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20 years of Manna Ministries

What started out as a place for community members in need to receive food, has grown into a volunteer organization that provides even more services.

Manna Ministries Executive Director Jameye Martin started the organization in Oct. of 1999 after she and her father and brother discussed the need for a food pantry in the Picayune area. She said that during the discussion, her father said he felt people shouldn’t have to choose between paying bills and having food.

The first time she held a food pantry event at her father’s church 12 participants showed up, but it continued to grow from there. Today, the food pantry has been converted to a food delivery service for those who are homebound. She said that service also allows the volunteers to check on those individuals to see if they have other needs, such as heat.

With her background in nursing, Martin also saw a need in the community for health care for the uninsured. So, in 2005, the organization partnered with local doctors to provide that care one day a month. At first the free clinic allowed people to walk in, but now the demand is so great appointments are required and it’s offered multiple times a month in two locations.

The clinic is now offered on Tuesday and Thursday and on the second and fourth Wednesday of the month from 7:30 a.m. to about 2:30 p.m. at Manna Ministries in Picayune. There is also a clinic that operates out of the Lighthouse of Hope Church in Poplarville on the first and third Wednesday of the month from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Martin said Dr. DeWitt Bolton and a number of professional nurses who volunteer at the full service clinic can see to most medical needs, but the clinic does not have the capability to conduct X-rays or provide specialty care.

A dental clinic that focuses mostly on simple tooth extractions is also offered once a month, which also requires an appointment. Two local dentists, Dr. Jason Estep and Dr. Adrianne Penley, and some of their assistants volunteer to provide that care. Martin said the dental clinic is so popular, all dates are booked up until at least February.

With a limited number of paid employees, most of the services are provided by a pool of between 30 to 50 volunteers.

There are also mental health professionals who lend their expertise to those who need them, including a licensed counseling social worker and mental health provider.

“Without our volunteers we would not have a Manna Ministries,” Martin said.

Two years ago Manna Ministries added a thrift store to not only provide low cost items to those who need them, but also fund the various efforts by the organization.

Manna also provides a business incubator program where budding entrepreneurs can rent a space at the organization for $300 a month for up to a year. Staff also help that business owner develop a business plan and build on their leadership skills.

These are just some of the services offered by Manna Ministries. Others include exercise classes, health education classes and at times instructional classes are offered.

Manna Ministries is located at 120 Street A, Suite A in Picayune and can be reached at 601-799-2121 during business hours, which are Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.