Faith and family: Local ministry starts memorial scholarship program

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 5, 2016

By Morgan Mizell

The Natchez Democrat

NATCHEZ — New Direction Outreach Ministries will award $500 scholarships this year in memoriam of member Lacresa “Cookie” Madison.

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The Rev. Kevin Deason said the scholarships came about after members of the church decided they wanted to do something for area youth while also honoring their faithful church member died suddenly in October.

Deason said the church will offer the scholarships to two graduating seniors this year. Seniors must complete an application process and meet guidelines and requirements.

The scholarships are financially backed by two donors.

“Right now we only have two scholarships, but we hope to be able to do more in the future,” Deason said. “We hope to be able to provide them from this point forward.”

The applications and supporting material must be received by the church no later than 4 p.m. May 29. If applicants are mailing in their material, it must be postmarked by May 28.

Applicants must be graduating this year and planning to continue their education in the fall. There is a maximum household income of $30,000, which must be verified. Applicants must have a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or above, and each applicant must provide a personal statement separate from their essay written on the topic of “What Freedom Means to Me.” The personal statement should explain the applicant’s educational goals and how this scholarship will help them continue their education.

“Our goal is to try and reach some of the kids who may not be in the highest percentage of the class grade-wise,” Deason said. “We also want to look at kids who are unable to pursue their goals because of their financial situation. We think everyone deserves an opportunity to pursue their dreams.”

The scholarship program is just one of many ways the church is trying to be a church that doesn’t just exist within the walls.

“We want to reach out into the community and help,” Deason said. “We are working on getting a job-readiness program together to help people become familiar with everything necessary in applying for and getting a job.”

The dates of the classes have not officially been set, but the course will last 4-6 weeks. More information will be available soon. The Rev. Dan Gibson will teach the class.

“We are not just a religious organization,” Deason said. “We are an extension of the community.”

The church is in the process of putting together other programs including a “Meals on Wings” ministry that will provide meals to the sick and shut-in.

“This idea was presented by Pastor Dan Gibson who is new to our church and serves as Executive Director of Mississippi Association of Self-Insurers,” Deason said. “He came to me with the idea and I jumped on board.”

The church has been growing and continues to look for areas to be of service to the community.

“It is who we are and the word outreach is even part of our name,” Deason said. “But all churches work in their community and that is what we are doing – reaching out.”

There are many other projects in the works for the small ministry, and Deason feels there is no limit to what can be accomplished with the help of God.

“We think it is so important to give our young people an opportunity to see what they can achieve if they just have a little help,” Deason said. “Sometimes they just need a little boost.”

Anyone who is interested in getting an application or possibly donating to the scholarship fund can contact the Rev. Kevin Deason by calling 601-451-8546.