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JSU social workers open their hearts even during natural disasters

LAW Byline

Ahfiya Howard, interim chair of the Bachelor of Social Work department, aided in the collection of items for William Carey College, which sustained damage from a recent tornado. She was joined by Melvin McNair, a senior social work major and president of the Phi Alpha social work association.

Ahfiya Howard, interim chair of the Bachelor of Social Work department, aided in the collection of items for William Carey College, which sustained damage from a recent tornado. She was joined by Melvin McNair, a senior social work major and president of the Phi Alpha social work association.

After a deadly tornado zigzagged across South Mississippi late last month, tossing vehicles, uprooting people from their homes and severely damaging William Carey College, the School of Social Work in the College of Public Service at Jackson State University joined others coming to the aid of affected areas in the region.

JSU Social Work’s Phi Alpha Honor Society solicited supplies from faculty, staff and students to assist after the crisis. Among the items collected were notebooks, pens, paper and toiletries. Other products included baby supplies, canned goods and plastic containers.

Ahfiya Howard, interim chair of the Bachelor of Social Work department, said JSU staffers took supplies to Trustmark Park, home of the Mississippi Braves baseball team.

From there, the collections were transported to the University of Southern Mississippi, where items were housed for distribution.

A devastating tornado wreaked havoc late last month on a number of buildings on the campus of William Cary College in Hattiesburg.

A devastating tornado wreaked havoc late last month on a number of buildings on the campus of William Carey College in Hattiesburg.

Howard said, “Jackson State University and its social work department have a very good reputation of reaching out and helping the community. We especially provide a lot of services to homeless children. At JSU, it’s second-nature for us to reach out and help those in need.”

Bernice McKenney, an instructor and doctoral student of social work, agreed that JSU is no stranger to benevolence.

“The goodwill shows that, as social workers, we don’t exist in a vacuum. We respond to the needs of others. I encourage students to consider that while tragedy may have happened at William Carey College this time, it could be JSU the next time. So, we should assist in a time of need,” said McKenney, adviser of Phi Alpha.

Furthermore, she said, “With our honor society members, the kind acts are not just about grades but service outside JSU. We want well-rounded students because if you’re not reaching out to your fellow man by touching those in a time of need an education doesn’t mean that much. You must have a human touch as social workers.”