Volunteers hope to reshape community through love

Published 11:32 am Tuesday, May 17, 2022

For Memorial Day, a local community volunteer group will sponsor a 5K walk/run Saturday, May 28, from 8 a.m. to noon. Preregistration is now open until May 20. Proceeds from this event will go to funding a back-to-school drive and to the Veterans Administration Hospital.

The group, Consistency Beyond Limitations, was created by Michael Jenkins and Kychell Little, who wanted to help their community find the unity that seems to be lost these days.

The group wants to do things differently: Their back-to-school event involved unusual activities such as a bouncy house, a car show, water slides and vendors who came to show children their craft, not just their wares. Their Easter egg hunt April 17 kicked off with city aldermen attending.

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This volunteer group doesn’t want anything from anyone – they just want to make a difference in their own community. Period.

Let’s meet some members of Consistency Beyond Limitations.

 Michael Jenkins

With his sister, Kychell Little, Michael Jenkins started up Consistency Beyond Limitations in August 2021 with a definite purpose. “We went out in the community to find out how we can make it better,” he said.

“We want to create activities for both parents and children so both know we care. But we can only do so much as individuals. We put the group together, with people from different backgrounds and experiences, so that we can build on what’s needed and how to make it happen.”

Jenkins said his younger life was filled with getting in trouble. It wasn’t until he was in school at Hazlehurst, where kids were required to wear uniforms, that the competition he felt he faced was finally a moot point. “That little thing, that one thing, eliminated so much strife among the kids, including me,” he said. “I was trying to keep up with the next person, but that little thing changed my life.”

After being away from this area for almost 20 years, Jenkins returned to care for his mother. A truck driver by trade, he hopes his group can bring parents and kids together with events that seek to engage the two in projects that deal with cooperation. Lessons would help children understand what a work ethic is, how to setup a bank account, and even how to check out a book at the library each week and then give a summary on the plot.

“We are starting out small by building relationships,” he added. “We need to meet with and talk to as many people as we can. A lot of people see dollar signs when it comes to volunteer groups. I see relationship building.”

Nancy Kelly

Nancy Kelly of Brookhaven is a licensed social worker who has been employed with the Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services for the past 12 years. She has been volunteering with this group for the past four months.

“In my volunteering, I focus on child well-being,” she said. “This is my focus because my professional training has been child welfare and my personal passion is helping children.

“I want kids to know that there are choices for every action they take in life, whether good or bad. I want to focus on good choices and having them see that there is so much opportunity for them to become productive and successful members of society.

The group is planning multiple events through the year, including a summer workstudy program where they plan to mentor teens ages 13-16 with a focus on life skills to help them become better adults.

“We know that there will be challenges, but we hope that the community accepts our efforts to seek change and become positive role models for the youth,” she said.

Kychell Little

“We’d like to see more positively around the family,” said Kychell Little, Jenkins’ sister. “We want to capture the development of the family and have the atmosphere we used to have growing up.”

Little, 34, said it’s great to have community leaders out there making a difference, but they can’t do it alone. Nor should they.

“Leaders are hurting,” she said. “They need that energy and hope. There are a lot of people hurting. I hope our team brings back that fire [from before]. I know I’m the root and I want the dirt. I want to help us all grow.

“We have to correct children so they understand right and wrong. [And to teach them] don’t be a repeat offender – learn from it.”

She said she wanted to be in the community making a difference, but not to cause conflict. “We are not going to take away anyone’s shine – we have to get that love in our community and we have to work at it at home, too.”

Tra Collins

Tra Collins, 39, joined Consistency Beyond Limitations because his best friend, Jenkins, told him about it. “I was born and raised in this community and if everyone leaves, it’ll never get better,” he said. Like Jenkins, Collins attended Loyd Star, and he’s traveled a lot of places. He now services as a firefighter here.

“We can help by bringing a lot of love,” he said of the volunteer group. “When you love something, you take care of it. It’s no different with a community.”

Collins described walking into a local restaurant and seeing an entire family group sitting at a table – each member looking at his or her own phone and not “seeing” the person sitting right next to them. “We’ve all got to work together as a team and unite,” he said. “Unite our community with love and attention.”


Shandra Weathersby

Shandra Weathersby, 41, has worked for a nonprofit for 15 years, and her heart for community stretches for hundreds of miles. She knows all about kids feeling disconnected.

“When it comes to our kids, showing them attention helps them not act out,” she said from her new home on the east coast. “I think a lot of kids act up because they just want some attention. We have to help them to the right path by being role models.”

Weathersby believes so much in this volunteer group’s work, she continues to be a valued member via Zoom, even after she took a new nonprofit job in Charleston, S.C.

Brookhaven is her home – now and forever – and she said she plans to continue her attention to the families and needs during monthly visits..

All she – and the other volunteers – plan to keep in mind is that love and attention goes a long way, no matter who you are or where you are.

When you care, it helps others care.