Grants spark community beautification
SUNLIGHT BAPTIST CHURCH – Michael Carter, left, Devon Pruitt, April Carter, Tammie Jennings and Tiffani Parnell spread mulch around newly cleared land at Sunlight Baptist Church. Jennings' push to clean up the church grounds brought the community together. Photo by Carisa McCain / The Meridian Star
By Ida Brown / religion editor
June 1, 2002
When a vacant area near a church's parking lot became an eyesore, the congregation's young people took the matter in hand.
A similar response occurred at another Meridian church. Then-project coordinator Donna Breaizel assembled a group of 5- to 18-year-olds from St. James AME Church to spruce up the parsonage.
Keep America Beautiful
Funding for both projects came from the Keep America Beautiful Youth Mini-Grants Program, an anti-litter and beautification program administered by the Meridian/Lauderdale County KAB. Beverly Knox, KAB coordinator, said the program provides "seed" money for local initiatives in environmental education.
And while the beautification of church property was a primary goal for both church leaders, the projects also addressed other concerns, particularly discipline.
Jennings agrees, adding that the project gave young people a way to connect with the church's surrounding community.
Planning for the future
The awards will be presented to both churches later this month. With an advance from the church, Sunlight's youth cleared the lot, and purchased a table and three benches to beautify the area. Fund-raisers generated additional money.
With funds received from last year's KAB Youth Mini-Grant, St. James' youth made borders in front of the house and planted crepe myrtle trees on each side and lantanas inside the borders. The group also cleared a vacant lot used for church parking, and made plans to plant trees and purchase park benches. The group will continue to improve their project with funds received from this year's grant.
Seventeen grants totaling more than $7,000 will be awarded in 2002. Other recipients were: CARE Lodge, Marion Park Elementary School, West Lauderdale Elementary School, Community of Hope, Parents As Teachers, St. Patrick Catholic School and Northeast Elementary School.