Success story demonstrates need for veteran housing program

By Chamon Williams
GREENWOOD – Catholic Charities’ Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program is continuing to provide assistance to the veteran community within the Diocese of Jackson. One of the challenges has been finding adequate housing in the more rural parts of the state. The program has offices located in Natchez, Jackson, Greenwood and Vardaman. Through the support of Father Gregory Plata, OSF, pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary and St. Francis of Assisi Parishes, Catholic Charities is able to have a presence within the Mississippi Delta Region. Melissa Ivory is the Delta Region Case Manager housed at Immaculate Heart of Mary.
On February 6, Ivory met Mr. Ballentine, a 59 year old male from Tallahatchie County. He initially contacted the SSVF program after losing his job and discovering he was ineligible to draw unemployment.  Although the federal government shutdown had the SSVF program on hold for a while, Ballentine did not give up hope.
In the initial visit, Ballentine, was not living in the most stable home. When he ran out of propane, he used electrical heaters and removed the oven door to warm his home. To help with his delinquency in rent, the client offered to help his landlord with much-needed work to his home and other properties.
Due to the conditions of his current home and wanting to have a safe environment to spend time with his son, Ballentine decided that he wanted a place to call home where there was warmth, character, and beauty.
“Through the SSVF program, we have been able to give Mr. Ballentine a ray of sunshine through his seemingly dark journey. After having his home burglarized, we assisted with getting his ID card to obtain a copy of his social security card, birth certificate and car tags,” said Ivory.
Ballentine was very dedicated and proactive about finding a new job, even visiting a former employer who helped him secure his delinquent driver’s license. He is currently working on his CDL to return to truck driving. “In the meantime, he has secured a job with the local saw mill working six days a week. He has moved into a remodeled three bedroom mobile home and is very ecstatic to have his son visit and decorate his own room,” said Ivory. Mr. Ballentine desires to be a motivational speaker/mentor for the youths in Tallahatchie County and hopes to bring more activities/programs to help bring a more positive image to his hometown.
The SSVF program is funded in part through a federal grant from the Veterans Administration aimed at finding stable housing for veterans and their families.
Those wishing to assist with donations of money, clothes and materials can contact Michael Thomas at Those who have rental property in the Delta who would like to offer it to the program should contact Chamon Williams at Both can be reached at 601-355-8634.
(Chamon Williams is a program specialist with Catholic Charities, Inc.)