Season of Wishes: D&J Youth Group helps children

Published 12:01 am Friday, December 20, 2019

NATCHEZ — Approximately 15 years ago, Joe Good said the neighborhood around his and his wife Dianne’s house seemed like chaos but instead of moving away they decided to try and change it.

The D&J Youth Group was founded when the couple renovated two houses at 7 Claiborne Street, one into a computer resource center and the other into a performing arts center — both of which were made possible by the generosity of people in the community, Good said.

“I never would have thought in a million years that this would be my calling — working with kids,” Good said.

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The centers open on Monday and Wednesday evenings or as needed so neighborhood kids and teens can do homework or school assignments in a safe setting, Good said. Snacks and meals are also provided weekly to about 15 kids who work regularly in the computer center while the performing arts center hosts a neighborhood choir, Good said.   

“It’s a neighborhood project to help the kids in anyway we can,” he said. “A lot of kids aren’t able to get to the library downtown, but can walk to the computer center.”

Good said the program has helped school-aged children ages 11 years old and older and even some younger children ages 5 and 6 years old with parental supervision.

Good said monetary donations from the community help provide meals, equipment and help fund summer camps as incentives for good behavior and good grades in school.

“Teach them to respect their community, to say ‘yes sir’ and ‘no sir’ and to have a good attitude. … We try to feed them and if the weather is good, I’ll get out on the grill and cook hamburgers to motivate kids to have a good time, stay positive and stay out of trouble. … Those who do well in school are allowed to go on trips. We’ve been to Washington, Florida, Tennessee and Las Vegas and even left the United States to go to Canada one year when we raised enough money to take them. My wife and I thought we’d never be able to do it, but we did.”

Good said monetary donations can be mailed or dropped off at 7 Claiborne Street or 26 East Woodlawn Avenue. For more information, call 601-597-2815 or 601-597-4041.