$100K: Oseola McCarty Center expected to receive funds


Executives from Bancorp South were expected to be in the Hub City today to present a check for $100,000 for use by the Oseola McCarty Youth Development Center, according to a media advisory from the financial institution. The funds are expected to be used to help the organization with its programs that provide vital services to children in Hattiesburg and the surrounding areas.

The bank is participating in The Children’s Promise Act, which offers a dollar-for-dollar Mississippi tax credit to individuals and businesses for donations to eligible charitable organizations. The McCarty center is one of those organizations.

According to the release, BancorpSouth has an unwavering dedication to making a difference in its communities, and this contribution will assist Oseola McCarty Youth Development Center with its efforts to provide young people with resources to achieve their full potential.

Founded in 2003, the center, located at 607 McSwain Street in the East Jerusalem neighborhood, is named after Oseola McCarty, an African American woman who washed and ironed clothes for a living. She sparked national attention and at the University of Southern Mississippi when she gifted the university $150,000 in 1995 in the form of an endowed scholarship. For her selflessness, a residence hall was named in her honor and she was invited to The White House to receive the Presidential Citizens Medal from President Bill Clinton — the nation's second-highest civilian honor. In 1996 Harvard University awarded her with an honorary doctorate, and in 1998 USM awarded her the first-ever honorary doctorate given by the university.At the time, then-University President Dr. Aubrey K. Lucas called her gift "just extraordinary. I don't know that I have ever been as touched by a gift to the University as I am by this one," he said.

The mission of the center is "to empower youth to win in every area of their lives," said Janet Baldwin, center director. “We want to devote the necessary resources to ensuring that all young people are able to build new skills, make contributions, and become a productive part of a community and feel "in control" over their future.”

The center also provides an atmosphere of support and guidance to ensure a sense of competence, a sense of usefulness, a sense of belonging and a sense of empowerment.

The center has three general objectives:

• Our center will offer a range of high-quality educational and recreational services during the youth's out of school time.

• Students who participate in these services regularly will demonstrate educational and social benefits and exhibit positive behavioral changes.

• Our center will work with families to help to provide that sustained support and strengthen family ties.

The ongoing program of the center continues to instill positive characters in the area’s youth such as respect, responsibility, honesty, integrity, teamwork, etc. These characters will help youth have self-esteem and confidence, which is very important to successful behaviors. We focus on developing and encouraging frequent reading habits and reading skills as well as one on one tutoring services.

Currently, the center provides services for approximately 175 families and 250 children overall; with approximately 25 to 30 attending the after-school program, 60-80 attending the summer program and approximately 30 to 50 participating in monthly activities programs. The center is located in the former Grace Love Head-Start Building.