Manna Ministries celebrates staff and volunteers with 20th anniversary

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Local nonprofit Manna Ministries celebrated 20 years of service Saturday with a roast of medical director Dr. DeWitt Bolton.

Manna Ministries began as a food bank in 1999 and opened a free medical clinic for uninsured patients in March 2005, said Executive Director Jameye Martin.

Many people told the organizers they would not be able to open a free medical clinic because of liability concerns, said Pastor Alan Hickman, but the clinic opened shortly before Hurricane Katrina and was able to help provide medical services during that natural disaster.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The nonprofit offers other free services to the community, such as after school tutoring and disaster recovery assistance. Recently Manna was able to help a family in Poplarville purchase a new trailer to live in after flooding earlier this year damaged their home, said Hickman.

Over 20 years, Manna has helped 8,500 families with food and given away $550,000 worth of food and clothing to Pearl River County residents. The nonprofit helped 10,680 families with needs like food, job placement and rental assistance after Hurricanes Katrina and Isaac.

The tutoring program has helped 550 students with reading and comprehension skills, and 4,250 people have learned financial literacy and computer skills through the utilities and rental assistance program. Manna’s housing counseling services helped prevent 89 home foreclosures.

The wellness programs have helped participants learn about health and eating and decrease elevated blood pressure, cholesterol and weight.

“Our passion at Manna is to take care of our community. These are our people,” said Martin.

The nonprofit earned more community respect when Dr. Bolton joined the organization in 2005, Martin said.

Bolton laughed with the rest of the room during the roast, and when he spoke he acknowledged the work of the nonprofit’s volunteers and staff.

“Every patient that comes into the clinic is treated with respect,” Bolton said.

At least 100 tickets were sold for the event at $25 each. Attendees also purchased raffle tickets and silent auction items. Proceeds from the event raised funds for the organization, but the nonprofit does not know how much was raised yet.