This week we’ve been profiling the three top charities you’ll find on the ballot to win the $5000 Starkville Restaurant Week Charity Prize presented by CADENCE BANK. You’ve met the first two, and today you can learn more about the final charity. In just a few days, YOUR job begins! We encourage you to celebrate Starkville Restaurant Week beginning Monday by experiencing as many of our participating restaurants as possible! Every time you eat, you’ll have the chance to cast a ballot featuring our top 3 charities. Good eats do good during Starkville Restaurant Week!
How long has your organization been in operation and how was it founded?
The existence of Sally Kate Winters Family Services is evidence that one person really can make a difference in the lives of many. Sally Kate Winters Memorial Children’s Home was formally established in 1990. Prior to then, children from Clay County and the surrounding communities who were in crisis and suffering from abuse or neglect, had nowhere to go in an emergency. If they were removed from their homes by Child Protective Services, the only place to take them in an emergency was the Sheriff’s office. Sometimes children had to spend nights in an open jail cell.
It was a phone call from one of the Deputies at the Sheriff’s office to Mrs. Martha Winters that sparked the change.
Mrs. Martha Winters, and her husband Mr. Preston Winters, a prominent local businessman, suffered a personal loss on April 11, 1965. Their only daughter, Sally Kate, died in a tragic car accident. She was two months away from graduating from The University of Mississippi. She was studying to be a teacher. To honor their daughter’s legacy, Mr. and Mrs. Winters established memorial foundations to the city of West Point and The University of Mississippi.
The Deputy knew of Mrs. Winters’ community philanthropy and made a phone call to her in 1988. They, along with a dedicated group of local citizens, established the first Board of Directors of the Sally Kate Winters Memorial Children’s Home.
What is your organization’s ongoing mission?
Since the inception of the Sally Kate Winters Memorial Children’s Home in 1990, the mission of the program has been to offer the gift of humanity, love, and respect to children traumatized by child abuse and neglect. This mission has allowed the program to provide emergency shelter services to hundreds of children in need of a temporary, safe-haven while permanency was being sought for their lives.
In what ways does your organization impact the Golden Triangle area?
Sally Kate Winters is changing the lives of children and families. We are a silver lining on a dark cloud for many children.
Just in the past year 128 children and youth have been a part of Sally Kate Winters’ Crisis Intervention Programs; our Emergency Shelter Program, our Runaway and Homeless Youth Program and our Overnight Respite Program for Foster Families. The children and youth were from 16 MS Counties collectively with Lowndes, Clay and Oktibbeha representing the leading counties of service.
EMERGENCY SHELTER PROGRAM
The most common needs for Emergency Shelter Placement are neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse and need of supervision. Services are available for children ages birth to 17. We maintain a referral system with The MS Department of Human Services, Foster Families and Youth Courts. We are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The children who stay with us under these circumstances receive the services of shelter, food, and clothing along with connections to caring adults.
Runaway and homeless youth PROGRAM
Sally Kate Winters’ RHY goal is to provide youth between the ages of 12 and 17 with emergency shelter and support services that assist runaway and homeless youth in crisis, reunite them with their families, strengthen family relations, and help transition them to safe and stable living arrangements. The program provides youth in crisis with emergency shelter care, crisis intervention, referral services, individual therapy and family counseling, case management, education support, job training and placement assistance, socialization skills, as well as family aftercare and reunification services.
Residential Services for RHY
Residential services will be provided to youth for up to 21 days. Four shelter beds will be available for runaway and homeless youth at all times with two emergency shelter staff on duty 24 hours a day and available to address the individual needs of each runaway and homeless youth. The staff will provide youth with personal space for their belongings and sleeping arrangements, acquaint them with on-duty staff and residents, and provide orientation of shelter schedule and procedure (i.e. meals times, staff schedules, laundry, chores, transportation.) Youth will be provided with three nutritional meals each day plus a morning, afternoon and evening snack.
Non-Residential Services for RHY
Non-residential services will be provided to those youth who do not need the emergency shelter services. Non-residential services will include securing a safe placement for the youth through contacts with parents/legal guardian and determining appropriate referrals based on the information provided, individual counseling on a weekly basis, Family counseling on a weekly basis (if needed), participation in the After School Program which includes tutoring, life skills curriculum, and educational activities, as needed, referrals to other programs/agencies will be made as needed.
The outreach component of our RHY Program is SAFE PLACE. Safe Place exemplifies how communities can collaborate to provide immediate help to youth. Safe Place involves many aspects of the community including but not limited to businesses, youth service agencies and volunteers. Nationally, businesses such as fast food restaurants, convenience stores, and community buildings like fire stations and libraries are designated as Safe Place locations. These sites, identified by the diamond shaped yellow and black Safe Place sign, are conveniently located in areas where the need is greatest. Any young person in a crisis situation can walk in and ask an employee for help. Sally Kate Winters Family Services will be contacted and within minutes a Safe Place representative arrives to meet with the youth. Counseling and shelter is made available if needed. Safe place connects distressed children and families with resources they need to keep them safe and provide them with support and guidance.
Families First Resource Center Program
Sally Kate Winters’ FFRC offers family support services that enhance parents’ ability to respond to their children in a positive manner and strengthen the family unit. A variety of programs and services are provided for parents, youth, and professionals that are designed to increase family stability and independence by offering training and resources that promote a safe, stable, and supportive family environment. The program identifies three key objectives: Parenting Skills, Abstinence Education & Public Awareness. Additionally, our Resource Center is offers free resources to the community such as a check out system of books and games for children, free internet and computer access, administrative assistance to the community (printing, faxing, etc.) and paper and art supplies.
Can you briefly share one of your success stories?
With over twenty years of existence, Sally Kate Winters Family Services has been blessed to witness the true benefit of our services through voluntary contact with adults who were once children in our shelter. The feeling of visiting with a person who, after many years, remembers every detail of their experience at SKW really puts the work that we do into perspective. When these visits occur, the sense of safety that was offered to each child during their time of crisis is revealing and profound.
This past holiday season, an adult brother and sister who were travelling through to visit family arranged to stop by for a visit with our staff. They each brought their families with them to show their own children their childhood home, Sally Kate Winters. They talked about their favorite meals, they remembered celebrating a birthday here, and they remembered their bedrooms, their closet where they hung clothes, swinging on the swing set in the back yard, taking field trips. The memories that create a happy childhood, the experiences that can seem routine to most of us, are the memories they had from here. They remembered laughing. They remembered feeling secure. Safety, a fundamental basic need in Maslow’s hierarchy of human existence is what led these children to believe in their future. To know that Sally Kate Winters Family Services and the care our staff offered them brought about the outcomes of a happy family, employment, and stability for them as adults are truly gifts of success for our program.
How do you anticipate using the $5000 if your organization is voted as the top charity for Starkville Restaurant Week?
The $5000 would be an amount that is outside of our yearly operating budget. We follow very strict guidelines with regard to our funding that covers daily, monthly, yearly operating costs. To receive this donation would allow us to step outside of our financial obligations and have a bit of freedom to make choices that would positively impact the children staying with us in extra ways.
First and foremost, we will use it within the purposes of meeting the basic human needs we offer children within our Emergency Shelter. Among the costs we could use the money to supplement would be our food budget, we supply residents with 3 meals a day plus snacks. We’ve discussed allotting a budget to take our children to a local farm or Farmer’s Market and giving them the opportunity to purchase fresh and local fruits and vegetables and expose the children and youth to healthy meal and snack choices.
Many of the children who come to take advantage of our services come to us with the only clothes on their backs. It is an incredible boost to their self respect and self esteem to be offered items that belong to them personally. Primarily, we depend on donations and in-kind contributions to meet the needs of personal hygiene items and luggage to offer children to have as their own. Because we are an interim placement facility and we offer these to each child, no matter how long they stay, our supplies fluctuate a lot. We would use a portion of the donation to create a personal First Night Kit for each child that would include specific personal items for both male and female and be able to customize the kits to each child’s individual needs.
Reaching out to our community and offering positive, preventative education is an extremely important aspect of Sally Kate Winter’s goals. We would use a portion of this donation to allow us to achieve that goal by offering a Leadership Youth Summit in May through our Family Resource Center. To call it “seed money” would be appropriate because it would help us plant seeds of leadership, community responsibility, healthy relationships, a commitment to education and appropriate social behavior. We want to collaborate with youth groups and community resource centers in Lowndes and Oktibbeha counties and create an opportunity for young men and women in the Golden Triangle to receive tools that will help them grow into committed, active and responsible members of our community. We want to target Jr. High and High School students and offer them an experience that shows them, through various learning sessions with local community leaders and Sally Kate Winters’ Community Educators, how to successfully navigate their path from adolescence into adulthood. This donation would allow us to seek a facility, have materials to offer the youth participants, reach and connect with a larger, broader audience.
You’re one of our top three SRW charities! Now, tell us who YOU would vote as the top Starkville restaurants to try during Starkville Restaurant Week?
It’s hard to pick. But I would say Bin 612 and Central Station Grill.