Season of Wishes: Guardian Shelter provides refuge for battered women

Published 12:43 am Thursday, December 13, 2018


NATCHEZ — Guardian Shelter for Battered Families provides refuge for women and children from an 11-county area who are leaving abusive relationships.

At any given time, the shelter can house as many as five to six families, said case manager Dorothy Sylvester.

Email newsletter signup

“The need is year round,” Sylvester said of funding, “not just for the holidays. We house families 365 days 24-7.”

Guardian Shelter, however, is only one part of many services offered through Catholic Charities of the Jackson Diocese.

The need for funding such programs as the Guardian Shelter, a rape crisis center and other programs is much appreciated during the holiday season, Sylvester said.

Betty Lou Hicks, a St. Mary Basilica parishioner, who volunteers with Catholic Charities, said cash donations are most beneficial.

“Cash donations are always welcome,” Hicks said. “We can find a home for any donations.”

Once Christmas is over, some families will still need assistance in paying utility bills and putting food on tables, Hicks said.

While the need for funding and support is ongoing, the holiday season brings on special needs, Sylvester said.

“During the holidays we take food donations, gift cards for the ladies and the children,” Sylvester said. “Things for helping them with the holidays.”

In addition to helping shelter families, Hicks said St. Mary coordinates a Catholic Charities Christmas assistance program that takes applications in October from families in need and pairs the families with churches, including St. Mary and Jefferson Street United Methodist Church, and businesses, including Callon Petroleum and River Park Medical Center, that adopt some 70 families and help fulfill their Christmas needs.

“We have such a generous Miss-Lou community, we are able to provide nice things for many of the children who apply,” Hicks said of the average of 300 applications the program receives each year. “Those who do not get adopted get funded through the Christmas Tree Fund, or other programs.”

Hicks said even though the Christmas assistance program is a part of Catholic Charities, the program is non-denominational in the people who contribute and benefit from the program.

“We serve people in need,” Hicks said. “We are Christ’s hands in the community.”

Volunteers, Hicks said, free up manpower in the Catholic Charities to do other work.

The program also provides food to the families in need, Hicks said.

The best way the community can contribute to the never-ending need for the programs offered by Catholic Charities, both Sylvester and Hicks said, is through monetary donations or by contributing to and shopping at the Guardian Collection Thrift Store at 624 Franklin St., Natchez, or by stopping in at the Catholic Charities office at 109 S. Union St., Natchez.

Donations can be mailed to Catholic Charities, P.O. Box 1225, Natchez, MS 39120 with checks made payable to Catholic Charities, Sylvester said.