Neighborhood Watch giving back to the community

Published 4:24 pm Friday, July 27, 2007

Members of the Pearl River County Neighborhood Watch are helping to repair the home of a Nicholson resident as well as trying to keep crime off their streets.

Watch members Gayenell Stockstill and Brenda Cambre said in an interview Friday that the group’s current project is repairing a house for Paul Ernest, who owns the Logan’s Quick Stop in Nicholson. Ernest has a habit of going to sit with the cashiers at Logan’s who have to close the store alone at night, because of the high crime rate in the area.

Stockstill said the group felt it was time to give something back to Ernest, who is elderly and disabled. Each weekend that the weather is clear, members of the group gather at Ernest’s house to assist with repairs. So far, the watch members have replaced rotting boards on the outside of the house. The group’s plans include replacing Ernest’s door and painting the house.

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Home Depot of Picayune donated paint and a front door to the project, Stockstill said.

Another project of watch members was to send a local youth who has diabetes to camp near Jackson. Stockstill said the group raised $500 for camp fees and to take the child shopping for clothes and other items. The child had never been to camp, said Stockstill.

Other projects the group has sponsored or participated in over the past few years have been Thanksgiving meals, a winter coat and shoe project and Wow Jam.

Last November, Stockstill said watch members received permission to gather at the Nicholson Elementary School cafeteria, along with some of the school’s cafeteria workers, and cook Thanksgiving dinners to deliver to needy families in the Nicholson and Jackson’s Landing areas. Last December, the group took up donations to purchase winter coats and shoes for children at Nicholson Elementary who needed them.

“We spoke with Vera (Beech, principal at Nicholson Elementary), and she was very helpful. She got her teachers to make lists of the children who needed coats and shoes and the sizes they needed. … There were kids coming to school in pajamas. It was very sad,” Stockstill said.

“We had to deface the coats and shoes so they couldn’t be returned. Otherwise, (family members) would take anything of value back to the store to get drug money,” Cambre said.

Wow Jam, which was sponsored by several local churches this past May, is a festival put on in cities all over the nation. The day-long event includes booths that provide free services such as haircuts and bike repairs, door prizes and free lunch. The day is concluded with fellowship, worship and fireworks.

Wow Jam was founded by Linda Tavani, “Peaches” of the duo Peaches and Herb, and her husband Stephen.

Stockstill says plans are being made to do the Thanksgiving dinners and the winter coat and shoe project again this year, and she would like to see Wow Jam come back to the Picayune area.

The Pearl River County Neighborhood Watch meets the first and third Mondays of each month. They now meet at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Nicholson. After the elections, their meetings will move back to First Baptist Church of Nicholson.

For more information about the Pearl River County Neighborhood Watch, or for information about forming a neighborhood watch in another area, contact Gayenell Stockstill at (601) 273-1382.