Everyday Heroes: Goods give children opportunity to travel, explore the nation
By Mary Kathryn Carpenter
The Natchez Democrat
NATCHEZ — Dianne and Joe Good live up to their last name by helping area children experience the world.
The couple recently took D&J Youth Group, a group of nearly 30 children, on a good, old-fashioned road trip to the West.
The group of students loaded up a bus and set off to see several national treasures, including the Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon, from June 15 to 22.
“The Grand Canyon was so big and beautiful,” said Regginald Good, Joe and Dianne’s 16-year-old grandson and member of the youth group. “It was a life changing moment, because you realize how powerful God is by creating something like that.”
The trip, the 10th of its kind taken by the youth group, inspired imagination among the youth attending.
“I liked the view of the mountains and the Grand Canyon,” said Orondé Watkins, a rising Natchez High School senior. “I thought about what it was like to live there and what it would be like to climb the mountains.”
The group received an education on the history of the Hoover Dam and of Las Vegas, their final destination on the trip, as well as the importance of travel.
“The world is a big place,” Regginald said. “It is so much more than just Natchez. Natchez is little, but if you stay here long
enough you think it is the whole world, but when you see the world, it opens your eyes.”
The children credit their insight into the world to Joe and Dianne.
“We wouldn’t be able to go anywhere without them,” said Jonnetta McCoy, a rising NHS junior. “Not a lot of adults would do this. It’s hard to find the patience and time.”
The youth spent parts of the last year fundraising to go on the trip by selling barbeque dinners and chocolate and singing for the congregation of Holy Family church.
“The fundraising makes you feel like you deserve it,” said Shakeria Knight, a rising NHS junior.
The students are also required to do well in school. If they must attend summer school, they can’t go on the annual summer trip.
Joe considers the youth group his grandchildren, and the kids feel the same what about him and Dianne.
“They are like my grandparents,” McCoy said. “I’m glad they’re here for me and everyone else.”
Latrice Ramsey, a rising junior at NHS, appreciates the drive the Good’s give her to achieve high grades.
“(The Goods) push us and give us motivation,” Ramsey said. “Even if we feel like we can’t get it anywhere else, we can get support from them.”
Joe had one goal when he and his wife started D&J Youth Group approximately 10 years ago.
“I wanted to change how they think and how they do things,” Joe said. “The only way to do that is show them how other people live. I enjoy making sure the kids get the best life they can get.”
Dianne wanted to be a friend and mentor to the children in the group and offer them council and school help.
“I try to put myself on their level,” Dianne said. “I don’t want to be above or beneath them. If they need us, I want to make sure I am open to discuss their issue. If they have a problem I hope they can come to me. If I can’t answer, I will try to find someone can.”
Knight recognizes and enjoys that the youth leaders are always ready to pay attention to a problem.
“Anytime I need someone to talk to I can go to (Dianne),” Knight said. “I know they care about me.”