Faith & Family: Natchez JA using faith to guide future outreach plans

Published 12:10 am Saturday, November 1, 2014

By Morgan Mizell

The Natchez Democrat

NATCHEZ Members of one Miss-Lou organization are using their faith to guide the direction of the future of their charitable outreach.

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The Junior Auxiliary began in the Mississippi Delta over 70 years ago. Since that time, chapters have developed throughout the state of Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and Tennessee.

For more than 50 years, the Junior Auxiliary of Natchez has sought to provide for the needs of those without resources and is well known for projects like the “Angel Tree” and “Pack the Bus.”

Both of these projects are important; however, they lack the hands-on approach the current JA president, Michelle Joseph, has in mind.

“I think that we do a great service with our current projects, but we don’t really get the opportunity to know the children and bless them personally, and have them bless us,” Joseph said. “I would like to see us become more involved and really put in some time for the area children.”

Joseph, who took office in May 2014, has high hopes for the organization.

“I pray daily for JA, and I ask that all of the ladies in the group do the same,” Joseph said. “I know that we can accomplish great things if we look to God to guide us and place us where we need to be.”

The history of JA in Natchez is a strong one. The stories of a group of ladies who saw needs in the community and set out to meet those needs are never far from Joseph’s mind.

“These ladies went out and took care of these kids and when they thought they could do more, they came up with a plan to raise the money to build the Junior Auxiliary Canteen, located in Duncan Park,” Joseph said. “I can just imagine those ladies wearing their big hats and talking about what they were doing until they made the several thousand dollars it took to build the canteen. I think it is great.”

The volunteer organization is in the rebuilding stage.

“We have had members come and go for one reason or another,” Joseph said. “I think that when we say our JA prayer, we really have to have our hearts in it or we won’t be there long. I want people to see the enjoyment that can be had in JA. I don’t want people to feel burdened by this commitment.”

The chapter also does more on a more personal basis as well. If a family lost their house in a fire, Junior Auxiliary can help get the children uniforms, school supplies and a back pack to return to school the next day.

They also assist a struggling family in the area with basic needs throughout the year.

“We really want to focus on the people we are trying to help.” Joseph said. “We want to provide more than just financial assistance, and we want to really impact their lives and make a difference.”

The chapter hosts various fundraising campaigns throughout the year to assist area underprivileged families.

The ladies of JA are getting ready to induct new members into the organization later this month.

“I think that we are like a big family,” Joseph said. “We have differences but overall, we come together and put other’s needs ahead of our own. I know that the newest group of ladies have put new life into JA, and I am excited to see where we go from here.”

Those interested in becoming members of Junior Auxiliary can send inquires to