HATTIESBURG, Miss. - The legacy of late philanthropist Oseola McCarty influences the mission of a Hattiesburg youth center that carries her name.
“She just wanted young people to find something that they we’re really really good at and work hard at it, and they can live and make a living,” said Oseola McCarty Youth Development Center Executive Director and Founder, Janet Baldwyn.
The old school house serves as a resource site for Pinebelt children.
“We offer after school services, we do summer camps, we do monthly activities with the children. We pretty much have them year round, just keeping them busy and providing positive activities for them to make sure that we help these parents instill the right behaviors in them,”
Baldwyn shared that young people not only get help with school work but with life skills too. They learn trades like sewing, gardening and landscaping. However, after an EF-3 tornado damaged the center services slowed down to repair roofs, classrooms and windows.
“It has been a real challenge and a true test to our faith to get back up and going. We’re getting there, we were real fortunate to get some funding from FEMA to repair the room on our classroom space where we operate after school programs,”
Despite the set back, the center has been in operation for 15 years and she continues to see the light at the end of the tunnel as she serves a second generation of children.
“Some of the kids that started with me, when they were very small, they have graduated from high school, some in college and have graduated from college and I even have some of their children coming here now,”
She said the person that gives back, gets more than the one receiving and in this day and age, Pinebelt youth need help from leaders more than ever.