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New nonprofit wants to give local kids a safe place and community support

It takes a village to raise a child—that’s the philosophy behind a new nonprofit in Picayune, called the Village Strong Community Outreach Program.

“We’re community, that’s where the name came from. We’re family,” said Vice President Kourtney Nixon.

Members of the new nonprofit are working to give children more activities and opportunities, teach them life skills and to lead youth down the right path. Organizers want to offer children and parents community support. The recent incident where three Picayune boys were injured when a 13-year-old boy shot at them motivated the organizers to come together.

“We as adults, as parents have to do something about it,” said the group’s President Wanda Worley.

Organizers gathered Saturday to plan the nonprofit’s first steps. The first event will be a community prayer vigil at Leola Jordan Park at 2 p.m. on March 14. Attendees will be able to learn more about upcoming activities and how to volunteer with the nonprofit.

The group is offering a free self defense class for young women ages 12 to 17 on March 20 at noon. There were still 15 spots available as of Saturday. For more information on the self-defense class, contact Worley or Nixon via text at 601-347-1246 or 601-347-3717.

The nonprofit plans to offer more activities and events for young people going forward, including events specifically for young men.

“We want them to know that we’re here for them. That’s something I didn’t have growing up,” said Worley.

Worley personally faced hardships during her childhood including sexual abuse and being homeless.

“We want to end the violence and bring more positivity back into our community. We don’t want our kids to ‘be an example’ but instead ‘be THE example.’ This group is to empower one another and to give our kids a place to be free.”

The organization’s board includes Worley, Nixon, Secretary Treshay Quinn Simpson, Treasurer Kamesha Coleman and board members John Feaster and Donovan Quinn.