Today’s Wonder Woman is the Executive Director of Lighthouse Community Development, Charity A. Jones. Jones grew up in a local rural church in Mendenhall MS. She was very active in the youth group and their ministry leadership development program. She graduated with honors from Mendenhall High School and received a full fellowship with Habitat for Humanity at Sterling College, Sterling, KS. Jones received her BS in Business Administration and minor in Social Entrepreneurship, Cum Laude May 2006. After graduation, she served as a project manager at a local company that provided marketing services to nonprofit organizations such as Joel Osteen, James and Betty Robinson, and Joyce Meyer. She also served as the company’s call center manager that provided overflow support for incoming calls and prayer lines while in Kansas.
Upon Charity’s return to Mendenhall in 2009, she discovered the town had changed dramatically. Businesses were boarded up and many of the people she grew up with had moved away. Charity recalled one life goal she set for herself a long time ago, to obtain her Master’s degree. In April 2013, she graduated from Belhaven University, Jackson, MS with honors in Leadership Development. That following year she started her non-profit organization, Lighthouse Community Development. Learn more about Charity and her work below.
Fancy: How would you describe your swagher? What makes Charity, Charity?
Charity: I would describe me as bold, compassionate and saved by grace. I’m a mother of two amazing boys, Hasani and Anthony, and I’m a Woman on a Mission!
Fancy: What inspired you to start Lighthouse Community Development?
Charity: Although I am employed full time, I still have unmet needs and struggle to make ends meet. So many of my neighbors are in a similar situation, working a full time job, and still struggling to make ends meet. Lighthouse Community Development was birthed in September 2014 when the need of 25 senior citizens faced with food insecurities was presented to our church. My heart was pierced to think that this could be my grandmother or grandfather. My own struggling had blinded me to the hunger and poverty in Simpson County. Sometimes we judge others by outward appearances. It appears that because you drive a certain type of car, your struggle is not real. Because of my own situation, I have found this to be untrue, and I have learned not to be judgmental of others because of outward appearances. Our elderly certainly should not have to decide between eating this month and buying medication. Lighthouse’s mission is to end hunger, build community, and transform lives in Simpson County. We do this through food distribution and life skills training. We find that there are many people struggling with basic needs in our county. We provide food distribution, life skills training, spiritual and emotional support for women and men who need assistance, giving them a chance for a successful outcome.
Fancy: What happened to the programs and people who were once in Simpson County?
Charity: People moved away. People grew older. The population changed and funding dried up.
Fancy: What services do you all provide?
Charity: We have three active programs:
Manna Food Distribution– Manna is a community food pantry that serves on average 400 individuals a month.
Simpson County Future Engineers– SCFE is a robotics scholarship program for students 7th through 12th grade. The primary goal of the program is to provide students with the skills necessary to obtain a career in the field of engineering. Our program meets the academic standards for science, technology, engineering and mathematics better known as S.T.E.M.
Let’s Talk About It– Basically it is a biblical and financial counseling service. The program provides a platform for women to share and gain the knowledge and skills necessary to make good sound life decisions. The program utilizes various means, and venues to allow women to openly share, and discuss life situations without judgment, while getting the support and assistance needed to grow and develop personally.
Fancy: The program seems to be doing great things. How big is your team?
Charity: We are a volunteer ran organization currently with a core team of 10.
What has been the biggest challenge for you all?
Charity: Resources and funding continues to be a challenge. Simpson County is located in a food dessert area in rural Mississippi, where grocery stores and farmers markets are non- existent or not easily accessible. Our location sits between two large cities, Jackson and Hattiesburg. We are often overlooked.
Fancy: What do you find most rewarding about your work?
Charity: That’s simple, serving the people!
Fancy: How can others help?
Charity: Get involved! We need monthly financial supporters. A $25, $50 or $100 a month could make a real impact to the mission we are doing here. We also need Ambassadors for Lighthouse to speak on our behalf or create a platform for us to share.
Fancy: Do you have any upcoming events or projects that you would care to share?
Charity: We will have our Annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner November 19, 2017. This has become a tradition for our clients and community. We serve a Free Thanksgiving Dinner for our clients to come and fellowship. For many, this is the only time they have to sit down with friends and family to share a meal. We are accepting sponsorships, food and money, for this event. We feed 200 individuals last year. Our goal is 300 this year!
Simpson County Future Engineers Robotics team kicked off their Robotics Competition Season with First Tech Challenge. Our team is in need of sponsors, we still need $5000 for the season. Sponsor levels start off at $100. Our youth will be re-purposing a donated pharmacy robot to compete this season. Our season goes from September-May.
Fancy: Please share two of your favorite quotes.
Charity: “Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.” William Carey
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
Stay current with Charity and Lighthouse below:
We are a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit. Donations can be mailed to
PO BOX 658
Mendenhall, MS or find us online at www.lcdofms.org.