Page 1








Behind the Scenes at


Get to Know Several Outstanding Child Life Specialists


The Heart of Flora Triathlete's Tales Fresh Avocado Recipes FEBRUARY 2015 | 1

Main Street Café (601) 879-7100 4832 Main Street

Blue Rooster

(601) 879-3289 4822 Highway 22

Four Great Reasons to Visit Downtown Flora

Bill’s Creole & Steak Depot 2 |

(601) 879-7296 471 Railroad Aveenue MADISON COUNTY MAGAZINE

The Gin at Flora Station

(601) 941-5350 4819 Highway 22 |

FEBRUARY 2015 | 3


LIFE OF LEISURE 10 Shopping Stay Happy & Healthy 13 Music Waka Winter Classic 14 Food Heart Healthy Avocado Recipes

SOUTH BOUND 22 Child Life Specialists Tugging at your Heart Strings


IN EVERY ISSUE 7 Editor’s Letter A Happy Heart

photo by Alexandra Anthony

32 Fifty Years of Life, Love and Laughter

30 Events


Confête Events specializes in day of coordination, partial & full service wedding planning, calligraphy & custom invitations.

ɤ Emily Sanders, owner ɤ 601.717.2216 |


Joey Lee, and his wife Casey, swim the “Race Around the Rock” in the San Francisco Bay surrounding Alcatraz. This race is only one of the many extraordinary feats accomplished in his life.

FEATURES photo courtesy Joey Lee








Behind the Scenes at






Get to Know Several Outstanding Child Life Specialists


The Heart of Flora Triathlete's Tales Fresh Avocado Recipes

On the Cover: A colorful mural inside Batson Children’s Hospital. Photo by Price Rosson

Rebirth of Flora Due to the Heart of its People

Full of Love for a Lifetime

FEBRUARY 2015 | 7

Community SBoard


County Maga n o zin is d a e’ M


Madison County Magazine has a



give a way from Abbye Grey!

Go to our Facebook page, like and share our featured Kneipp Bath Salts and Oils to be entered in a drawing for a chance to win!


TAG US AT #madcountymag



Keep us involved with Madison County and you may be a part of the next issue!!








FEBRUARY 2015 PUBLISHED BY The Madison County Journal PUBLISHER James E. Prince III ASSOCIATE EDITOR & PUBLISHER Michael Simmons EDITOR Price Rosson LAYOUT & DESIGN Rachel Browning CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS David Wiggins CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Duncan Dent ADVERTISING ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE Alexandra Anthony (601) 853-4222 ADVERTISING DESIGN Rachel Browning, Godfrey Jones Madison County Magazine is a monthly supplement to the Madison County Journal designed to promote Madison County in an informative and positive manner. We welcome contributions of articles and photos; however, they will be subject to editing and availability of space and subject matter. Photographs, comments, questions, subscription requests and ad placement inquiries are invited! Return envelopes and postage must accompany all labeled materials submitted if a return is requested. No portion of this publication may be reproduced without written permission of the publisher. The opinions expressed in Madison County Magazine are those of the authors or columnists and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher, nor do they constitute an endorsement of products of services herein. We reserve the rift to refuse any and all advertising. Subscribe to the magazine by subscribing to the Jounal,, or call the office at (601) 853-4222 © 2010 Madison County Publishing Company.



ebruary is once again upon us. A month often short-lived and full of concerns of the heart. February, year after year, is devoted to both the literal heart and the figurative heart. It comes at a good time. New Year's resolution vigor is becoming more of a burden as we continue to dive head first in the still new year. Even though it is a short month, February is a good time to refocus on the heart. Focus on remembering why we love the ones and things we do and focus on maintaining a healthy heart. This issue is pumped full of the hearts that beat full of love and friendship here in Madison County. Although we have always known there are health benefits to an avocado, the American Heart Association has recently emphasized their health benefits in maintaining cholesterol. We have a couple recipes to help incorporate this heart healthy fruit in your diet. We dig deep into one man's heart and his life-long love of running, triathlons and what the sport has brought him throughout his years. A true heart-beating full of motivation, while his feet beat the pavement. February would not be complete without a look back at over 50 years of love, life and the Lord shared between a couple that calls Ridgeland home. We share with you a few things that have really impacted my heart from my time here in Madison County. Flora was always my small-town cut through from the Delta I took headed into Madison to see the man that stole my heart. The small town ambiance had me from hello. Over the years, I have fallen even more in love with this Mississippi town situated in the northwest part of the county. Through the magazine I have made so many friends that call Flora home to add to the list of the few I already had that love their home. There is definitely something special at the heart of the community that keeps on pumping. Lastly, a piece that is sure to tug at your heart strings. For about a year when I first moved to the area, I volunteered at Batson Children’s Hospital alongside the Child Life Specialists. I was immediately filled with inspiration and awe at the jobs these fine people take on day to day. I am sure that you will do the same. If this issue does not make your heart happy, you should probably check your pulse.


Much love, friends! FEBRUARY 2015 | 9


Growth in

FEBRUARY 2015 | 11

SHOPPING Stay Happy & Healthy Speck Phone Cover w/ cardholder

This phone cover is an easy way to hit the streets and always be prepared, in case you need to make a pit stop.

4-In-One Avocado Tool

Peeling, pitting and mashing. No matter the task this tool is perfect when prepping this heart healthy fruit. Williams-Sonoma

My Custom Yoga Mat

Customize your yoga mat and call it your own for a personalized piece of workout gear each time you hit the gym.


Contigo Autoseal Water Bottle w/ Pocket Keep it all together while staying hydrated when making a trip to the gym. With a holder for a key and card this water bottle has you covered.

*Kneipp Herbal Bath Rescue Kit

These highly concentrated oils will benefit the body just as the salts do. Try out this set of 6 to pick your favorite for relaxation and soothing the muscles and body. Abbye Grey

Happy Plugs

The cutest plugs in over 15 different colors will make you happy when it’s time for that daily cardio.

*Kneipp Bath Benefit Kit

The benefits of salt baths go back to ancient times. This assortment comes with several kinds to benefit your body from deep sleep to balance and joint and muscle relief. Abbye Grey

LuluLemon Headbands

The perfect headband for those heavy workouts is guaranteed to stay in place and keep away those fly-aways. LuluLemon at Highland Village

*Go to our Facebook page, like us and share our February giveaway from our new featured store in Gluckstadt, Abbye Grey! FEBRUARY 2015 | 13




photo courtesy Ardenland

Ardenland will be hosting a leg of the Waka Winter Classic, a battle of the bands style competition that will pit five local bands against each other for a chance to play a gig at this year’s Wakarusa Festival June 4-7 in Ozark, Ark. Wakarusa Music and Camping festival began in 2004 with 5,000 attendees and has steadily built steam, rising to prominence, specifically in the southeast. Duling Hall is set for the February 26 event. Bands can submit themselves for consideration at Reverbnation. com with $10 admissions fee. Submissions end February 5. Wakarusa and Reverbnation will pick four out of the five contestants for each cities contest while the host, in Jackson’s case Ardenland, will select the fifth contestant. Wakarusa and Reverb will select their four contestants based on musicality, originality, social network presence and projected draw. The venue’s pick is up to their discretion, but are encouraged to pick an act that is “mutually agreeable.” Jordan Harris from Ardenland said that they are honored to host the event. “We’re really excited that Waka Winter Classic chose to come to Jackson. It gives our great and talented local musicians a shot at playing Wakarusa 2015. Pretty Awesome!” The event is one of many in cities around the nation including Denver, Austin and Memphis. Come out and support local talent as they vie to compete on stage for a chance to perform at a premiere music festival in beautiful Ozark, Ark. Patrons of the event will receive a raffle ticket to vote for their favorite band at the event. Tickets are $10 and available at

FEBRUARY 2015 | 15


o d a c Avo

n a e B k c & Bla di p

3 easy steps!


In a large bowl, combine the jalape単os, garlic, onion, salt & black pepper, to taste

2 3

Add the beans, green onions, lime juice, and oil. Toss to combine.

Fold in avocado and cilantro.


fresh ingredients 2 jalape単os, remove seeds and chop 1 small garlic clove, chopped 1/2 medium white onion, chopped salt, to taste black pepper, to taste 1 can low sodium black beans, drain and rinse 2 green onions, chopped 2 tbs fresh lime juice 1 tbs olive oil 1 avocado, diced 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

From the Kitchen of Sherry Toler

follow these steps 1 2

Bring a pot of slightly salted water to a boil. In a medium sized sauce pan melt your butter, add 1/4 cup of olive oil and 2 tbs of minced garlic, then add the shrimp and cook until pink.


In the same pan add 1/4 c of white wine of your choosing and a cup of Zataran’s seasoning. Let the shrimp simmer for 5-8 minutes.


use these ingredients

2 pounds of shrimp ½ stick of butter ½ cup of olive oil 2 tbs of minced garlic ¼ cup of white wine Zataran’s liquid shrimp and crab boil 16 oz. of tortellini 4 tablespoons of pesto sauce 1 pint of cherry tomatoes 4 cups of fresh spinach 1 fresh avocado 2 tablespoons of Feta cheese crumbles Fratesi’s Italian dressing (or any light Italian dressing) 1 tablespoon of sunflower seeds

o d a c o Av mp & shri

i n i l l e t tor

Add tortellini to the boiling water with 2 tbs of olive oil. Let boil for 11 to 13 minutes, stirring occasionally.


Once the pasta is cooked drain the water and place in a large bowl. Stir in 4 tbs of pesto sauce and add salt and pepper to taste.


Quarter the cherry tomatoes and add to the bowl of pasta and pesto.

7 8

Dice the avocado and add to bowl.


Pour Fratesi’s Italian dressing over the mixture and add the sunflower seeds.


Serve and enjoy! Save the leftovers and enjoy cold as well.

photo by Alexandra Anthony

Add 4 c of fresh spinach, 2 tbs of feta cheese crumbles, cooked shrimp (drained from the sauce it was cooked in) and fold ingredients together.

FEBRUARY 2015 | 17


photos courtesy Chip Estes

top left: A postcard from the Mississippi Ordnance Plant. top right: One of the original factories built to make gunpowder bags. Some of the remains still stand today. bottom: Flora Mann-Jones, wife of W.B. Jones, for which the town of Flora was named.

photo by Price Rosson

opposite page, top: A view of Main Street in Flora today. below, left to right: The beginning of the restoration in the ‘90s.; The Old Havana Cigar Bar before Chip Estes restored it.; Much of the downtown was boarded up after years of vacancy.; Many of the buildings had been covered in tin until it was removed to reveal the original architecture full of character.



Around 1881, the land which eventually became Flora was settled as a train depot town for the Illinois Central Railroad. With hopes of having a track that ran parallel to the Mississippi River, the railroad was built through Flora and into the Delta, north towards Memphis and eventually into Chicago. As the builder of the railroads acquired land during these days, they often named the new establishment after someone from the area. Since the land was acquired from W.B. Jones, the town was appropriately named Flora, after his wife, Mrs. Flora Mann-

Jones. Eventually the town was incorporated and downtown Flora – which still stands much like it did – was built in support of the railroad and the area farms. Times gave way to the Great Depression, and even though there may not have been a lot of money going around, the heart of Flora’s people sustained each other. “We may not have had a nickel in our pocket, but we never went hungry,” Mr. Jack remembers. These were simpler times, yet filled with mounds of memories. Over coffee, Mr. Jack

photos courtesy Chip Estes


am proud of what we have. I’m proud of the place that I’ve lived for all these years,” Mr. Jack Childress declares over his weekly breakfast, coffee and conversation with a group of men at Main Street Café in Flora. The oldest living original resident of Flora has seen the ups and downs of this small Mississippi town for over nine decades now. Business comes and goes and comes and goes again, but there is one thing that everyone, including Mr. Jack, is quick to tell you when asked what is the heart of the town. Without hesitation, it’s the people. “

FEBRUARY 2015 | 19

As the ups and downs continued, Flora came back swinging in the ‘60s and ‘70s, welcoming with open arms several industrial companies to the area mostly due to the leadership of then-bank owner Frank Simpson, Sr.. Ultimately, Flora was home to several large-scale manufacturers, including Magnavox, Regal Ware, and MRS Tractors and several others that combined to employ several thousand people while the Town of Flora’s population was less than 1000. The town was booming as the workers would come in to deposit checks, shop, eat and pass the time. Downtown Flora was anchored by a wonderful restaurant named Martin’s Restaurant, which attracted people from all over Mississippi with their oyster and other Cajun specialties. Located where Main Street Café stands today, each day the owner, Mr. John Martin, would come in and holler in his thick South Louisiana accent, “I’m the best Cajun in Flora!” He’d pause for a minute, “Because I’m the only Cajun in Flora.” Growing up during this time was a young Chip Estes, son of the builder, developer, and later mayor. Mayor Fred Estes, Sr. had obtained the mayoral seat due to the passing of the previous mayor, but that is a story for another day. Times, they were a-changing. Eventually as the industry left, so did the plethora of people. The ‘80s and early-90s were hard times for the town. Several of the downtown buildings burned, were torn down, or were boarded up. The authentic detail and original architecture were giving way to Mother Nature. However, the signs of the determination in the heart of Flora’s people are endless. Presley Posey, longtime Flora resident and author of The Flora Book: A History of the Town of Flora and Southwest Madison County, Mississippi, remarks, “Without Chip, I’m not sure if we would still have a downtown.” But Chip is quick to comment, that it is definitely a joint effort with others, such as the late Odie White (who joined with Grady Howell to save the Main Street Café

Bill’s, originally the Club Alice House of Blues, was restored and continues to be great place to gather for good food with good friends.


photo courtesy Chip Estes

photo by Price Rosson

recalls several stories of what he and his friends called, “playing out.” One of the funniest Flora tales happened on Halloween. Mr. Dan Fore lived on what is now First Street in Flora and he had a milk cow out back in the pasture. Several of the young boys, including Mr. Jack, led the gentle cow to Mr. P. F. Simpson’s front porch and chained it to the columns. When asked what happened next, Mr. Jack laughed, saying, “I don’t know, we ran!” The young boys also liked to play tricks on the local store owners by soaping the windows of the local storefronts. Even though some would care, Mr. Jack laughs, recalling, “Mr.Virgil Stegall, would not mind, because he said it was the only time that his windows would get cleaned.” The Great Depression eventually gave way to World War II. Many of the boys left town but the war also brought a boom to the town of Flora. In 1941, the town was set to build the Mississippi Ordnance Plant at Kearney Park. The original intention was a bag packing plant for gunpowder, but it almost immediately after construction was complete turned into a place where the troops were trained for the war. Thousands were employed during the construction stage and over ten thousand troops were stationed at the converted Ordnance Plant until the end of the war. As the war ended, Flora once again took a hit, setting the town back into a valley of its life.

Café building), the Flora elected leadership, and many of the town’s people who remain vigilant in keeping Flora’s genuine sense of community and place. In the -90s, Chip moved back to Flora and began buying land and properties that were literally falling to the ground in order to restore and maintain the town in which he was born and raised. Today, Flora is once again on the rise. A Renaissance one may call it. Industry is back in town with businesses such as Primos, Monsanto, Green Tool & Dye and the latest addition to the area, Salad Days, with their hydroponic green houses and a cutting-edge concept with the best of the best local produce. Flora is also home to Two Dog Farms, which takes the idea of farm to table to a whole new level. The downtown area is at full-capacity, housing specialty retail, including Corner Market, and offices for all that one may need, such as H&R Block, Farm Bureau, the Old Havana Cigar Company, a grain trading company and even Mindy McKay Morton, attorney at law. The town also offers several options to fill you up and show you a good time in good company. Main Street Café, has the best breakfast, cup of coffee and plate lunch in town. Bill’s Creole and Steak Depot specializes in just that. Unbeatable steak, seafood and crawfish on this side of the Big Black. The Blue Rooster’s burgers are by far southern comfort by way of a burger at its finest, with “the Flamethrower” voted the best burger in Mississippi Everyone in Flora is swift in saying, what we love about Flora is the small town feel that is hard to find in many places. Wide open spaces, several acres, a horse,

photo by Price Rosson

photo courtesy Chip Estes

photo by Chris Todd

The Blue Rooster was an old Laundromat before restored to what it is today.

a cow and a tractor. Room to roam among good people with the same values. That is the appeal of Flora. Mr. Jack laughs, “I liked Flora when there were 500 people.” Chip continues, “ From the community meetings that have been held over the past decade or so, the desire of the area residents expressed is to manage the growth and not sacrifice quality of life for maximization of rooftops.” “We’re much like a Mayberry, everybody knows everybody, and everyone takes care of each other” Mr. Jack explains while finishing up his coffee. The ups and downs of small town America are ever so evident in Flora, Mississippi. Through the dedication of those who call the Flora area home, this small town has emerged to become one of the most sought after addresses in Madison County. The town has changed from a manufacturing-based economy to more of a bedroom community, but it still holds true to the genuine roots, nuts, bricks and bolts that have stood the test of time. As the change will come and go, Flora will always have the one thing that keeps the heart of town beating ever-so steadily, the colorful characters proud to call it home. Flora will always have its people.

Jack Childress of Flora FEBRUARY 2015 | 21


A TriAthlete’s Heart

Full of Love For A Lifetime by Price Rosson


oey Lee began running alongside his father at ten years old. As a young child, he never would have imagined what this hobby turned a lifelong love would give him. Through the pits and peaks of traveling this winding road of life, this sport has given him an outlet for many things. In his words, “I do not think I would be here without it.” Triathlon is his sport and running one of his loves and with hundreds of events under his belt, he aims to run well into his 90s. Already a runner, a competitive swimmer since the 8th grade and often commuting to his summer job as a lifeguard on a bike, this combo created the perfect trifecta. A friend mentioned to him an upcoming event. Always up for a challenge mostly within himself, Joey signed up for what would become the first of his lifetime. In 1987, Joey completed the River Cities Triathlon in Shreveport, La. with his father by his side. To this day, this particular competition is still one of his favorites. Now in his 28th year of competing in triathlons, he has covered a lot of ground. A few of his favorites include the Crawfish Man in South Louisiana, especially “the moment they hand you your pint as you cross the finish line,” he laughs. He also enjoys the race and party that is the Mullet Man at the Florabama Lounge in Gulf Shores. The Heatwave Classic is another favorite which played a above: Joey Lee on the finishing bike leg of River Cities Triathlon. left: Joey Lee completing his first triathlon, the River Cities Triathlon alongside his father.


photos courtesy Joey Lee

huge role in bringing him to the metro area. Aside from the triathlons in the Southeast, Joey has accomplished several other notable and extraordinary races throughout his career. After the loss of his first wife from a two year battle with cancer, Joey needed an outlet which his love of running gave him. Joey made the commitment to run the Marathon des Sables, a 150 mile run in the Moroccan desert. Throughout his year of training Joey raised $100,000 for the American Cancer Society. Later in life while training at the reservoir, he met his second wife, Casey, with whom he now has his pride and joy, his daughter. Alongside Casey, Joey swam the Race Around the Rock, a swim around the infamous Alcatraz island off the coast of California. With his family, wife, daughter, mother and father, Joey completed the Boston Marathon the year of the bombings. An extraordinary story in itself, Joey told himself he was just going to run “easy” that day. Upon the start he was feeling good and kept up a strong pace throughout the race. This pace allowed him to finish in around 3 hours and 22 minutes. The “easy” pace would have set him at four hours, the moment when the bombs went off, which would have been exactly where his family was standing. The Lee’s were gone top: Joey and his and safe, but the Daugther, Ginger, finish atmosphere after a 5k in Oregon this past the race was unlike fall. any other he had Bottom: A feeling of success completing the ever experienced. Marathon Des Sables Usually high spirits after 7 days and 150 and swapping miles in the Moroccan stories about the desert. day's performance, the city was silent. When asked for advice, Joey is firm is staying, “Don’t cheat yourself!” He continues, “Be consistent in training and don’t dive in head first. Dip your toe in and work your way up.” For someone who has accomplished so much, what’s next you ask? Other than racing well into his 90s, Joey says, “I want to pass my love of running on to my daughter. We got her a stroller and she is already pushing it from the side instead of behind it.” Chances are he is well on his way. “If I can do that, I am done,” Joey says and smiles. Joey finishes reflecting on all that triathlon has given him in life, “It gave me focus when I was struggling in college, has given me most of my life long friends, an outlet for aggression and grief when my wife was sick and passed away, the sport has given me my pride and joy in my wife, Casey, and daughter, I have learned goal setting and hard work. Finally, triathlon has given me a work ethic and taught me how to achieve things.” Hitting the streets has carried this man miles and miles on a journey that is just now set in its prime. Going on 37 years of passion for this sport, Joey Lee still has many miles left to go.



CHILD LIFE SPECIALISTS Tuggin’ at your Heart Strings photos by David Wiggins


diagnosis for an illness is terrifying enough for adults, but for a child the fear and uncertainty through developmental stages in life will present obstacles and worries that cannot be met in an adult hospital setting. Batson Children’s Hospital, much like other children’s hospitals, puts the focus on the child, not the illness or diagnosis. Aside from the medical care, Batson has a team of Child Life Specialists who provide psychosocial and emotional needs to children and their families through education, medical play, special events, procedural support, distraction, therapeutic play, legacy building, bereavement support, and school re-entry. This team of exceptional people is responsible for letting the kids be kids and sharing laughs and smiles during what is possibly the scariest times in their little lives.


JOELY MUSGROVE Child Life Specialist Pediatric Step-Down Unit; Palliative Care

2 years

Why did you choose Child Life as a profession? I chose Child Life as a profession because one of my family members had a little girl who was very sick and while at the hospital we had a Child Life Specialist who was there for our family and helped us through that hard time. After that I knew that Child Life was what I wanted to do. I wanted to be there to help and support the children and families. What keeps you smiling? Getting to see, interact, and help patients and their families’ every day. If I can make someone’s day better and brighter then it makes me smile to know I have helped them. What tugs at your heart strings the most? When you have a child or a family member tell you how much they appreciate you, the work you do, and how helpful you have been to them through their experience at the hospital. What is your favorite event or activity that helps to share smiles? Pet Therapy is my favorite event our department puts on. Seeing the smiles on patients and families’ faces when they see the therapy dog is priceless. A lot of our patients have dogs of their own at home so when they get to interact and see a dog while they are in the hospital it provides a sense of normalcy that they otherwise would not get. It brings a little bit of home to them while at the hospital. What has been the most moving moment in your work life? Part of our job as a Child Life Specialist is being there for the family when a child passes away. One of my most memorable/moving

moments was when a co-worker and I did handprints for a patient’s family. We made a memory canvas with her and her parents handprints all together. The family was so grateful. This provided the family with comfort and it also allowed them to take a little piece of her with them. What is the most out-of-the-box wish or activity that you have made happen? I had a patient who had never been on a boat or fishing before. So we lined up a pontoon boat and he got to ride around the reservoir and fish. He was so excited and so tired from the field trip he fell asleep at the Mexican restaurant with food in his mouth. It was a great day! How do you incorporate learning and development into your activities? Every child is going to be different in the way that they learn and develop. You have to come up with activities that are geared towards that child and that will help their learning and development skills. The activities also have to be fun and keep him/her interested. Whether it’s doing medical play on their baby doll or playing a board game with them all activities can be fun and geared toward learning and development. If you had one wish for your area of speciality here in Mississippi and at Batston, what would it be?I with that Child Life was a better known and respected field in Mississippi. Child Life Specialists do amazing things and help patients and their families every day. We get overlooked sometimes and we are a very important part of the healthcare team.

FEBRUARY 2015 | 25

His wishes were to feel better, to go home, and to have his own Why did you choose Child Life as a profession? I lost my best Christmas tree. I knew that his first two wishes would come true friend two weeks before her 21st birthday. It was very difficult to with in time. So, I was determined to make his third wish come lose someone that I loved so much at such a young age. At that time true. Thanks to the wonderful donors contributing money to our in my life, I was aspiring to become a nurse. I knew that I wanted to Child Life Fund I was able to buy him a Christmas tree for his be in a profession, in which, I could make a difference. Doors closed room. So, yes wishes do come true! Thank you again to everyone for me with the nursing profession and then opened for Child Life. I who contributes to Child Life! knew right away as I learned more about this profession that it was right for me and that it was love at first sight! I have always enjoyed How do you incorporate learning and development into your activities? Developmental aspects are very important when working with children. I feel like my love for children and the loss of teaching a patient about his/her diagnosis or about upcoming my best friend drew me closer and closer to this profession. I wanted medical test or procedures. The more information we can gather to be able to go to work every day and make a difference in the lives about our patient the better we can aid our patients in the learning of children undergoing hospitalization. Every day I wake up and ask process. A patient can learn when he/she does not feel scared, myself, “How can I make a difference today?,” and at the end of the intimidated, or threatened. A patient must feel safe in in order to day when my work is done, I know that I have made a difference. I learn effectively. Child Life Specialists are your child’s “special love my job whole heartedly and no other job fulfills my heart like hospital friend” while undergoing hospitalization. Once Child Child Life does. Not too many people can say that they love their Life Specialist establishes trusting relations, then the education job and look forward to going to work every day! process may begin and patient may learn about medical diagnosis What keeps you smiling? My patients keep me smiling! It is all of or upcoming tests/procedures in words that he/she can understand, the little things in life that keep us going! according to the patient’s developmental level. Trust is a key What tugs at your heart strings the most?When I lose a patient ingredient prior to education. Development must be incorporated it tugs at my heart. My patients are like family to me. I have learned into everything that a Child Life Specialist does every day. Child something from each and every patient that I have ever lost. It Life Specialist are experts in development. You would not teach a makes you learn to appreciate life and to never take it for granted! four-year old about an IV the same way you would a ten year old, What is your favorite event or activity that helps to share so understanding development is a very important aspect of Child smiles? I enjoy making my patients smile by: singing, dancing, Life. Honesty is also of great importance when educating patients. blowing bubbles, wearing silly hats and glasses, and making rock Child life Specialist teach not only about the diagnosis, test, or bands. Just being goofy! procedure but we teach what the patient may see, hear, smell, feel, What has been the most moving moment in your work and taste. It is important for the patient to understand what is going life?The most moving moment in my work life was when I became to happen to them before it happens, this aids in stress reduction for a Child Life Specialist. My kids touch my heart! everyone. What is the most out-of-the-box wish or activity that If you had one wish for your area of speciality here in you have made happen? My patient was a 5 year old male, Mississippi and at Batston, what would it be? My wish is for undergoing hospitalization for several months. All he wanted was to every patient that is admitted to Children’s of Mississippi, no matter get better so he could go home. We went on a sight-seeing adventure what illness or disease, to be able to be treated, cured, and to be off of the 4th floor to the Methodist Rehab wishing well. I gave able go home and live a happy healthy life. And to find a cure for the patient three pennies to make three wishes in the wishing well. Cystic Fibrosis!

PEPPER WEED-COOPER Child Life Specialist PEDS; General Medicine

6 years


Certified Child Life Specialist Children's Cancer Center

6 1/2 years

Why did you choose Child Life as a profession? When I was younger my best friend had a brain tumor. I remember how hard it was on her to be sick and how hard it was for me and all her other friends to truly understand what she was going throughwe were only around 11 and 12 years old. I remember seeing her for the last time at the hospital and thinking, "I want to do something to help people like her. I want them to feel loved, supported and cared for in as many ways as possible." I especially wanted to be a person that could help kids and their families feel a part of their care.. to have a voice. Child Life does exactly that. What keeps you smiling? Right when I feel like I am overwhelmed, it never fails; one of the kids will walk up and smile or give me a hug. they give ME a hug? Wow! What little angels they are! How could I not smile?:) What tugs at your heart strings the most?Knowing that I can only help to a certain extent really tugs at my heart strings. I can't change the fact that a child has relapsed with cancer or that mom just lost her job because she has been at the hospital with them everyday. That's really hard to accept. What is your favorite event or activity

that helps to share smiles? There are a lot... lets see, I will have to say the fall carnival and being Santa's Elves. I like to see the kids doing things they love and being able to hold a carnival for them where they dress up and act silly warms your heart. A lot of people don't even think of this but when Christmas comes some kids don't get to go home. I love being able to be a part of a program that brings Christmas to them in their hospital beds. When Santa walks in their rooms and we get to see their faces light up... there is nothing like it! What has been the most moving moment in your work life?As a Child Life Specialist there are many moving moments. Some are harder to talk about than others. One of the most moving moments I have personally experienced, would have to be when I was able to sit around a patient's bed with her family and nurses and hold hands while talking to her and praying over her. She passed the next day. I was so honored to have been a small part of her life. What is the most out-of-the-box wish or activity that you have made happen? Oh my let's see, Child Life Specialists do what we call "medical play" to help desensitize the kids to medical equipment. This is especially true when they are having a hard time with certain things. I had one little one that did not like syringes-didn't want to see it, touch it or hear about it. We made a target and wrote all the things she disliked about being in the hospital on it. Then we filled the syringes with water and aimed at the words. Before I knew it she was laughing so hard she didn't even realize she was touching the syringes anymore. We did get in a little trouble for getting her room wet...oops! How do you incorporate learning and development into your activities? The main thing is to make it fun and engaging by using things the kids can relate to and enjoy. For instance, if you are teaching a child about Sickle Cell you can shape the red blood cells out with playdoh. Let the child show you which is a normal shaped cell and which is a sickle shaped cell. This engages the child in conversation about their disease and empowers them with information. If you had one wish for your area of speciality here in Mississippi and at Batston, what would it be?Can I have two wishes, please??? 1. That more money in this world would be spent on researching a cure for childhood cancer. 2. I would also love for more people to become educated on blood disorders that affect kids today. Hopefully, this would encourage others do donate more money for research so these disorders can be cured as well!


Child Life Specialist Inpatient Hematology/Oncology Unit; Bone Marrow Transplant Unit

4 years

Why did you choose Child Life as a profession? I always knew that I wanted to work with children but wasn’t sure in what kind of setting. After lots of research into different fields (and changing my major three times), I discovered the Child Life field. I had medical procedures done as a child that to this day I still remember as very traumatizing, and building a career in a field that helps alleviate those fears and stressors of kids who are hospitalized sounded incredibly rewarding. I started as a volunteer at Batson within the child life department almost ten years ago. I knew then eventually I wanted to work here! I interned at a children’s hospital in South Carolina and was officially hooked on Child Life. After working in a children’s crisis program in Northeast Mississippi, I found my place as a Child Life Specialist at Batson. What keeps you smiling? Watching kids be kids! I love to see my patients run up and down the hall pretending to be Batman. To listen to the laughter coming out of their hospital rooms. To see them having fun at our birthday parties, playing with one of our pet therapy dogs, dancing in the Activity Room, playing house, playing doctor, just PLAYING! Knowing that the Child Life department is able to help build a normal environment in a very abnormal setting for kids to just be kids --to help them learn and cope through play— to make happy moments in hard days--that makes me smile!! What tugs at your heart strings the most? When a child accomplishes something that they thought they couldn’t, whether that be walking after a surgery, taking a medicine or swallowing a pill, making it through a difficult procedure, making new friends in a scary place, or coping with changes to their bodies from treatment. Anything a child thought they would never be able to do or were scared to try then realizing that they had the skills and the courage to do it themselves—my heart could just explode!! I love celebrating those achievements with our patients and being able to turn the can’ts into cans! What is your favorite event or activity that helps to share smiles? My favorite activity and Child Life intervention is 28 | MADISON COUNTY MAGAZINE

definitely medical play. Medical equipment can be so scary in a child’s day to day hospital life. Medical play is a therapeutic tool that we use to present the equipment in a nonthreatening manner to help kids get used to materials and to do something fun with something that can be scary. It is also an excellent activity to help kids learn about the things they often encounter in their experiences. Examples include syringe splatter painting, water play with syringes, making an art collage or band-aid art, writing a poem or song about the hospital, making a “blood soup” recipe to learn about sickle cell disease or leukemia, using real medical equipment to mirror a child’s own procedures—starting an IV or accessing a chemo-port with a port needle on one of our therapy dolls—these activities with Child Life supervision allow a child to learn more about his or her treatment, help kids develop a coping plan to use in their own experiences, and to have fun doing it! What has been the most moving moment in your work life? It seems like the most moving moment of my work life happens every day; I have so many moments and memories! Making a breakthrough with a child who may have been withdrawn, angry, or regressing after a new diagnosis. Being with a child and family through an initial diagnosis and following the family throughout the entire course of treatment—to be present through the fear, the anger, and the whys at the beginning, to see them develop confidence as they go through treatment and turn into a source of support for other families who are going through the same things, and to see them reach the other side—to not see a patient for sometimes years and then to get a surprise visit—and they are back in school, their hair has grown out, they have a boyfriend or girlfriend, and they are just living and loving life—THAT moves me to happy tears!! What is the most out-of-the-box wish or activity that you have made happen? As a Child Life Specialist, we help families cope with a diagnosis, a procedure, a surgery, a child’s fears, a parent’s fears. And sometimes we help them deal with grief. There is a moment I had with a precious child and family that is marked on my heart forever. This particular child had reached the end of his life here on earth, and I was present to provide support to his family and to help them say goodbye. Part of what we do in our field is provide legacy building activities for family during end of life care. Sometimes that is through photography sessions, through making handprint molds, or working with siblings. In this case, we wanted to do some kind of fingerprint art or hand mold. I will never forget gathering around this child’s bed—with his family and close friends—and making clay thumbprint heart ornaments—making half of the heart with his thumbprint and the other half with his family members’ thumbprints—symbolizing the bond and love between them that will last forever. There were many tears and there was laughter. There was the sharing of many memories. This was several years ago, and to this day, those family and friends have those ornaments. Not too long ago, I ran into a family member of this patient. It was a tearful but joyful reunion, and I was told that “We will always be family, no matter how much time passes.” Batson and Child Life create meaningful bonds that last forever. How do you incorporate learning and development into your activities? Every single activity we do as Child Life Specialists is based on child development—it is the basis of our program. We assess our patients and meet them where they are in their development. This often means tweaking activities to meet their needs and abilities and to challenge them at the same time. Play has purpose. Play is the foundation of that we do. Children learn, cope, and thrive through play. And knowing a child’s development helps us help them as much as we can. If you had one wish for your area of speciality here in Mississippi and at Batston, what would it be? My ultimate wish, hope, and dream for my patients on my unit at Batson is that one day the words “sickle cell disease” and “cancer” will no longer exist. My one wish for my area of specialty is a CURE.

Why did you choose Child Life as a profession? I was at home, trying to figure out which profession I would like to get my Bachelor’s Degree in when my Aunt Margaret called. She said she found the perfect program for me, Therapeutic Recreation, which is offered at USM. I decided to go to USM and meet with one of the professors (Rick Green) and my career goal suddenly came together and made sense! I was elated and could not wait to take on this wonderful journey! I have now been a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist for 11 years! What keeps you smiling? Being able to find that one special activity for each of the patients that makes them forget where they are and why they are here. They begin to smile from ear the ear and that achievement keeps me smiling! What tugs at your heart strings the most? Seeing these children battling illnesses that some think only older people get. These children come in needing an array of services for serious diseases, including all types of cancer. Many patients fight each day hard as they can just to get through to the next day. What is your favorite event or activity that helps to share smiles? My favorite event where several smiles are shared is Batson’s birthday parties! Child Life is a part of planning and implementing birthday parties in which all children and their visitors are invited whether your birthday falls in the present month or not. Special guests such as Miss. Mississippi join us to autograph and pose for pictures with our patients here at Batson. What has been the most moving moment in your work life? One of the most moving moments in my life was the first time I took a group of patients to the movies. Some had never seen a movie theater

before due to various illnesses they had acquired. Walking in, their eyes light up, excitement kicks in and they are off to explore the lobby! When they finished watching their first movie there was so much to be discussed! Such a small token equals smiles, happiness, excitement! What is the most out-of-the-box wish or activity that you have made happen? Taking a group of patients on an overnight camping trip. I planned the entire day and night full of exploring, games, food and fun. How do you incorporate learning and development into your activities? Children’s minds are like sponges. Soon as they learn a new skill it sticks with them. The activities are geared towards each individual patient’s likes. As for development, patients learn gross/fine motor skills, gain cognitive development, social skills, leisure interests, etc… If you had one wish for your area of speciality here in Mississippi and at Batston, what would it be? Many people ask what I do for a living. When I say Recreational Therapist, the normal reply is “So you go to work to play all day”. My wish is for employees and the general public to better understand exactly what my job entails. First I do an assessment, speaking to each patient one-for-one. I stem from that to get a feel for what they enjoyed doing prior to this hospitalization. Next, is trying to meet that patient’s needs and also use gross/fine motor skills to improve their physical health. Lastly, I aim for the patient to be able to continue those activities to the best of their ability by their discharge date. Patients are also informed on where they can find and access their leisure interests in the Greater Jackson Area. Of course each patient can’t leave without smiles for miles!

JESSICA MANN Recreation Therapist for Child Life

11 years

FEBRUARY 2015 | 29

Why did you choose Child Life as a profession? Unfortunately choosing Child Life was not my choice, it was more so of a blessing. In my instance, learning of Child Life was introduced to me while volunteering at Blair E Batson Children’s Hospital in January of 2014. I had no idea that after I had received my Bachelor’s Degree at Alcorn State University that I would have become an employee at Mississippi’s only Children’s Hospital. Being blessed with this job opportunity has thus far been one of the greatest blessings of my life. I’m indeed grateful. What keeps you smiling? The idea of being around children eight hours a day keeps me smiling. Nothing feels greater than giving emotional support to a mother/father who cannot find a grasp of hope; to embark on a patient and their family’s life, granting them faith that God specializes in the impossible, even when it doesn’t seem possible. What tugs at your heart strings the most? To see a motherless child that has been neglected or abandoned for unbearable reasons is one of many things that can possibly tug my heart the most. It melts my heart to see an infant longing for emotional support. Whereas, nothing is even more heartfelt than seeing patients’ eyes gloom so bright after given assurance that everything is going to be ok. What is your favorite event or activity that helps to share smiles? My favorite event is during Christmas when Santa visits every pediatric patient in the hospital. Christmas brought so many smiles during trialing times. Even the sickest child smiled, and to know that Child Life is one of the reasons they were smiling, makes my heart smile. What has been the most moving moment in your work life? I’ve been working at the Children’s Hospital for seven months and the most moving moment in my work life is being introduced to Child Life during my volunteering experience. Being introduced to Child Life has brought about so many changes in my life. Working with “my babies” every day brings so much joy to my life, and makes me appreciate life even more. What is the most out-of-the-box wish or activity that you have made happen? It would be initiating myself as a motherless child’s parent. This patient was a heart stealer, he definitely had stolen mine. After becoming knowledgeable of his diagnosis, I became fond of him. Every morning I awake, my mind was on my King. I was his mother, at least in my mind I had thought so. I bathe, clothed, and fed him. Nurses didn’t have to do anything until I left, and when I came back the 30 | MADISON COUNTY MAGAZINE

next day, the routine repeated for weeks to come. I had thought about becoming a foster-care parent because I was convinced he was mine. I had fallen in love with an angel, it was then when reality hit me. The day the nurses discharged him, I wailed. I felt heartbroken, because I knew with no doubt in my mind he was mine. As I secured him in his car seat, tears flooded my face, as his laughter impounded my ears. He had transformed into a “new baby.” I watched him grow, but I had to let him go. I think about him each and every day. It wasn’t ordinarily an out of the box wish, but if I could do it all again, I would.

How do you incorporate learning and development into your activities? Learning and development is imperative in child development. Therefore, in my activity room, the majority of activities are selected are exemplified through hands on activities, as well as through play. If you had one wish for your area of specialty here in Mississippi and at Batston, what would it be? My wish for Child Life Department is to expand Child Life to other areas of the hospital. I think Child Life should go beyond the Children’s Hospital. It should touch all areas of Child Development, both adult and children.

ATRICE M. KING Child Life Assistant Child Life Department

7 months

Why did you choose Child Life as a profession?While in college when I was introduced to recreation therapy from a classmate, I decided that it would be a perfect fit for me and that I was being called to do it. What keeps you smiling? Seeing the smiles on children’s faces after they finish therapy. What tugs at your heart strings the most? The determination of the kids to get better and to be as independent as possible despite their illness or disability. What is your favorite event or activity that helps to share smiles? Helping a child learn or relearn a favorite game or play activity. What has been the most moving moment in your work life? Teaching a five-year-old quad amputee how to swim and seeing the smiles on her face when she was able to swim by herself for the first time. What is the most out-of-the-box wish or activity that you have made happen? Taking five teenagers to a MC Hammer concert. How do you incorporate learning and development into your activities? By making sure the activity is fun and therapeutic and the child is interested in trying it. If you had one wish for your area of speciality here in Mississippi and at Batston, what would it be? That more people would realize how important play is in a child’s growth and development and especially in a hospitalized child’s life.

ERIN WILLIAMS Child Life Specialist Child Life Department

1 1/2 years

Why did you choose Child Life as a profession? I was introduced to Child Life at the age of 15 after being diagnosed with a heart condition. My Child Life Specialist helped me tremendously through the surgery process and my hospitalization. I was inspired by her and knew from that moment that i wanted to be a child life specialist so that I could help other children through the difficult times that they face while in the hospital. What keeps you smiling? Being able to go to a job that i love and work with such amazing children is so rewarding. My main job is to reduce stress for children while they are in the hospital and being able to take their bad day and making it a little bit better definitely keeps me smiling. What tugs at your heart strings the most? It really tugs at my heart strings when my patients come back to visit me and I get to see their improvement and how proud they are of themselves for coming so far. What is your favorite event or activity that helps to share smiles? My favorite event would have to be Christmas Eve when Santa comes to see the children. When Christmas comes around, we are not only the Child Life Team, but also Santa's Elves. It is so awesome to see their faces light up when Santa comes in with their bag of toys. What has been the most moving moment in your work life? Being able to watch these kids everyday and see how resilient they are is very moving. If I had to pick one moment, it would be a patient I had not long ago. She was a younger child who was very sick and wheel chair bound. I was doing my rounds one morning and stopped by her room to check on her. She said she was going to come play in the activity room later and out of no where she smiled and said "I just wanted to tell you that I am praying for you". The fact that she was laying there

facing some pretty big obstacles herself and she was still thinking of helping others was so moving to me. She was always smiling and just had such a great outlook on life, it really inspired me. What is the most out-of-the-box wish or activity that you have made happen? We do many different things you would not normally think of dong while in the hospital. From therapeutic cooking to painting with syringes or going on a field trip to the helicopter pad, we try to make it the best possible experience for the kids while they are at Batson. No matter how out of the box their request might be, we try to make it happen and make it fun. How do you incorporate learning and development into your activities? Most of the children I work with on my floor are surgery patients. One of my main jobs is preparing children for surgery by explaining it to them in a way that they understand. Children learn differently at different ages, so I use age/developmentally appropriate methods to help them to better understand what is going on with them and to familiarize them with the hospital setting. If you had one wish for your area of speciality here in Mississippi and at Batston, what would it be? My wish for the child life profession is that more people would become familiar with it and that it would grow throughout the state of Mississippi; not only in hospitals, but in other clinics that serve the pediatric population. These experiences can be so traumatizing for children and I feel that child life is an essential part of the healthcare team.

BRUCE BEAL Child Life Recreation Therapist

35 years

FEBRUARY 2015 | 31

EVENTS FUN-RAISERS FEBRUARY 7, 7:00 P.M. Bacchus Ball benefitting Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi Country Club of Jackson FEBRUARY 12, 4:30 P.M. Valentine Play-Doh Party Ridgeland Public Library (601) 856-4536 FEBRUARY 14, 10:00 AM Polarpalooza Polarpalooza in its first year will consist of a polar plunge in honor of the Special Olympics of Mississippi. The day will also consist of music by the North Mississippi Allstars and a chili cook-off. Register today for this frosty dip! Madison Landing on the Barnett Reservior (601) 856-7748

photo courtesy Ardenland

FEBRUARY 17, NOON TO 3:30 P.M. NAMI Mississippi Day at the Capitol Mississippi State Capitol (601) 899-9058

FEBRUARY 21, 7:00 P.M. Ignite the Night: Under the Big Top! Mississippi Children’s Museum

FEBRUARY 28, 10:00 A.M. Dr. Seuss Silly Birthday Celebration Mississippi Children’s Museum



The Dixie National Livestock Show & Rodeo Rodeo: FEBRUARY 12-18 Livestock Show: JANUARY 24 - FEBRUARY 24 Mississippi Coliseum

JANUARY 31-APRIL 19 Civil War Era Drawings from the Becker Collection Mississippi Museum of Art | (601) 960-1515

FEBRUARY 24 - FEBRUARY 28 “It’s About You Film Festival” Various Jackson Locations

FEBRUARY 5, 8:00 Moon Taxi Duling Hall | (601) 292-7999

FEBRUARY 28 - MARCH 1 Chinese Spring Festival Promoting local economy and development through increasing the public’s awareness of cultural diversity this event will celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year with a parade, cultural and gourmet fair, New Year Gala and fireworks. Downtown Jackson

FEBRUARY 7, 7:30 P.M. Spectrum - A Tribute to Motown and R&B Las Vegas’ award winning Motown/R&B vocal group join the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra for an electrifying walk down memory lane presenting classics of the Temptations, Four Tops and many more. Thalia Mara Hall | (601) 960-1565


The men of “Moon Taxi” come to Mississippi performing at Duling Hall on February 5. 32 | MADISON COUNTY MAGAZINE

“Spectrum - A Tribute to Motown” will be held on February 7 at Thalia Mara Hall.

THEATRE, OPERA & BALLET FEBRUARY 17 - MARCH 1 One Man, Two Guvnors New Stage Theatre | (601) 948-3533

photo courtesy Mississippi Symphony Orchestra

FEBRUARY 21, 7:30 P.M. Bravo IV: Brahm’s Third Thalia Mara Hall (601) 960-1565

FEBRUARY 9, 7:30 P.M. George Winston proceeds benefit Friends of Hudspeth Duling Hall | (601) 292-7999 FEBRUARY 13, 9:00 P.M. Fides with Mississippi Shakedown and the Tallahatchies Hal and Mal’s | (601) 292-7999 FEBRUARY 14, 9:00 P.M. Get Lovey Dovey with Buddy & the Squids and Friends Duling Hall | (601) 292-7999 FEBRUARY 19, 8:00 P.M. The Apache Relay Duling Hall | (601) 292-7999 FEBRUARY 20, 9:00 P.M. Hattiesburlesque Duling Hall | (601) 292-7999

FEBRUARY 21, 8:00 P.M. The Revivalists Hal and Mal’s | (601) 292-7999 FEBRUARY 22, 2:00 (3RD SUNDAY EACH MONTH) Mississippi Old Time Music Society Mississippi Craft Center (601) 942-7335

FEBRUARY 23, 7:00 P.M. Mississippi Opera’s Cabaret Duling Hall (601) 960-2300

BOOK SIGNINGS & READINGS FEBRUARY 11, 5:00 & 5:30 P.M. Miss Hazel and the Rosa Parks League by Jonathan Odell Lemuria Books FEBRUARY 19, 5:00 & 5:30 P.M. My Sunshine Away by M. O. Walsh Lemuria Books

FEBRUARY 25, 7:30 P.M. The Voice Recording Artists: Jordy Search and Kensington Moore Hal and Mal’s | (601) 292-7999

MARCH 3, 5:00 & 5:30 P.M. Before He Finds Her by Michael Kardos Lemuria Books

FEBRUARY 26, 8:00 P.M. Waka Winter Classic Duling Hall | (601) 292-7999

MARCH 4, 5:00 & 5:30 P.M. Where All Light Tends to Go by David Joy Lemuria Books

FEBRUARY 27, 7:30 P.M. Lucero + Ryan Bingham Hal and Mal’s | (601) 292-7999

FEBRUARY 2015 | 33

photos courtesy MeLisa Waycaster Steward



n December 20, 1964, Gwyn Waycaster and Dot Howard exchanged vows while the two were home on Christmas Break. Gwyn at Mississippi State University and Dot at Mississippi University for Women, the two sealed their love that began during their days at Nettleton High School. Gwyn, a football player, and Dot, his number one cheerleader on the sidelines, the two have a love that has stood the test of time. Upon graduation from their colleges, Gwyn accepted a position as a cost accountant at Rockwell International and Dot became a fifth grade teacher in Tupelo. In 1978, the Waycasters entered the ministry and pastored Methodist churches in Amory and Kosciusko before attending RHEMA Bible Training Center in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. After graduating from RHEMA, the couple pastored non-denominational churches in Vicksburg, McComb and eventually landed in Ridgeland. They also worked with ministries in Fort Worth, Texas and in Jackson. The Waycasters debuted The Living Word television ministry in 2001, a program reaching thousands through cable, satellite and the internet. The couple now resides in Ridgeland and celebrated their Golden Anniversary on December 20, 2014. Gwyn and Dot Waycaster have a life well-lived, sharing in love with many over the years. The couple have one daughter and son-in-law, MeLisa and Keith Stewart of Madison. A love that began in high school has flourished and shared with so many other for over 50 years now — a relationship deeply rooted in the Lord that continues to grow and share a hope of 50 years more.


50 Years



by Price Rosson

FEBRUARY 2015 | 35


February 2015 Issue  
February 2015 Issue