Three women nurture MIss-Lou organizations

Published 2:12 am Sunday, May 11, 2008

Here are three stories of local women who gave birth and continue to nurture some of the Miss-Lou’s important organizations.

Minor proud of Boys & Girls Club:

NATCHEZ — Ever since its humble beginning almost seven years ago, Executive Director Fay Minor has nursed the Boys and Girls Club of the Miss-Lou into a strong, proactive program in the area.

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When the doors first opened in 2002, 600 children were ready to join, now as the club has expanded to not just Adams County, but Jefferson, Warren and Copiah counties, the club serves approximately 3,000 children.

Minor, though proud, is humble about her accomplishments because she sees what her effort is for.

“It’s all about the kids,” she said.

Daily, Minor works with children to help them with their education, develop social skills, help them apply for scholarships and teach them everyday life lessons.

Minor clearly recalls a young man who told her that he wasn’t going to college and every day for five years she told him to go to college.

He is now a rising sophomore at Alcorn State University.

“It’s those touching stories that make you realize you’re doing something right,”

But Minor said just being able to offer a place for the kids is what she enjoys most of all.

“I think what’s most rewarding is when the doors open,” she said.

She recently won the Professional of the Year Award this year, which was the second time it was given to her.

“The second one is pretty special to me,” she said. “When I got the first one I was still getting my feet wet.”

Every day, Minor is looking ahead to the future of the Boys and Girls Club.

She said the next step she wants to take is to truly diversify the club.

“It’s not just the black kids that have nothing to do is the community, there’s nothing for the white kids to do in the community.”

She said with the Boys and Girls Club, it’s imperative to be diverse.

Minor, who wanted to be a part of the program ever since it was first discussed isn’t going anywhere.

“I’m planning on sticking around for a long time,” she said.

Miller nurtures city’s past and future:

NATCHEZ — Of all the residents of Natchez it may be difficult to find any who love the city more than Mimi Miller.

For Miller her first trip to Natchez was a life-changing experience.

“It was love at first sight,” she said of her fist trip down St. Catherine Street in 1973.

Miller is program director at Historic Natchez Foundation.

Miller started working at the Foundation in 1992 and moved to Natchez in 1973.

Prior to working for the Foundation Miller did preservation consulting work in Natchez and around Mississippi.

Miller said she was initially drawn to preservation work by her love of old buildings that runs through her family.

But for Miller the work she does is about more than just preservation.

“I never made a preservation decision that I didn’t consider to be an economic development decision also,” she said. “I don’t worship the past. You have to look at what it means for today and tomorrow.”

For Miller a glance around town is reminder of the positive changes she has been able to make with the Foundation in the community.

Miller said of her work in the community on the Linton House is one of her favorite projects.

Miller said when the building fell into disrepair after a fire many residents wanted it demolished.

“But that’s one of the grandest buildings in the area,” she said.

Miller said the Foundation was able to purchase the building and refurbish the exterior until it could be purchased by someone who could renovate it completely.

“I don’t even want to think of what could have ended up there,” she said.

And it’s that type of thinking that has Miller thinking of the past and the future.

“That building improves the whole area,” she said.

And for some it’s Miller who actually improves the area.

Former President of the Foundation, Darryl Grennell, said he can hardly think of the Foundation without Miller.

“She is such a valuable resource for all of us,” he said.

“We are extremely fortunate to have her.”

Bingham dedicated to music museum:

FERRIDAY — Sixteen years, two museums and seven music festivals after she joined a committee exploring the option of opening a museum in Ferriday, Judith Bingham is still dedicated to her cause.

Now the director of the Delta Music museum, in 1992 Bingham was one of the members of a committee that was interested in preserving some of Ferriday’s history.

“After we had a couple of folk life festivals, it was a dream of the Ferriday Chamber to have a museum with exhibits about some of the famous people from Ferriday, like Jerry Lee Lewis,” Bingham said.

The efforts of the committee led to the opening of the Ferriday Museum in 1995, and in 2001 then-Secretary of State Fox McKeithen expressed interest in taking the museum under the umbrella of the Secretary of State’s Office museum program.

“Under the state umbrella, we changed it to the Delta Music Museum, which is dedicated to preserving the music and culture of the Mississippi Delta,” Bingham said.

Because she had worked as exhibits coordinator for the Louisiana State archives, Bingham was offered the job as director.

And it’s the perfect work for her.

“I have a love for that type of work,” she said. “That’s my niche.”

Ferriday mayor-elect Glen McGlothin, who served with Bingham on the museum committee, agreed, and said Bingham’s love for the museum has been an asset for it.

“The new addition, the Arcade theater, that would not be if it were not for Judith,” McGlothin said. “She is very community minded, and she doesn’t do anything without the community in mind. I couldn’t ask for anybody better to run that place.”

After the years of work, Bingham said she couldn’t help but feel a little proud of the museum.

“I really kind of feel like the museum is my baby,” she said. “I feel like I helped birth it and I just worked diligently to bring it to the forefront.”