Friends help promote Sunshine Shelter

Published 5:00 am Thursday, September 27, 2001

A special birthday celebration was held Tuesday night in aneffort to ensure more children in Lincoln County celebrate theirbirthdays with joy.

Local residents enjoyed cake and other desserts while learningmore about ways to help needy children during a dessert and coffeehosted by Friends of the Sunshine Shelter.

“The idea is that each child deserves to see their next birthdaywithout abuse and neglect,” said Emily Henderson, a Lincoln Countyrepresentative on the Sunshine Shelter board.

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Gail Healy, administrator of the Sunshine Shelter, has beenworking with Henderson and board member Barbara Sproles to informlocal residents about the importance and effectiveness of thechildren’s emergency shelter in Natchez.

“I want the people of Brookhaven to know about the services weprovide and how essential we are,” Healy said.

Many people do not know about the home since it has only beenopen for about two years, she added.

The Sunshine Shelter is non-profit organization that serves 14counties, including Lincoln County. It is the first and onlyemergency shelter in the area referred to as Region V.

Sunshine Shelter is licensed by the Mississippi Department ofHuman Service to provide a temporary safehaven for children inabusive situations.

“It provides emergency shelter for children from new born to 12years old while their case is being investigated or until they canfind a suitable home,” Henderson said.

Sunshine Shelter can house as many as 12 children right now, butsoon that number may increase, Healy pointed out.

“The city (Natchez) has just received a $250,000 grant for theexpansion of the Sunshine Shelter and we hope to extend to 18,” shesaid.

Natchez Juvenile Court Judge John Hudson was excited to hearabout the expansion because he has seen how important the home hasbeen in the lives of countless children.

“No children are more at risk than those who do not have a safeplace to live,” he said.

Several local residents have already joined the effort to givelocal children happy memories, instead of ones filled with fear,sadness, anger and confusion.

Pathfinders, a women’s mission group from Mt. Zion BaptistChurch, has donated numerous items, such as clothing, diapers,washing detergent and snacks, to Sunshine Shelter.

“We saw they had a need for volunteers to help furnish thingsfor them, so we decided that would be some of our monthlyprojects,” Earline Allen, a member of Pathfinders, commented aboutthe group’s efforts.

The group has enjoyed the chance to help the children so much,Allen added, that they are planning a picnic for them inOctober.

Friends of Sunshine Shelter hope more Lincoln County residentswill want to become involved in the effort.

Anyone wishing to find out more about the Sunshine Shelter maycall 833-4366 or 445-8665.