By Maureen Smith
JACKSON – Knights of Columbus throughout Mississippi hold Tootise Roll drives during the year to raise money for people with intellectual disabilities. It may seem like a small gesture, but when all the knights join forces, their work has a substantial impact.
On Tuesday, July 11, Jim McCraw, the past state deputy, presented a check to Hope Haven at Catholic Charities headquarters in Jackson. Hope Haven is a residential program for teens in crisis. It offers temporary shelter as well as counseling and a way for families to get back on track.
The donation could not have come at a more perfect time. “Each year Knights’ councils nation wide host fundraising drives for people with intellectual disabilities – the tootsie roll drive is kind of our mainstay — and the councils in Mississippi do the same thing,” said McCraw. “Seventy-five percent of what the council raises goes back to an agency of their choosing, but 25 percent of that money is pooled together collectively and the board of directors identifies 501c3 agencies throughout Mississippi that we fund,” said McCraw. “This year, with the budget cuts that have happened, particularly in the area of mental health we felt like this Hope Haven program is a very worthwhile thing to get some of that money so we set aside $2,500 to go to that,” he added.
Michelle Hamilton is the program director for Hope Haven. She explained that the service aims to be a turning point for young people and families facing mental health crises. “They stay for 14 days at a time. We are a crisis residential so they come and receive individual and group therapy and then they move on to a longer-term placement,” said Hamilton. In addition to treating the teens, counselors offer sessions with the parents while the teens are staying at Hope Haven. Once the 14 days are done, counselors don’t just release the teens, they work with the family on the next appropriate step. It might be a different in-patient program or out-patient counseling or perhaps a counselor will make home visits.
This way, the teens and their families have a new path forward.
This year has been hard for all Mississippi mental health programs because of drastic budgets cuts coming from the legislature. “General funding by Medicaid has been cut and it has greatly affected us. Currently we have seven residents, so we are full,” said Hamilton.
Hope Haven is just one of many programs at Catholic Charities facing steep cuts. Directors hope to maintain as many services as they can, but many of these programs are already working on lean budgets. “We don’t like to turn anyone away,” said Amy Turner, director for childrens’ services. Learn more about Catholic Charities programming on their website, www.catholiccharitiesjackson.org.
By Maureen Smith