Mission work opportunities abound at Sacred Heart Southern Missions

By Laura Grisham
WALLS – Like many other non-profits, Sacred Heart Southern Missions (SHSM) in north Mississippi relies on volunteers to achieve its mission. They play key roles in the organizations outreach programs. Last year, nearly 3,800 people came from near and far to help Sacred Heart Southern Missions. These generous individuals donated close to 23,000 hours of service. The time worked equating to approximately 11 full-time employees.

More than 1,200 people have come to volunteer since the beginning of 2024. The organization has a number of regulars who help out daily at their food pantries and social service offices. Many local businesses, churches and schools support SHSM by working in mobile food pantries, prepping meals at the Garden Cafe, assisting at the thrift store and making deliveries.

High schools, college and church groups from across the country travel to Mississippi to help out as well. They come for days or weeks at a time to help with one of SHSM’s bigger areas of service: home rehab.
There is never a shortage of projects that need attention. There are so many people who have no means to make repairs or are too frail to maintain their homes. Without the time and talent of our volunteers, these needs would remain unmet.

WALLS – Students from St. Matthew in Virginia work to construct a wheelchair ramp for Benjamin, who became disabled after a large limb fell on him. (Photo courtesy of Laura Grisham)

From ramps, roofs and rafters to doors, floors, tubs and tile, and everything in between, many critical home repair projects have been checked off the proverbial to-do list through the hard work of volunteers. But often, they leave with greater gifts than the ones they gave.

A number of families and individuals have been blessed by the arrival of volunteers over the past months. Benjamin is one of those individuals. He worked in the tree trimming and removal business until a gigantic limb fell, striking him on the head, breaking his neck and back and cracking his skull.

In March, students from St. Matthew in Virginia were tasked with the construction of a wheelchair ramp so that Benjamin could enter and exit his home easily in his electric wheelchair. Working alongside their skilled chaperone, the young people raised the level of the front porch to the front door and built out a ramp with a gentle incline. The project helped restore some of the mobility Benjamin lost a little more than a year ago.

Critical repairs are always on the horizon and new groups are being signed up regularly to help out. Recently, Valero Refinery sent several skilled workers who joined a student from the University of Memphis to tackle a roof for Wayne, an elderly client in Nesbit. The group made quick work of the project, completing it in three days. “You have no idea what gratitude is,” said Wayne as he patted his chest. With tears in his eyes, he said, “Thank you so-so much.”

Program staffers have been busy assessing client homes and preparing for the next wave of large volunteer groups, and parishes in Northwest Mississippi are also teaming up for a Summer Immersion week of service.

More groups are welcome, visit https://bit.ly/VolunteerSHSM for more information about volunteer projects, lodging facilities available for volunteers or to donate to help with projects.