MARCH & APRIL NEWSLETTER
"Building a strong foundation in literacy is the core of success for students and adults. Families First for Mississippi has placed a strategic emphasis on building literacy programs to reach the whole family. Families First for Mississippi believes it is critical to address literacy issues in Mississippi, so that families can 
be successful," said Dr. Nancy New, Co-Executive Director, 
Families First for Mississippi.

The Gift of Literacy
By: Jenny Cox Holman

There is something quite magical about being immersed in a good book that takes our imagination to places far and wide. In this time of instantaneous information, we reach for what we can find at the touch of a fingertip - social media posts on our cell phones, news on our tablets, and emails on our laptops. In a technology driven society, reading through the pages of a well-read book seems to be a long-lost art and perusing through local libraries is an activity of the past. 
 
Even in a time with vast technological advances, the inability to read and write still plagues communities throughout our country. Imagine the difficult, daily struggles for those who are unable to read and write and the social and cultural embarrassment and setbacks that go along with illiteracy in society. Currently 45 million Americans are functionally illiterate and cannot read above a fifth-grade level, according to the Literacy Project.
 
The causes of illiteracy vary from low-income homes with limited access to books and educational resources, to undiagnosed learning differences or disabilities, or hardships in life that create setbacks in school.  The foundation of education, opportunities for success, and interpersonal skills are all dependent on our ability to read and write. Read more...
Literacy Video
Literacy Video

The Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services, the Mississippi Highway Safety Patrol and Families First for Mississippi are partnering for a prom season safety initiative called "PROM-Please Return on Monday in the same condition you left".  The campaign urges prom-bound students to make good choices such as buckling up, no texting and driving and no drinking and driving.

 "This campaign is focused on showing teens the full circle of consequences of their choices to text and drive, drink and drive, and of not wearing a seatbelt," said Chris Howard, Executive Director for the Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services.  "While Troopers are the ones having to knock on doors with the grim news that a loved one will not be coming home ever again, we see the side where individuals may be left with a disability-- because automobile accidents are a leading cause of traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries.  We think Families First really rounds out this partnership nicely because their teens are leading the way in opening up this conversation with young peers."    


3 Tips for Sharing Meaningful Quality Time with Your Children
By Jenny Cox Holman

When  we reminisce about the "good ole days," our thoughts reflect back to a time when grandparents enjoyed front porch sitting filled with fellowship and laughter, days when families enjoyed fun afternoons at the park, and evenings that were technology free when board games were all the craze. Fast forward to the present time - our frenzied, busy, social media laden lives are filled with schedules brimming full of commitments that leave us depleted and those who deserve our best getting the leftovers of our physical and emotional presence.
 
Being purposeful with your quality time with those you love matters. Maybe you work outside the home, are a stay-at-home mom with multiple children, a busy working dad who works late hours or a single parent juggling a job and family time. Take my three suggestions to cultivate meaningful memories that will help your children thrive and feel secure and loved! Read more 


Mississippi Community Education Center's Professional Development Retreat

The staff of MCEC enjoyed an amazing two-day team building retreat at Camp Shelby. Dr. Nancy New, Executive Director of Mississippi Community Education Center presented a plaque to Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center for an appreciation for their service and friendship to Mississippi Community Education Center and Families First for Mississippi on April 3, 2019.

Key Note Speaker Rick Rigsby

New York Times Best Selling Author and Speaker,  Dr. Rick Rigsby, shared his "Lessons from a Third Grade Dropout" to MDHS and MCEC employees. Dr. Rigsby has inspired thousands to reach for their dreams no matter what obstacles they face. To learn more about Dr. Rigsby or to order his books visit  www.rickrigsby.com
The Next Step
Trustee Program Gives Rankin County  
Inmates a Second Chance! 

Mississippi Community Education Center and Families First for Mississippi celebrated the completition of life skills classes taken by the men and women in the Rankin County Correctional Center Trustee Program. A ceremony was held to recognize them for completing life skills, anger management and workforce development courses through the  Families First for Mississippi curriculum. 

None of this would have been possible without the combination efforts of Sheriff Bryan Bailey, Judge Kent McDaniel, District Attorney John K. "Bubba" Bramlett Jr., MCEC Excecutive Director Dr. Nancy New, and Families First staff members: Donte Jones, Jon Weeks, Tomeka Weeks, Kenneth Magee and Kevin Myers. 

We look forward to continue working with these men and women as they get ready for there next step out of prison.
Conference USA Championship
Kids First Days

Families First for Mississippi, Overtime Sports, and Keesler Federal Credit Union are partnering to host the Conference-USA Baseball Championship KIDS FIRST DAYS at MGM Park in Biloxi on May 22-23, 2019. KIDS FIRST DAYS will start at 8:30 a.m. and end at 1:00 p.m. each day. It will consist of great food, activities, music, and fun for children and teens!

Families First for Mississippi has the opportunity to give away 4,000 tickets to children, teens, and adults throughout the state. The tickets will give you access to the college baseball games and KIDS FIRST DAYS on May 22nd and 23rd. For questions and information please contact Kim Hart at khart@mscec.org.
 
Building Partnerships with Legacy Hospice at the Greenwood Resource Center

Mississippi Community Education Center and Families First for Mississippi Greenwood Resource Center  formed a new partnership with Legacy Hospice. Staff members from the Legacy Hospice provided a door prize for the attendees of the 3rd quarterly coalition meeting. Pictured are the representatives of Legacy Hospice: Gay Smith, ShaRonda Jordan, and the winner Alice Miller of MS Delta Health Collaborative.
 
Read Across America 
at Canton Elementary School

MCEC's Families First for Mississippi  Early Childhood Coach and Development Specialist Morgan Flournoy and Lender Morrison along with Field Educator, Kim Halford read to the precious students at  Canton Elementary School during Literacy Awareness Month . Families First celebrates March as Literacy Month in conjunction with Read Across America Month.
 
Meridian Resource Fair

MCEC's Families First for Mississippi  Meridian Field Educator, Tonya Thomas participated in the Meridian Resource Fair this past week. She is pictured below with Care Lodge Children's Safety Station.
 
"Community Health Fair" at the Mississippi School of Arts in Brookhaven

MCEC's Families First for Mississippi  Brookhaven's Educator, Terra Williams participated in the "Community Health Fair" hosted by Mississippi SHINE Project. This event was located at the Mississippi School of Arts in Brookhaven. Students from the school visited the Families First information table promoting Healthy choices and discussed making good decisions.
 
Crystal Springs at Mendenhall Middle School  
 
Pamela Fairman, Field Educator from the Crystal Springs MCEC's Families First Resource Center had the opportunity to work with the Mendenhall Middle School 8th grade classes, Tuesday, March 19, 2019. Pamela was responsible for making sure that the student budgeted for health care insurance. Sponsored by the Mississippi State Extension Center.

Students were given a budget and were set forth with the task to util ize the budget given to pay monthly bills, add to savings, and choosing which necessitates/wants to spend their money on. This was an eye opening experience for students. "Wow, I didn't know that my parents had to go through all of this, I am going to thank them when I get home," shared by several students. 
 
"Appearance Matters" Workshop 
in Leake County

MCEC's Families First for Mississippi Field Educator, Eric Beamon taught "Appearance Matters" Workshop for young gentlemen in Leake County. This event was held to bring awareness to the importance of appearance. Participants will learn that their appearance matters. Participants will examine the stages of developing a positive image through their physical appearance, their taste, reputation, their friendliness, their generousity, sense of humor, values, and good manners. This workshop will also teach the importance of hygience and professional etiquiette.  Dressing well will not ony increase your self-confidence but it will also impress and attract other people. Proper grooming and a professional appearance are important to gain respect from others.  
MCEC's Families First for Mississippi and Ever Reaching Community Outreach Center's 
Open House

Mississippi Community Education Center and Families First for Mississippi recently had a Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting ceremony at our  Families First for Mississippi  Pelahatchie Resource Center located inside the  Ever Reaching Community Outreach  Center. The Families First team are so excited about the partnership and look forward to reaching the Pelahatchie and surrounding community together. Thank you to the  Rankin County Chamber  for facilitating the Ribbon Cutting. 

Pictured below are various community members from the event along with the Mayor of Pelahatchie, Ryshonda Harper-Beecham, Chief Daughtry, and Rankin County Judge Broome.  

Reading to the Children at Kings Head Start 
 in Vicksburg

MCEC's Families First for Mississippi Vicksburg Center Coordinator, Virginia Campbell read to the children at Kings Head Start in honor of National Literacy Month. March was also National Read Across America Month. Building a strong foundation in literacy is the core of success for our children and families in Mississippi. 

National Crime Victims' Rights Week
at the Hattiesburg Resource Center

Sunday, April 7, 2019 through Saturday, April 13, 2019 was National Crime Victims' Rights Week: an annual commemoration in the United States that promotes victims' rights and services. In honor of Crime Victims' Rights Week, The Shafer Center for Crisis Intervention, Domestic Abuse Family Shelter, and other agencies teamed up with Hattiesburg  Families First for Mississippi  center for an aware ness campaign. Throughout the month of April, you will see pictures of these organizations and businesses wearing Crime Victims' Rights week t-shirts, created by American Graphics in order to promote awareness about crime victims' rights and victim services that are available in the community. 
Reading to the Children at New Beginnings Learning Center in Moss Point 

Mississippi Community Education Center and Families First for Mississippi  Moss Point Center Coordinator, Patrice McCullum, visited New Beginnings Learning Center in Moss Point. They made their own books about cars, fashion designs, and more! MCEC's staff took turns reading each of the student's books.  

Bay St. Louis Volunteering 
at The Kings Kitchen

MCEC's Families First for Mississippi staff of Hancock and Pearl River Counties volunteered to help serve lunch at The King's Kitchen in Bay St. Louis.

MCEC's Families First Book Drive 
in Ocean Springs

Mississippi Community Education Center and Families First for Mississippi had an amazing time at the  Families First for Mississippi Book Drive in Ocean Springs. Huge thanks to Author,  Perry Guy and  Miner's Doll Toy store owner, Merileigh Miner Furr.

Perry Guy gave a book to everyone who donated to MCEC's Families First. He also read and autographed books. Miner's Toy store let us set up shop out front of their store and tell people about Families First while collect books to distribute to Families First clients and partners in need. 

Yellow Ribbon Event in Pascagoula

Mississippi Community Education Center and Families First  participated in the Yellow Ribbon event for the  172 AW Mississippi Air National Guard , Saturday March 16, 2019 in Pascagoula. Through Yellow Ribbon events, Service members and loved ones connect with local resources before, during, and after deployments. Families attend Yellow Ribbon events where they can access information on health care, education and training opportunities, financial, and legal benefits.