By Daniel Brunty
The Choctaw Plaindealer
Broken Wings Ministries, Inc. and its subsidiaries have been providing service to Choctaw County residents for years. With Christian-based volunteers ready and willing, Broken Wings looks forward to continue their mission of love and sharing.
Many Choctaw County residents over the years have been blessed by the services provided by Broken Wings Ministries, Inc. During that time, the organization has been an anchor to the community, giving hope and help for them in their times of need.
Broken Wings was founded in 1997 by two ministers, Bro. Roger Griffith and Bro. Bill Hales. Both men were determined to see God’s directive put into reality. The organization was incorporated in 1999 to become a 501(c)3 charitable organization in Choctaw County.
The mission statement for the Broken Wings states it is “an interfaith-based, non-profit organization dedicated to helping people go from poverty to self-sufficiency by assisting with a hand up, not just a hand-out.” The organization has lived up to its statement during its entirety, and still continues to this day.
Broken Wings consists of a thrift shop and houses The Choctaw County Food Pantry, both at 168 Jailhouse Road in Ackerman. The Pantry, which is part of the Baptist Association, serves the residents of Choctaw County by providing emergency food assistance by referral only. The thrift shop is designed to help families or individuals who have need of clothing: “burned out”, homeless, needy, etc. It also operates as a secondhand store whose funds go back into the ministry.
Another organization associated with Broken Wings is the Christian Women’s Job Corps (A Ministry of WMU). This is a free educational program and ministry that changes the lives of women while providing a Christian environment in which they are equipped and encouraged to for new life in Jesus. It also provides a place where women can gain job skills for employment in order to enhance their lives and their families. It is funded through Broken Wings, the Baptist Convention Board, as well as donations.
The roots of this organization trace back to 1994, when WMU (Women’s Mission Union) wanted to address the issue of women in poverty. By March 1, 1997 CWJC was created. In 1999 a statement of faith was adopted, and in 2000 CMJC (Christian Men’s Job Corps) was affirmed.
CWJC is about the “whole woman”, so each woman also has an out-of-classroom mentor (Christian friend) who walks with a participant and shares in her progress.
The CWJC classes include Bible Study, Workplace Essential Skills, Employer Roundtable Discussions, Computer Classes, Anger Management, Conflict Resolution, Health & Nutrition, Healthy Relationships, Marriage and Child Care, Money Management, and Arts & Crafts.
The program is led by Pam Simpson, Site Coordinator and Charlotte Wade, Assist Site Coordinator. The program just recently completed its first 13 weeks, where the women have completed the first part of their bible study, received certificates in the Building Strong Families program, worked through some anger management, explored art of various mediums, nutrition, and a computer course.
The second 13 weeks will continue their bible study, art, and computers. The main focus of those 13 weeks, however, will be career guidance for preparation for employment (perhaps at a higher level) and/or education.
CWJC enrollment is open to all adult women from Choctaw County who has a desire to learn skills for employment, life, or further their education. Other ways to support the CWJC is to volunteer to be one of the following: Christian Friend (Mentor), Bible Study Leader, Teacher or Teacher’s Helper, Publicity, Celebration Event Helper, Grant Writer, Prayer Team, and Fundraising.
Broken Wings have added another branch to their family tree with the addition of Girlfriends. Sis. Alies Therese, who serves as the program’s class instructor, gave a summary of what Girlfriends is. “Girlfriends at Broken Wings began in January of 2013 in response to the desire of the Broken Wings folks to have a women’s bible study,” Sis. Therese said. “I said I would facilitate it if we could also have an art part and so we began meeting on Fridays from 9 till 1:30. We wanted Girlfriends to be a special group for women who might not have had other opportunities and we wanted to cross denominational , racial, artistic and ageist barriers.”
In its small amount of time being formed, Girlfriends has reached out and embraced Choctaw County with its love and caring touch. The women in the Girlfriends class crafted a piece of wall art for a class project which was displayed at the Choctaw County Courthouse on May 30, 2013. The Girlfriends also held an art show on July 25, 2013, sharing their ‘yard art’, pots, bricks, and cement cylinders, with each other and some Broken Wings staff. In October, the Girlfriends learned how to weave baskets.
“As we have grown and developed we have matured in our style and now Girlfriends continues with our art, prayer/bible study, and trips around Mississippi,” Sis. Therese said. “Beginning in April our art-part will be quilting basics.”
All of these organizations’ bloodlines are the volunteers that dedicate their time, skills, and generosity to make a difference for someone less fortunate. Also, the donations of clothing, furniture, electronics, household items, paper products and food by community members and businesses from all around are the lifeline of the organizations.
One thing that makes all these organizations amazing is the selflessness of all who are involved with it. Volunteers go above and beyond to assist others besides what they provide to the thrift shop and pantry. Many things that these volunteers do is not publicized, and if you asked most of them, they prefer it that way.
Broken Wings and all its ministries have made the quality of life better for residents of Choctaw County for over 17 years. During that time, it is impossible to count all the lives it has made a difference in. When people speak of being a true Christian, the volunteers and staff of broken Wings are perfect examples of it.
Office hours for Broken Wings are Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. The operating hours and drop-off hours for the thrift store are Tuesday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday 8 a.m. to 12 noon (Bag Day 1st and 3rd Saturdays). The food pantry is open on Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 12 noon.
If you would like to volunteer your services to Broken Wings, become a participant or volunteer for CWJC, or make a donation, you may contact the Broken Wings business office at (662) 285-9133.