Keep My Hood Good in Jackson, tn continues to reach underserved youth

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For more than a decade, the local nonprofit Keep My Hood Good has served disadvantaged youth by mentoring, educating and exposing them to experiences that end generational poverty.

In 2019, the organization held an inaugural banquet to raise funds for its mission. While the pandemic canceled last year’s banquet, it allowed Keep My Hood Good to expand its reach.

“So much has happened for Keep My Hood Good in two years (since the last banquet in 2019),” said Brian James, vice chairman of the board.

“Surprisingly, COVID has given us time to work on our strategic plans, to raise funds and to work on other branches of the organization. “

And the return of the annual fundraising banquet on Thursday was the highlight of how the organization has been “thriving through change” – this year’s theme.

Keep my hood in good condition: His journey to end generational poverty

The organization flourished

Keep My Hood Good continued to focus on its after-school program and strengthen mental health counseling.

Founder Juanita Jones has always focused on mental health counseling, James said. For example, psychologists and counselors have worked with children in KMHG.

For years Jones has seen children in need of counseling, not only during their time with the program, but during the pandemic; during the first few months, COVID-19 closed schools across the country.

Throughout the pandemic, children have faced increased challenges, said James.

“They had no way of communicating,” he added.

Jones said the pandemic has ruled out opportunities for children to interact with teachers and classmates at school, as well as in-person events with the organization.

Jones therefore set up home visits and the organization provided utility assistance to 43 households.

Home visits helped the children to open up and discuss their problems.

This is one of the ways the pandemic has led to innovative ways to meet the needs of children, many of whom have used KMHG’s facilities several times a week.

Whether immediately after the home visit begins or over time, the impact is visible, James said.

“They are able to see and feel the impact of Juanita and the organization,” he said. They are still growing, learning and improving, but we always see children stepping out of their comfort zone.

Helping children prepare for a career or college

KMHG continues to help children find employment, whether in the community or in the military. He also prepares them for university.

Effort to increase public black art in the black community

The organization is preparing for the installation in 2022 of a mural in the black community. The second mural is part of a series planned to increase the presence of black public art, while educating the community about the lack of black art.

Read about it: The Keep My Hood Good program to launch a black public art series with the first mural on Whitehall St.

The artist of the second fresco is Jarvis Howard, a black man from Mississippi who now lives in Memphis.

It already has roots in the ground with artistic and community initiatives, James said.

Howard’s art began to gain popularity when he was a student at the University of Memphis. When celebrities took notice of his work, he ventured out and created his own line of clothing. Howard is also starting a community garden in his neighborhood.

“We want to continue to include black artists to tell black stories and (people) who understand what our neighborhoods are like,” James said. “Jarvis is excited and has the passion that matches Keep My Hood Good. We can’t wait for everyone to meet him and see his work and interact with the kids.

Cultivate your community garden

A community garden is a way to fight food insecurity in the community and to educate children and their families.

In 2020, KMHG received a grant from Toyota to create a community garden on Whitehall St. It is the second community garden created by the organization, but the first owned by KMHG. This is why the organization wants the garden to include spaces for community gatherings and an outdoor classroom.

To involve the community, there will be a community canvas for the garden next week.

In early November, there will be a harvest day for the East Chester Community Garden.

Participants will harvest the turnip, mustard and collard greens, then taste the cooked food that will be served as green vegetables with cornbread and a salad made from green vegetables. Health cards on harvested vegetables will also be distributed on the day of harvest.

This will be the second harvest day this year, after a harvest day in July for corn, okra, black-eyed peas and purple peas.

Launch of a branch of the organization for mothers

The Mom’s Club brings mothers from the predominantly black communities of East Jackson and North Jackson to break generational cycles, while bridging the cultural gaps between the two.

“Since teaching kids how to break generational and poverty cycles in their families, I’ve seen a lot of problems come from home,” Jones said. “I saw the need to help moms, and the Mom’s Club was formed.

Financial literacy, building credit, a high school diploma, basic computer skills, and resume creation are concepts that erase generational poverty and may be lacking in some Jackson homes.

“In order to break a generational or poverty cycle, you have to learn finances,” Jones said.

Mom’s Club members take GED classes at Jackson State Community College, and Jones will help them pursue their passion. For example, she helps a mother become a health worker.

Through a grant, the organization also partnered with the Jackson-Madison County Library to teach families basic computer skills and create resumes.

Plan the implementation of an initiative to address the suspension of students

Jones plans to have 15 suspended students attend the KMHG center for four hours each day they are suspended. They will work on reading comprehension and use mental health counseling to uncover the underlying reasons they have been disciplined.

“In 2019, 1,480 students were suspended from schools in Jackson-Madison County,” Jones said when discussing the goal of the program.

“On the days they’re hanging, I wanted them to be at Keep My Hood Good.”

She will start this semester with two children.

Be part of it

Kid in Keep My Hood Good: Parents can apply online for their children to join the program at www.keepmyhoodgood.org

Moms Club: The club meets the third Tuesday of each month from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at 119 Riverside Dr. To participate, call 731-293-3800

Volunteer: Volunteers can register online for various aspects of the program. Volunteers can help with the current community garden, with the action plan for the new upcoming community garden, with students at the center, as an intern and / or by providing other services.

Make a donation or become a sponsor: Visit the Keep My Hood Good website.

Even as the organization is launching new branches of the program, Jones doesn’t feel like it’s been 12 years. With every new program or initiative that the organization creates, it’s like a fresh start.

“It’s still brand new to me,” Jones said. “I know Brian and the board make these things happen. They make my vision come true, and it is bigger than who or what I am.

As she has reflected over the years, she thanks her board for where Keep My Hood Good is.

“My first ten years was just me,” she said. “Now with my board, I have a perpetual gratitude for them because without them I could not have gone further.”

Lasherica Thornton is the educational reporter for the Jackson Sun. Contact her at 731-343-9133 or by email at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter: @LashericaT


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