By Joanna Puddister King
GREENWOOD – On Friday, Sept. 22, a ribbon-cutting ceremony marked a significant milestone for Healing Hearts Family Counseling, a drug prevention program aimed at adolescents in Leflore County. The event was celebrated with enthusiasm as the program opened its doors in the former St. Francis of Assisi Catholic School.
When Wanda Thomas arrived as executive director of Catholic Charities of Jackson in 2019, she recalled receiving numerous calls from communities across the state, seeking assistance in filing gaps in services. To address those short-falls, Catholic Charities conducted a comprehensive assessment, looking at areas that needed support, while considering available resources, said Thomas.
The Delta region emerged as an area in critical need of assistance, backed by years of data and statistics. In 2022, an opportunity presented itself to Catholic Charities in the form of a grant designed to prevent substance abuse within the adolescent population. Recognizing the connection between substance abuse drug addiction, mental illness and an elevated risk of suicide, Catholic Charities seized the opportunity to provide these essential services.
The establishment of Healing Hearts Family Counseling and the unwavering support for Catholic Charities of Jackson highlight the community’s collective efforts to combat substance abuse and make a lasting, positive impact on the lives of adolescents and their families in Leflore County.
Jackie Lewis, program director of Healing Hearts shared a unique feature of the program with The Greenwood Commonwealth, stating that interactions through the program can occur at the program’s office, the family’s home, or in any other suitable location.
The program is also actively reaching out to adolescents and their families to provide crucial support and education on the dangers of drug abuse through engagement with local schools. The Greenwood Commonwealth reported that Healing Hearts completed a 12-week program at Delta Streets Academy and has plans to initiate similar programs at other schools within the Greenwood Leflore Consolidated School District.
Expressing gratitude for the support they receive, Thomas praised Catholic Charities supporters and volunteers. She remarked, “We are thankful for our supporters and volunteers who do not hesitate to reach out and roll up their sleeves to walk this journey alongside us and serve God’s people.”
Lewis says of the program, “at the end of the day, it’s not about what you have accomplished personally.”
“It’s about whose life you have made better.”
For those interested in reaching out to Healing Hearts Family Counseling, the program is located at 2615 US 82 East in Greenwood and can be reached at (601) 355-8634 for more information. With its commitment to the well-being of adolescents and families in Leflore County, Healing Hearts represents a vital addition to the region’s efforts to combat drug abuse and promote healthier communities.