Four members of the Forrest County Branch of the NAACP #5291 were recognized with three awards at the Mississippi State NAACP Convention held virtually on November 11-13. The convention presents five prestigious annual awards.
Vernon Dahmer Award
The Vernon Dahmer Award, presented to the individual(s) for contributing the most to both youth and adult citizens of the African American community, was presented to Joseph and Andrea Wesley of Hattiesburg.
In their roles as leaders of the political action and the education committees, they have sponsored political forums for state, county, and city election campaigns.
In the 2020 election season they wrote and secured grants to help with the NACCP’s Get Out the Vote campaign and each spent hours of time canvassing neighborhoods and registering people of Forrest County to vote. For the last three years of election cycles, they have organized and sponsored rides to the polls.
At least 2 times per year, they enter schools to help students approaching the age of 18 to register to vote; they have been successful in getting high school principals to include civic lessons. As former university/college educators, both have been highly effective in working with schools, educational institutions and initiatives, Greek organizations and churches to achieve educational goals.
Both have been in the NAACP for over thirty years and are Diamond Life members. They are the parents of five children and many grandchildren. They are members of ST. James CME Church where they actively participate.
Jerry Mauldin Corporate Award
The Jerry Mauldin Corporate Award, presented to the individual or corporation for having demonstrated concern for civic and community affairs, was awarded to Mavis A. Creagh, who has devoted virtually all her work to civic and community affairs. She has expertise in revitalization of communities and economic development and in recovery following natural disasters.
Creagh currently serves as Executive Director of R3SM, Inc. (Recover, Rebuild, and Restore Southeast Mississippi), an award-winning nonprofit founded following Hurricane Katrina.
Over the past four years R3SM has provided oversight of 30 new constructions, 150+ repair projects, and over 5 million dollars in volunteer labor and donations throughout the state of Mississippi and facilitated numerous other assistance programs.
R3SM owns and operates the renovated the historic Volunteer House (circa 1910) formally known as the “Robinson Inn” in the Historic Newman-Buschman Neighborhood, which offers administrative offices, a small event venue, training space, temporary and transitional housing, seasonal university lodging and accommodations for up to sixty volunteers who come as far as Canada.
Creagh is the proud mother of an ambitious and multi-talented teenage son, Jordan, and lives in Hattiesburg. She recently became an NAACP Silver Life Subscribing Member.
Fannie Lou Hamer Award
The Fannie Lou Hammer Award, presented to the individual or organization for demonstrating the most genuine care for those in need, was awarded to Mary Jean Hossley, a member of the NAACP since 2003.
A highly awarded healthcare professional, Hossley has long served as the Forrest County Branch NAACP Chair of the Health Promotions Committee.
When the pandemic began, Dr. Hossley organized pandemic responses throughout Forrest County and the Pine Belt, beginning by sewing masks with her daughter (over 2000!), but later in disseminating protective information, instruction in hygiene and medical care, where to go for tests or treatment and instruction on computerized registration.
Later, she collaborated with other organizations to vaccinate as many people as possible but particularly hard-to-reach elderly, disabled and low-income individuals through advertising and information campaigns and events, during which 1800 people received vaccinations.
On September 28, 2021, she joined the “Pine Belt: This is Our Shot” campaign with the Vaccination Equity Initiative (VEI-Mississippi), a part of the Microsoft Global Vaccination Equity Initiative organized to address health services in underserved communities.
Hossley is an ordained minister, a wife, the mother of one daughter who is also active in the NAACP, and the godmother to six. Her home church is Hattiesburg Crusade for Christ Deliverance Church.