, playing dress-up,

spending time with her cousins and watching her tablet whenever

mom and dad allow.

How did you meet and how long have you been married.

We met in 9th grade at Sumner Hill Jr. High School in 2003.

We started dating in March of 2003 and we’ve been together

ever since.

Do you allow time to be with your spouse for a date night?

Whenever we can. We both like to eat out and do something

simple like go to Target without the kids. We are lucky enough to

have both sets of grandparents living in Clinton, so they’re usually

willing to babysit for us!

What brings you the greatest joy as a parent?

Jonathan Hugs, kisses and smiles from either one of my girls.

Anna Spending Saturdays with our girls now that we no longer

have a storefront. I often had to work on Saturdays, keeping me

away from the kids. So we enjoy spending time together now!

What is your discipline philosophy?

We encourage them to be kind (especially to one another) and to

share, and when they don’t do that, they typically will have a time

out or lose privileges. But overall, our girls are very well behaved,

and we feel very lucky for that. When they do get in trouble, it’s

often for not cleaning up. Neither one of them are good at cleaning

up and they hate having to do it!

Hometown CLINTON • 23

What’s a quick go to meal that isn’t fast food?

And who does the cooking?

Spaghetti or some kind of soup or chili. Both of us enjoy cooking so

we take turns. Neither of us enjoy cleaning up though.

How long has Clinton been your home?

Anna I was born in Jackson and lived in Clinton for all of my life.

We live in the same neighborhood as my parents (which is the house

I grew up in) and my grandparents lived in the neighborhood as well.

After my grandparents both passed away, one of our best friends

bought their house and remodeled it.

Jonathan My family moved to Clinton in 1996 when I was 8 years

old. I have lived in Clinton ever since. My parents actually moved

away for ten years, but they have retired and moved back to Clinton.

What are some of your favorite things about Clinton?

We love the family feel of Clinton, not only because it is where we

grew up, but because we know many people that grew up here and

have chosen to raise families here. We also know many people who

came to Clinton to attend MC and decided to stay in our community.

We also love the school system. We are both products of the Clinton

public school district and believe very strongly in our public school

system. We are very proud to be sending our kids to Clinton schools.

Not only do the schools strive for excellence, but the teachers care

about students and are passionate about their work.We also love that

Mississippi College is here. Both of us attended MC and Jonathan

has worked at MC for over 9 years. MC is a home away from home

for us and our girls who love being on campus and love interacting

with college students. Clinton is a better place because MC is here.

How do you spend your summer breaks?

We try and travel some during the summer, typically to the beach

at least once. And we also visit family (on Jonathan’s side) in July

every year. We also enjoy swimming at Gigi and Pops’ house

(Anna’s parents)

What drives you to have the job that you have?

And what do you do for a living?

Jonathan I work at Mississippi College, and I am the assistant

dean of students in the division of student experience. I love working

with college students because college is such a huge time of development

for young people. My work entails a lot of the things that

happen outside of the classroom which help complete the college

experience for so many students. I’m very passionate about what

I do and see myself working in higher education long term. This is

one of the reasons I am pursuing a doctorate in higher education

administration at the University of Southern Mississippi.

Anna I’ve always loved clothing and shopping, so we decided that

I could turn it into a business and help other people shop for

themselves too! That’s how James & Leigh started. I love keeping up

with trends and making them relatable for people to wear. I also love

the feeling of connecting with people through clothing and giving

them confidence in what they wear.

We love our neighborhood as well. We live in a small, older neighborhood

in the middle of town called Lakeview Heights. We have

seasonal get-togethers and have a group text message now where

people help keep track of each other’s pets, etc. This kind of community

cannot be found everywhere.

What accomplishments make you proud during your

time living in Clinton?

I think the work of Main Street Clinton has brought so much to

our community. This organization works to better the Olde Towne

and Clinton Boulevard districts in our community through events,

beatification, and economic development. Their events like Olde

Towne markets help make our community an attractive place for

people of all ages to live. We also appreciate the upgrades to our

city parks like Lion’s Club now that we have young children who

beg to go to the caterpillar park, often daily.


What’s your favorite thing to do as a family?

Ellie & Evie Go to Disney World

What your favorite restaurant?

Ellie Chick-Fil-A Evie Sonic

What’s your favorite TV show?

Ellie & Evie Sofia the First

24 • NOVEMBER 2021

Hometown CLINTON • 25

26 • NOVEMBER 2021

Hometown CLINTON • 27


to First Responders

Why did you decide to be a fireman?

I have always enjoyed helping people and serving others.

Shortly after high school, I joined a volunteer fire department,

which allowed me to see how rewarding the job of a fireman is.





How long have you been with the Clinton Fire Department?

I began my career as a fireman in 2011. Shortly after, in 2013,

I came to Clinton.

Tell us about your family.

I married my high school sweetheart Kristen, who also works here

in Clinton. We have two children, Jax (3) and Annelise (3 months).

Raymond has been home for us for almost ten years now.

What is the toughest thing you have experienced in your job?

Early in my career I experienced losing three children in one week.

Any call that involves children is always tough.

Share some things you enjoy doing in your spare time.

I own a small business that requires a good deal of my time when

I’m not at the fire station. When I am home, I just enjoy getting to

spend time with my family and working outside on our property.

We recently got a camper and are looking forward to taking trips and

making memories as a family.

What are three things on your bucket list?

I would love to be able to take a few weeks and go out west.

Camping, hiking, and hunting are all things that I hope to be able

to do one day. Greece is another place I’ve always thought about

visiting and exploring. And I want to be able to watch my children

grow and be able to be a positive influence on them.

Who is someone you admire and why?

My dad he gave me the strong work ethic that I have today.

I hope to pass this along to my kids.

If you could give one piece of advice to a young person,

what would it be?

When considering a career, it is not always about the money or

the prestige. Enjoying what you do and fulfilling your calling is truly

rewarding. Enjoy life and appreciate the small things. We aren’t

always guaranteed tomorrow, so enjoy what you do and do it to

Taylor Carter of Brookhaven your best ability. is

headed to the University of Southern

Mississippi for a degree in biology Rodric McClain got out of the car to take a photo

and an eventual career as a

of his best friend, Tia Denise Cook of Jackson.


28 • NOVEMBER 2021

What is your favorite

thing about Clinton?

The people. Clinton residents

always go above and beyond to

support us and each other.

What is your favorite thing

about Hometown Magazines?

They bring us all together by

introducing key people in our


Hometown CLINTON • 29
















30 • NOVEMBER 2021


As difficult as the past year has been, what are

you most thankful for this holiday season?









Abigail Thomas This past year has been

hard because so many people can’t see their loved ones.

I am thankful I get to see my family and spend time with

them throughout the holiday season. I could not ask for

a better family to spend time with this season.

Andreanna Foster I’m most thankful for

being able to spend quality time with my family. I’m also

thankful to have the different events that were prevented

due to the pandemic, for example the school carnival

that’s coming up in October. Finally, I am thankful to have

the opportunity to join the different social clubs such as

student council and peer leadership committee.

Anna Smith I am very thankful that this year

we can gather with family and do things we haven’t been

able to do for a while. Family is very important to me and

I’m so happy that things are coming closer and closer to

normal and that we can be together for special times and

make good memories.

Asia Davenport Hands down, I am the

most thankful this holiday season for life. The past year

has made me appreciate the little and big things in life.

I know for a fact that I’m not the only person that has

survived this past year and is more thankful for life than

ever before.

Caleb Nettles I am thankful that all my

family members have been safe from COVID-19 and other

dangers in this world. I am also thankful for my friends

keeping in touch with me even though we hadn’t seen

each other over the whole entire lockdown and summer.

Grayson Fortenberry I am very

thankful that we have somehow gotten through this

terrible pandemic. I am most thankful this holiday season

for my family and everyone who has supported me.

It means the world to me to have an amazing supporting

cast that is cheering me on.

James Farr This past year has been pretty

hard on many people. Thankfully I have not been affected

badly by COVID-19. The thing that I am most thankful for

this holiday season is that I will be showing in the state

fair cattle show.

Jerusha Dasary I am very thankful for

the fully devoted workers in our community. In spite of

the circumstances, they come committed to do their

very best every day. From teachers who encourage us,

to builders who work through grime and sweat, every

person plays an important role in shaping our community.








Jordan Butler I am most thankful for

moments of joy I have been able to experience.

Throughout the last year, which was extremely difficult,

I’ve been continuously reminded that there is a reason to

have hope. Those moments of happiness are what keep

me going, and they are what I’m beyond grateful for this

holiday season.

Kaedyn Wilson I am most thankful this

holiday season for the togetherness of the community.

Together we are better than ever. The community has

proved that to be true because, even through a pandemic,

we still managed to keep the feeling of togetherness alive

through hard times.

Mati Claire Miley This holiday season

I’m thankful for being able to gather with my friends

and family. It’s such a small thing but it makes all the


Nitika Kumari Because I was virtual last

year, I couldn’t participate in classes physically. This year

I am thankful for school reopening physically, despite the

COVID cases still increasing steadily.

Riley Burnside Even though the past year

has been rough, I’m really thankful for all that my parents

have provided for my siblings and me. Sometimes I think

we can forget about how much we are blessed and for

how much stuff we have. I am so very thankful for all of

my friends and family because I know that if I ever need

someone to talk to, I can always turn to them.

Sumaiya Alalili I’m thankful to be able to be

near my peers again. I’m thankful to be able to meet my

teachers this year, and I’m thankful to be participating in

school/school activities. Last year was hard, but this year

proves that there are some benefits from the effects of

hardships! Now, I’m sure not to take things for granted

and appreciate the little things that I have in life, because

you never know life’s schedule.

Wellsley Wilkinson As challenging as the

past year has been, I am most thankful for the community.

Clinton has joined together, despite the social distancing

to make the most of our situation and create a feeling of


Hometown CLINTON • 31


with FBCC

Christmas Memorial Reflection December 3

Christmas for Clinton December 12

Cafe Noel December 19

Christmas by Candlelight December 24



CLINTON, MS | 601.924.6705


32 • NOVEMBER 2021

National Adoption Day is November 20, 2021.

It was initially started to raise awareness of the

children waiting to be adopted in the United States–

120,000 this year alone. We’re honored to have

met local families from all across the metro who

opened their hearts and homes to adoption.

We celebrate the families that have been created

and the children chosen–not of your flesh, nor of

your bone, but still miraculously your very own.

Hometown CLINTON • 33

34 • NOVEMBER 2021


Mistie Desper


“We knew that there were children out there

that needed homes and we felt God calling

us to adopt a child that needed one,”

said Denise Coleman.

Denise and husband, Stephen, found

their way to each other while continuing

their education at the University of Southern

Mississippi. Marrying in December 2007,

they began their lives together in Clinton.

As they began careers, the desire to have a

family was soon at the forefront of their

minds and hearts. Denise, a second-grade

special education teacher at Gary Road

Elementary, and already having a love of

children, knew in her heart that she wanted

to share that love with a precious child.

The couple admits that they both felt

God “had called them” to be a beacon for

children in the area who needed loving,

nurturing homes. The Colemans leaned on

their faith and trusted the path the Lord had

set out before them as they eagerly opened

their home to foster children.

On Mother’s Day weekend in 2015,

Stephen and Denise received the call from

Southern Christian Services to take in a

foster. Little did they know that this young

foster, a bouncing 16-month-old little boy,

would change their lives forever.

What initially was to be a temporary

placement for the summer turned into four

years. On March 26, 2019, Jaxson legally

became their adopted son. He was part of a

large adoption ceremony that took place at

the Hinds County Courthouse. The couple

admitted to having a variety of emotions over

Jaxson’s adoption. Being elated and eager to

make it official, they also had a “sense of relief”

in knowing now that he would be theirs

forever. Denise added, “We simply wanted

him to grow up being loved, cared for, and

knowing that he would be ok and not have to

worry about whether or not he was going to

have to leave our home or get to stay was a

great relief. We also felt sadness because we

knew that that ended a chapter in his life,

a life he had before he came to us.” Stephen

added, “The most rewarding part about

adopting has been knowing that we had

a part in the story of Jaxson’s life.”

Becoming new parents is a time of

unexplainable bliss but also uncertainty and

sometimes fear. Stephen said, “I had to learn

to think of Jaxson first and put his needs

before my own. Being able to watch him grow

on a daily basis and absorb new things all the

time has been an amazing thing to watch.”

Denise added, “Parenting itself can be

tough and challenging, but that’s true for any

parents who have children.” Both Denise and

Stephen were born deaf and wear cochlear

implant processors. She said, “Our hearing

impairments have not presented any challenges

in raising a child.” The Colemans are showing

Jaxson true determination, dedication, and

positivity each day. Denise added, “The thing

he says all the time is ‘I’ve got this.’”

Jaxson attends Northside Elementary,

has three dogs who just happen to be adopted

also, and “loves to go to church with his family

at First Baptist of Clinton.” He loves pizza,

his friends, Minecraft, and sports. He said,

“I love to go out the eat with my family, have

family movie nights, go to church with my

mom and dad, and play Beyblades with my


Denise added, “He has truly blessed us

with his smile, his big heart for others, his silly

sense of humor, his determination to be the

best person he can be. He has blessed us so

much in teaching us how to be godly parents

just as we are teaching him to be a servant for

the Lord.”

Fostering and adopting can be an emotional

roller coaster. For those considering it, Denise

offered, “The advice we would give is to be

patient and have faith in God to be in control

of your adoption journey.” She also adds to

be an advocate for your child when working

through the process making sure that he or

she is really “heard.” She urges, “Make time

to spend together as a family and make

memories, even if you don’t know what will

happen, if the child will leave or get to stay

and be adopted. Those memories are what

you will have together in the long run. Don’t

be afraid to also allow the child to know God.

Take your child to church, let them know

God, and ultimately lead them to have a real

relationship with God because God loves

that precious child too.”

Hometown CLINTON • 35

Jerry Welch

We never know the journey God has for us. We may think

we do, but we don’t. The Bible says His ways are higher than

our ways, and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts

(Isaiah 55:8-9). I’m glad they are. I’m glad He has better plans

than I do.

Our adoption journey began with a pull, an emotional tug

at the heart. Adoption is a good idea. A nice thing for someone

to do. Little did we know God was beginning a process

of calling us to adopt. Three times He called us to adopt.

Three times we obeyed.

We considered adopting again. We prayed about it. We

were open, and our “yes” was on the table. But we sensed

that God was moving slowly. So, we waited.

Meanwhile, God was calling someone else to adopt. He

placed the call on the heart of a child who shared that call

with her family. They answered with a “yes,” but adoption

is expensive. After years of trying, they hit what seemed to be

the final wall. In a tearful post, the mom shared the greatest

burden of her heart. They would have to abandon the adoption

process for lack of funding. They just kept hitting dead ends.

But thankfully, a friend read her post. A friend from church

who had been praying about how God wanted her family

to invest in the kingdom of God. A friend who had not been

called to adopt, but who suddenly felt the undeniable call

to help.

No one whom God calls to adopt should have to abandon

that call for lack of funds, not when the family of God can help.

That’s when it happened. A phone call between two women,

my wife and the woman who read the post, connected

their hearts’ desire to do something about adoption– first and

foremost to do something to help this family to continue

their journey.

What happened next was the birth of an organization

called Hearts of Compassion, the orphan care and adoption

ministry of Colonial Heights Baptist Church. The goal was to

help bring awareness to the plight of 147 million orphans

around the world and to help fund adoptions by Christian

families. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the hope of the world.

It’s not enough that children be adopted into earthly families,

we long for them to be adopted into God’s family as well.

How do you take the gospel to all nations? Sometimes,

one child at a time.

The two women, with the help of their church family, were

able to help the tearful mom at the end of her rope. That

family did adopt a little girl from China. We call her our first

Hearts of Compassion kid. That was almost eleven years ago.

But one child was not enough. God began to stir the heart

of a congregation to get behind the idea of adoption. Some

were called to adopt. Others were called to help families

adopt. Through the help of ministry partner, Lifesong for

Orphans, the Hearts of Compassion team found like-minded

believers who provided exceptional administrative help to

36 • NOVEMBER 2021

establish the Hearts of Compassion Adoption

Fund. Through the partnership with Lifesong,

Hearts of Compassion is able to offer matching

grants and no-interest loans to approved families

who are in the process of adoption.

But how do you raise enough money to

help provide funding for years to come? How

do you build something sustainable? The

Hearts of Compassion team tried several

avenues at first, including partnerships with

local businesses who would offer a portion of

their proceeds to Hearts of Compassion. The

first partner, Sweet Tree Yogurt, went so far as

to open their doors one Sunday afternoon

and gave 100% of their proceeds to the

adoption fund. Church members and friends

came out in droves.

I’m not really sure who came up with the

idea of hosting a run, but in the fall of 2011,

we hosted the first Hearts of Compassion 5k

and 1-mile Fun Run. We had no idea what we

were doing. We recruited a few sponsors and

rallied the church to run for adoption. The

Lord blessed, people came, and we raised

enough money to keep our little fund moving.

We could do our part to help make sure a few

more families could afford to adopt.

This year the Hearts of Compassion 5K will

celebrate its 10th anniversary. It’s hard to

believe all that we have seen. One year we

combined our race with the church’s fall festival.

One year we hosted a silent auction outside in

the rain. One year, it was so cold and rainy we

were sure no one would show up. That year, to

our great surprise, became our highest grossing

and most well-attended event up until that

time. God can do amazing things when we

answer His call and follow Him in this journey!

In our first race event, we were thrilled to

raise close to $10,000. A few years later, we

were blown away when we doubled that.

Now, we typically raise over seven times that

much through each event. In the last 10 years,

Hearts of Compassion has raised over $430,000.

We expect to exceed the $500,000 mark with

this year’s event. Through matching grants

and additional fundraising, the adoption fund

has mobilized over $754,000 for adoption.

But this really isn’t about money. Yes, the

Hearts of Compassion team works tirelessly to

raise money for adoptions. Yes, our stated

goal is that no Christian family should ever

have to abandon the call to adopt due to a

lack of funds. But this ministry is ultimately

about the children. It’s about impacting the

lives of children with forever families and the

truth of the gospel. It’s about going after the

“least of these” for the glory of God.

Because of His work through our meager

efforts, more than 115 children have been

adopted or are in the process of being adopted

into gospel-centered homes.

It began with an undeniable desire to help

one specific family fulfill God’s call on their

lives. A call to help one beautiful little girl in

China find the love of a mom, dad, sister,

brothers, and church family. A call to make

sure that one beautiful girl grew up in a home

where she heard the gospel and eventually

responded to God’s call to salvation.

We didn’t realize that saying “yes” to this

call would open the door to God’s blessings

on so many more kids and adoptive families.

We didn’t realize the work God would do in us

along the way. We had no idea the people He

was calling to labor along with us in the journey.

We didn’t know the change it would make in

us as a church family.

As God has given more and more of us a

heart for adoption, our church has begun to look

a little more like the Revelation 7 picture of

Heaven. Come and visit us, and you’ll find kids

of all races and ethnicities running through

the halls. You’ll see a church that welcomes

people from all nations, tongues, and tribes.

Hearts of Compassion is about God changing

us. He graciously allowed us the opportunity

to be made better through the lives of children

from around the world and by the love of moms

and dads who would do anything to bring them

home. Hearts of Compassion reminds us of the

Father’s love for us, His children. He wasn’t

willing to leave us orphaned and destitute, helpless

in our sin. Instead, He chose to leave the

glory of Heaven through the birth of His Son, to

walk among us, to share the truth with us, and

to pay the ultimate price for us that we might

be called His sons and daughters.

Join us for the 10th Annual Hearts of Compassion

5K, 1-mile fun run, and silent auction on

Saturday, November 13. You too can heed the

call of God to be a part of helping take the

gospel to the nations through impacting the

life of one child at a time. You too can be a

part of the Hearts of Compassion legacy.

Visit www.heartsofcompassion.life

• Donate to the silent auction

• Sponsor the race

• Run the race (in person or virtual)

• Get the gear

Hometown CLINTON • 37

38 • NOVEMBER 2021

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

• 2 pounds (approximately

3 large) sweet potatoes, peeled

and cut into ½ - inch pieces

• 2 Tbsp. olive oil

• ¾ tsp. fine sea salt (kosher salt;

use less if using table salt)

• ¼ tsp. freshly cracked pepper

• ½ tsp. ground chili powder

• ½ tsp. paprika

• ½ tsp. ground cumin

• ½ tsp. garlic powder

Preheat oven to 425º. Peel and cube

the sweet potatoes into ½ inch

pieces. Place sweet potato pieces

on your largest sheet pan and add

the olive oil, salt,

pepper, chili




and garlic

powder on

top. Toss to

coat all the


potatoes and

then spread out

to arrange in an even layer.

Flip every 10-15 minutes

cooking for a total of

27-35 minutes.

Sweet Potato Casserole

• Cooking spray

• 4 cups large sweet potatoes,

peeled and cubed

• ½ cup packed brown sugar

• 8 Tbsp. (1 stick) butter, melted

• 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

• ½ cup milk


• 1 cup packed dark brown sugar

• ½ cup all-purpose flour

• 4 Tbsp. butter, melted

• 1 cup chopped pecans

• 2½ cups mini marshmallows

Preheat oven to 350° and grease a

9x13 baking dish with cooking

spray. Place sweet potatoes in a large

pot and cover with water. Bring to a

boil, then reduce heat and simmer

until the sweet potatoes are tender

(about 15 minutes). Drain and let

cool, then transfer to a large bowl.

Mix together sweet potatoes, sugar,

butter, vanilla, milk, eggs, and salt

until smooth. Pour into prepared

dish. In a separate bowl, stir together

sugar, flour, and butter until it

clumps. Stir in pecans, then spread

evenly over potatoes. Top with

marshmallows. Bake until cooked

through and golden, about

30 minutes.

Sweet Potato Bake

• 4-5 sweet potatoes

(finely sliced, skin on)

• 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

• 2 garlic cloves, finely minced

• 2 Tbsp. olive oil, plus a little extra

• ¾ tsp. kosher salt

• ¼ tsp. black pepper

• 1 Tbsp. rosemary leaves,

finely chopped, plus more for

garnish / serving

Preheat oven to 350º. Brush skillet

base and sides with a little olive oil.

Slice potatoes about ¼ inch thick.

A mandoline will make short work

of this. Place in large bowl, add butter

plus 1 Tbsp. olive oil, rosemary, salt

and pepper. Toss well with hands,

separating the slices so they are all

coated with oil. Layer potato in

skillet in a spiral/circular pattern,

overlapping the slices. Cover with

foil, bake 30 minutes until potato is

quite soft (almost fully cooked).

Remove from oven, turn up to 430°.

Remove foil, brush potato with

remaining 1 Tbsp. oil. Bake

uncovered for 20 minutes until

tops are golden and slightly crisp,

and potato is cooked through

(check with a knife or skewer).

Scatter with more rosemary leaves,

a whole sprig of rosemary and pinch

of sea salt flakes if desired. Serve

immediately! Sweet potato loses

crispiness as it cools.

Cajun Tots

• 2 sweet potatoes, peeled

• ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan

• ¼ cup cornstarch

• 1½ tsp. Cajun seasoning

• Kosher salt

• Freshly ground black pepper

Dipping Sauce

• ⅓ cup mayonnaise

• 2 Tbsp. honey mustard

• 1 tsp. hot sauce

Place sweet potatoes in a large pot

and add enough water to completely

cover potatoes. Bring to a boil over

high heat. Boil until almost tender,

but a knife still meets a little

resistance, about 8 minutes. Drain

and let cool. Preheat oven to 400°

and grease a large baking sheet with

cooking spray. When potatoes are

cool enough to handle, grate on the

large holes of a cheese grater. Add

grated potatoes, parmesan, cornstarch,

and cajun seasoning to a large

bowl. Season with salt and pepper

and stir to combine well. Scoop out a

heaping tablespoon sized amount

and squeeze together with your

hands and form into a tater tot shape.

Place on prepared baking sheet and

repeat with remaining sweet potatoes.

Bake until crispy and bottoms have

darkened, flipping halfway through,

about 40 minutes. Meanwhile, make

sauce: Combine mayonnaise, honey

mustard, and hot sauce in a small

bowl. Add more honey mustard or

hot sauce to taste. Serve tater tots hot

with dipping sauce.

Sweet Potato Fritters

• 1 medium size sweet potato,

peeled and grated

• 3 eggs

• 1½ Tbsp. chives, chopped

• Sea salt and freshly ground pepper,

to taste

• 1 ripe avocado

• 2 Tbsp. olive oil

• Cherry tomatoes (optional)

Peel and grate potato using a food

processor or box grater, sprinkle

potatoes with sea salt, toss and place

in a paper towel lined colander.

Whisk 1 egg, a pinch of sea salt, a few

turns of freshly ground pepper and

one tablespoon chives together.

Mash avocado with a fork and place

in a small bowl, and slice tomatoes

(if using). Use a paper towel to

squeeze out any extra moisture from

potatoes. Place in a bowl and stir in

egg mixture. Heat a medium sized

pan on med/high heat for two

minutes, add olive oil, covering entire

bottom of pan. Drop potatoes by two

large spoonfuls into pan, using the

back of the spoon to spread fritters

into a 4-5” circles (will make two

fritters). Turn down heat if needed

and cook first side for 2-3 minutes or

until golden and crispy; carefully flip

and cook second side. When second

side is done, place fritters on plates.

Add more oil to pan if needed and

carefully crack two eggs into pan.

While eggs cook, spread avocado

mash onto fritters, leaving edges

exposed When eggs are cooked to

your liking, remove with spatula and

place on fritters. Season with more

salt and pepper if desired, garnish

with chives and tomatoes, serve!

Sweet Potato Pancakes

• 1¾ cup all-purpose flour

• 2 tsp. baking powder

• ½ tsp. baking soda

• 2 Tbsp. packed brown sugar

• 1 tsp. kosher salt

• 1 tsp. cinnamon

• ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg

• ¼ tsp. ground ginger

• 1¾ cup buttermilk

• 2 small sweet potatoes, roasted

and pureed until smooth

(about ¾ cup puree)

• 2 large eggs

• 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

• Butter, for cooking and serving

• Toasted pecans, for serving

• Maple syrup, for serving

In a large bowl, whisk together flour,

baking powder, baking soda, brown

sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and

ginger. In a separate bowl, whisk

together buttermilk and sweet potato

puree, then add eggs and vanilla.

Add wet ingredients to dry

ingredients and stir with a wooden

spoon until just combined. Melt

butter in a large nonstick skillet

or griddle over medium heat.

When butter is foamy, reduce heat

to medium-low and ladle a scant

½ cup pancake batter into skillet.

Cook until bubbles start to form in

batter and pancake is golden

underneath, about 3 minutes, then

flip and cook other side until golden,

another 3 minutes. Repeat with

remaining batter. Serve with more

butter, toasted pecans, and maple


Sweet Potato Salad

• 4 slices thick-cut bacon, cooked

• 3 large sweet potatoes peeled and

cut into chunks

• 1 cup thinly sliced celery hearts

• 1 cup thinly sliced green onions

Mustard Dressing

• 1 jalapeno pepper seeded

and minced

• 2 Tbsp. whole-grain mustard

• 2 garlic cloves minced

• 3 Tbsp. rice vinegar

• 3 Tbsp. olive oil

• ¼ tsp. kosher salt

• ⅛ tsp. black pepper

Bring a large bot of salted water to a

boil, then add the sweet potatoes.

Simmer just until fork tender, about

10 to 15 minutes depending upon

the size of your potato chunks. Drain,

gently and quickly rinse with cold

water, then set aside. If necessary,

cook the bacon according to one

of my easy methods listed below.

Once cool, crumble it into a large

bowl. Add the celery and green

onions. Prepare the mustard dressing:

In a small bowl or large measuring

cup, whisk together the jalapeno,

mustard, garlic, vinegar, olive oil, salt,

and pepper. Add the sweet potatoes

to the bowl with the bacon, drizzle

with the dressing, then toss gently to

combine. Taste and season with

additional salt/pepper as desired.

Serve warm, chilled, or at room


Hometown CLINTON • 39



Support our Small Businesses

40 • NOVEMBER 2021

SHOP Local

T & D Furniture

Swivel Rocker Recliner $199

42x42x16 console, available in different colors $269

Rick’s Pro Truck

Orca Walker Tote $199


14K Rose and White Gold Diamond Ring

1.11 carat center diamond, clarity E-VS2, 1.84 total carats

Hinged Bangle Bracelet

14K white gold, 100 diamonds, GVS2 color and clarity

1.27 total carats


Great Stocking Stuffer:

Platinum and Gold Membership Cards

Hometown CLINTON • 41

Lauren Compere maneuvers her power wheelchair with ease around

her well-appointed home in Clinton. Widened doorways, lowered

light switches and a roll-in shower all serve to make the home

accessible to Lauren, who was born with a body that doesn’t allow

her to move in this world the way most people do.

One Shred

of Hope

Susan Marquez

Once you choose hope,

anything is possible.

–Christopher Reeve

The home is set on a wooded lot on Wickstead Drive. The older house has

been made modern through the work of One Shred of Hope, who owns it.

“There are monetary limitations placed on people with disabilities regarding the

amount of money they can earn and assets they can own,” explains Lauren.

“These restrictions make it practically impossible to live independently.”

Lauren worked on the interior design of the home with Lorron Cottrell, an

interior design student at Mississippi College.

One Shred of Hope is an organization founded on the premise that individuals

and families affected by disabilities experience many difficulties, but those

difficulties can be overcome with the foundations of the Gospel of Jesus Christ

– its inherent truth, and its power over and through our lives.

The “movement of God,” as Lauren refers to it, serves individuals eighteen

and over with documented physical and/or intellectual disabilities, excluding

chemical dependency and severe mental illness. “The One Shred of Hope

movement is about creating both spiritual and physical freedom for families

affected by disabilities.”

The communities built by One Shred of Hope will not just be for people

affected by disabilities. “It is my dream that able-bodied, and persons affected

by disabilities can cohabitate,” says Lauren, who serves as the development

director for One Shred of Hope. The organization was the brainchild of

Joe Little, who was a colleague of Lauren’s at another non-profit for people

affected by disabilities. “Joe and I talked one day, and he told me about his

idea. I was thinking of something similar. With the Lord plus the idea, plus

a burning desire, One Shred of Hope was founded.”

PHOTO: Clinton Chamber of Commerce

42 • NOVEMBER 2021

PHOTOS: Lorron Cottrell

The non-profit organization uses document

shredding as a way for people with disabilities

to work and make money of their own. The

organization will pick up documents from

companies or individuals to shred, or they can

take their documents to be shredded to the

Clinton office. “That has allowed conversations

to be had,” says Lauren. “More often than not,

people add a little extra donation to the fee

we charge when they find out what we are

doing.” Other donations come from churches,

civic organizations, grants, and various other


Lauren lives in the first ever home that has

been remodeled to be wheelchair accessible

by One Shred of Hope. “The organization

purchased an older home in good condition

because it was cheaper,” she explains. “What

so many people don’t realize is that one in five

people are affected by disabilities, and people

affected by disabilities experience some of

the highest rates of homelessness. As a group,

people affected by disabilities are the largest

group to be unreached by the Gospel, due in

part to the lack of disability ministry and the

lack of understanding from churches and

church members.”

Lauren’s personality is so bubbly and

inviting that people can’t help but notice her

and get to know her. That has made getting

her message across easier. She also had the

platform of being Miss Wheelchair Mississippi

in 2015. Lauren has spoken at churches,

Rotary Clubs, and anywhere else she can get

people to listen to her message about One

Shred of Hope.

“I have seen problems that people with

disabilities face, and I knew something needed

to happen. We hope to acquire more land and

build two more accessible homes near this house,

creating a community where able bodied and

disabled people will both live. Our goal is to

create multiple communities in college towns

throughout Mississippi, and eventually,

around the country. The options are limitless!

The college partnerships we could establish

would give able-bodied students the opportunity

to work, volunteer and intern with our

neighbors affected by disabilities. We believe

college students who are passionate about the

medical field and/or ministry could gain

valuable experience from spending time in

these communities. Our neighbors with special

needs would have the opportunity to be

involved on the college campuses through

attending classes, working, attending events and

more. God’s house is full and complete when

people affected by disability are present.”

Lauren is a native of Madison and graduated

from Mississippi College. She is currently

working on her master’s in counseling at the

Reformed Theological Seminary in Clinton.

For more information, visit


Hometown CLINTON • 43

44 • NOVEMBER 2021

“A Home for Brad” organizers Deputy Dwayne Moak, LeeAnn Sanders,

Sheriff Randy Tucker, and Lt. Joey Butler with Deputy Brad Sullivan

as a social media campaign to build Brad a new home kicks off.


Back in November of 2020, our

sister publication, Hometown

Madison, published an in-depth

story about Brad Sullivan, the Madison

County sheriff deputy that sustained

life-threatening injuries while attempting to

arrest a kidnapping suspect east of Canton on

September 5, 2019. The events of that day left this single father

of two with two bullet wounds in his head. Thirty-two days later,

after being in a medically induced coma, Brad Sullivan was

awake and facing the uphill battle of rehabilitation and recovery.

As with most physical disabilities, the ongoing expenses associated

with an injury of this magnitude can often make prioritizing

a livable home fall way down on the to-do list. Brad suffers

paralysis to his left side and regularly uses a wheelchair. Brad

has retrofitted and engineered as much as he can on his own,

including his personal vehicle, but it’s not hard to imagine the

limitations that come with not having properly ADA compliant


Fast forward to 2021 and enter the Madison County Mississippi

Sheriff’s Department Benefit Association. This organization has

begun a fund-raising project with the goal of building a fully

compliant home for Brad and his family to spend the remainder

of their lives. Madison County Sheriff’s Deputies, Lt. Joey Butler

and Dwayne Moak are spearheading the “A Home for Brad”

project and hope to provide a special place for their former

co-worker and friend—a place that will accommodate his

special needs.

“Brad has a piece of land that we’re going to build on—so we’re

already that far along in the process,” stated Joey Butler. The

Home Builders Association of Jackson will be coordinating the

construction of the home through Kirkland Development, Charter

Homes, HouseWorks, and other HBAJ partners.

The “A Home for Brad” campaign

launched on August 31 and utilizes

Facebook, primarily, to reach the

over 11,000 followers of the “A Home

for Brad – Praying for Deputy Brad

Sullivan” page.

“This is going to be an expensive project,” said Dwayne Moak.

“Not only have the cost of building supplies skyrocketed, but

everything in Brad’s home will have to be customized, adding

expense, so it’s important we reach as many people as possible.”

All donations are fully tax deductible. Contributions can be made

through their website at www.ahomeforbrad.org or checks may

be made payable to the Madison County Mississippi Sheriff’s

Department Benefit Association, Inc. (Madison SD Benefit

Association) at 2941 Highway 51, Canton, MS 39046.

Those interested in donating homebuilding services, supplies,

equipment, etc., can contact Vicky Bratton of the Home Builders

Association of Jackson at vicky@hbajackson.com. For all

monetary donation inquiries, contact LeeAnn Sanders with

the Madison County Sheriff’s Department at leeann.sanders@

madison-co.com. For all other general inquiries email support@


Joey Butler is confident the community will support this endeavor.

“We depend on law enforcement to keep us

safe and protect us. Brad did his job. Now Brad

needs a home. He deserves that. We’re looking

forward to meeting that need.”


Hometown CLINTON • 45

The CHALKBOARD Clinton Schools

Mt. Salus

Inaugural MAIS Season

This fall was our inaugural MAIS soccer season, and our players worked hard to build a good foundation

for upcoming seasons. We had fifteen students who played soccer this year, two of whom are seniors–

Casidee Sanders and Caitlynn Wiegand. The girls’ soccer team was coached this year by Ian Kayser.

Reading Buddies Students in the fifth grade have partnered with first grade students as reading buddies. Each week the fifth graders listen as their first grade

buddies read books, and then help their buddies with pronunciation and reading comprehension. These partnerships encourage both mentoring and fun with reading!

Eighth Grade Cell Projects Our eighth grade

students recently created plant and animal cell

models in 3-D. Their creativity was on display as

they used various mediums to craft these models,

ranging from Styrofoam to edible models of cake.

This project not only offered the students an

opportunity to incorporate their preferred form

of art but also a hands-on approach to learning.

46 • NOVEMBER 2021

Second Grade Olympics Mt. Salus second graders recently participated in their own version of the Olympic Games. There were events, medals, and lots of fun! Students

represented various countries as they learned more about the history of the Olympics, as well as the origin of the events included in the games. Students even did research to

discover more information about the countries they were representing.

STEM The science, technology,

engineering, and math programs

at Mt. Salus offer the students

opportunities to explore and

seek solutions to various issues

and problems using hands-on

techniques. In STEM, students

develop and apply thinking,

reasoning, investigative, and

collaborative skills while also

exercising their creativity and


Hometown CLINTON • 47

The CHALKBOARD Clinton Schools

Clinton High

Congratulations to the members of the Clinton High School 2021 Homecoming Court.

The court was presented September 24 during halftime of the football game. They also rode in the Clinton Homecoming Parade that afternoon.

Front L-R: Sophomore Maids Kelsi Murriel, Leslie Brunson, Mattise Pickett. Juniors Maids Ramayiah Ervin, Peyton Brown, Zharia Bonner,

Back L-R: Denior Maids Kayleigh Kupietz, Arianna Durrell, Kenijha Flowers, Najmah Muhammad, Addison Pletzke, Myla Toaster, Abigail Vargheese Karina Trejo.

National Merit Semifinalists

Four seniors have been named as National Merit

Semifinalists in the 67th National Merit Scholarship

Program. Seniors Abhay Cheruku, Gertarryan Coleman,

Jared Miller and Abigail Vargheese are amongst the

one percent of high school students across the country

to be recognized as National Merit Semifinalists.

These academically talented high school seniors have

an opportunity to continue in the competition for some

7,000 National Merit Scholarships worth more than

$30 million that will be offered next spring.

To be considered for a National Merit Scholarship

award, semifinalists must fulfill several requirements

to advance to the finalist level of the competition.

Over 90 percent of the semifinalists are expected to

attain finalist standing, and more than half of the

finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship,

earning the Merit Scholar title.

“We are exceptionally proud of these students,”

Clinton High Principal Brett Robinson said. “Their hard

work in the classroom has certainly paid off so far, and

we are excited about their participation in the National

Merit Scholarship Program.”

48 • NOVEMBER 2021

Clinton Jr. High

Students 7th grade STEM program received a little community assistance

from the Clinton Fire Department when it came time to participate in the annual egg

drop challenge. “With the help of the Clinton Fire Department, my students had the

chance to watch their designs in action in an extraordinary way,” 7th grade STEM

teacher Lauren Taylor said.

“Each design was given to a fireman in the bucket of the big ladder truck.

They were then hoisted in the air to three different heights and dropped,” she added.

Taylor said Clinton’s firefighters extended the ladder to 20-feet, 50-feet and 95-feet,

releasing the structures from each height.

“Their excitement when they saw the ladder extend to max height was epic,”

Taylor said. “This project is certainly something that my students nor I will soon forget,”

she added. “This only happened because CJHS has an administration that backs and

supports us as teachers and a wonderful fire department that saw its chance

to assist in the education of our students. “We are extremely thankful for Chief

(Jeff) Blackledge and his department,” she said. “More than they will ever know.”

Hometown CLINTON • 49

TheTime COIN

Camille Anding

Fall break for our grands meant camping

at Roosevelt Park, just a few miles from

our home. This would be a repeat campout like we

had enjoyed during their last fall break—except this time

we would concentrate on bootcamp skills for life. Days

like this are few, so I wanted them to count for some

lifelong memories and education.

There were trails through the woods and along the

campsites. I warned them that the mild days certainly

hadn’t sent the snakes into early hibernation. They had

to watch their steps. That was a needless warning. The

noise we carried onto the trails made all the critters flee.

There are limited volume controls on children, and most

know only full throttle.

I had planned some semi-healthy meals, but food

at campsites is limited to the outdoor grill. It was an eyeopening

experience to learn the energy that’s packed in

cheese puffs and pretzels. Sugar from the individual cups

of Blue Bell ice cream added extra energy boosts. It was a

lesson I learned the first day. Survival mode automatically

kicks in with children. Food pyramids have

no place during campouts.

Othel and I loaded down the camper

with their scooters, basketball, whiffle ball

and bat, tennis rackets, and rip sticks.

I quickly learned that the fire pit on our

site was the acme of entertainment.

Gathering firewood, stoking, stick lighting

and smoke-outs with pine needles won out over every

entertainment item they brought. The grands taught me

that simple things can be the best things.

Their mom had sent ample selections of matching

outfits for cold and warm temps. However, in the early

morning rushes to get outside, matching didn’t matter.

They chose whatever shirts and bottoms were nearest to

the top of their bags. Along our walks we met other

campers, but our troop was not the least inhibited by their

apparel. I learned that clothes and the time we can invest

in “looking the part” can take up too much living time.

I had wanted to make the experience fun and joyful for

the kids. From ages seven to fifteen, there’s a broad

difference in likes, and I had selected games and activities

to ensure their camping enjoyment. However, they taught

me that joy came in their birth packages. We had to remind

them of the “quiet hours” in the park and how the lake

amplified their laughter. I learned that joy and laughter

were blessings they didn’t even have to consider. It would

probably take adulthood before they would

understand such blessings.

As I reflected on our first few days of

boot camp, I thought how God must have

seen the humor of our teaching lessons.

The grands were the real instructors;

it was actually grandparents’ bootcamp.

50 • NOVEMBER 2021

Hometown CLINTON • 51


What does it mean to you?

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vision of prosperity is different from the next.

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We will work with you to navigate life’s major

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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

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205 E. Main Street • Clinton, MS

For a free initial consultation,

please call 601-925-8099 or visit





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