Since moving to Texas in 2003, Paula Jernigan says people are what she loves best about being here. “I have been amazed at the generous nature of the people I have gotten to know,” said Jernigan, who is the executive director of the Mid-Cities nonprofit Mission Central. Jernigan recently announced she will retire as the agency’s head at the end of March.
She first got involved with Mission Central by participating in a women’s group at her church that had monthly meetings with clients served by the agency. There she spent a couple of years learning firsthand about the challenges faced by low income residents in her community.
“Some of the women in the group were working women attempting to make ends meet, others were raising grandchildren, some had disabilities and/or someone in the household who needed acute care,” she said.
So in the spring of 2010 when the executive director position opened up, Jernigan applied for the job and was hired. After 25 years in high level positions at Mississippi State University, she definitely had the chops. Her experience working with volunteers, managing budgets and projects, writing grants and raising money prepared her exceptionally well for her ‘second’ career. Jernigan jokingly said “her past and present converged” when she joined Mission Central eager to continue the work of providing life-enhancing services for people in Hurst, Euless, and Bedford.
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Under Jernigan’s leadership, the agency has flourished as they operate a village pantry, a monthly mobile food pantry, and a community resource center that connects people to agencies who can help meet their needs. They offer after-school tutoring in their Village Library, and their newest program is called STEPS (Self Transformation Equals Personal Success.) A linchpin in Mission Central operations is the Coat of Many Colors Resale Shop that is managed almost entirely by volunteers and provides affordable clothing and household items for local shoppers.
“Paula is the epitome of a servant leader,” said Catherine Hollis, Mission Central Director of Volunteer and Community Relations. “Her top priority has always been to provide compassionate, dignified service to our neighbors.”
“As an Executive Director, there’s never been a day that wasn’t packed with meetings and deadlines, but when she walks in the front door, she always takes time to sit down next to our food pantry guests, ask them their name, and ask them about their day. Her commitment to our mission and the people we serve has helped us grow to a point where we are serving more than 30,000 people each year.”
Since she began, Jernigan has seen the value of goods and services that Mission Central provides in the community grow from $564,000 in 2010 to almost $1.6 million in 2016 and credits the success to generous donors and supporters.
“In addition to increased financial support, we have grown our volunteer base to almost 300 volunteers who work week in and week out to provide assistance to individuals, families and children,” Jernigan said.
Jernigan said her favorite part about her job was the relationships with the clients — those who come to the Resource Center, the students who were tutored, the customers who donate and shop at the resale shop, and the neighbors who receive food from the mobile panty. Equally important, she said, was getting to know and work with the wonderful staff, board and volunteers.
“I am grateful for the opportunity I have had and appreciate those who have worked so hard to empower people to improve their own quality of life. It’s been a great experience,” Jernigan said. Her advice for her successor: “Approach the work of the agency with great passion, and the community will respond in kind.”
Rebecca Barksdale honored with Distinguished Leadership Award
Accolades were heaped on Tarrant County Precinct 3 Administrator Rebecca Barksdale recently when she received the Distinguished Leadership Award from the Northeast Leadership Forum during the group’s annual awards luncheon in Keller. The organization is a non-profit for business and community leaders that focuses on the local economy and community well-being.
“We are honoring Rebecca for her relentless and selfless service to our community throughout Northeast Tarrant County,” said Haslet Mayor Bob Golden, Chairman of the Northeast Leadership Forum. “For over 20 years, she has clearly personified how leaders participate in their communities. I have been impressed with her involvement through several chambers of commerce and a broad variety of non-profits. Not only has Rebecca played a leadership role, but she has also inspired others to step forward and make a difference in their own communities and organizations.”
The Distinguished Leadership Award honors an individual whose “commitment to making a difference through outstanding leadership shines brightly and most obviously deserves recognition.”
Golden praised Barksdale for the broad scope of her participation in community programs that include chambers of commerce, arts groups, Metroport Meals on Wheels, Girl Scouts, A Wish With Wings and Mid-Cities Care Corps to name only a few.
Ciera Bank President Charlie Powell, a former recipient of the award, said about Barksdale: “I have been so impressed to see how Rebecca has gone from being the new kid on the block 20 years ago to now becoming one of our most respected and admired leaders, who now mentors emerging leaders herself.”
“Rebecca makes big things happen. Working with Tarrant County Precinct 3 Commissioner Gary Fickes and Carolyn Sims, she played an important role in the creation and management of Empowering Seniors, which now attracts over 2,500 attendees. She is also highly involved in the Commissioner’s Northeast Tarrant Transportation Summit,” Powell said.
Congratulate Rebecca at: RBarksdale@tarrantcounty.com and learn more about this organization atwww.neleadership.org/.
Deadline to Apply for Youth Programs and Scholarships is Feb. 16
Colleyville Woman’s Club will continue its 23-year tradition of honoring young people for their community volunteer efforts at a spring awards event. The club is now seeking nominations for youth awards and applications for scholarships.
Anyone can nominate a child between the ages of 5 to 19 who attends school in most areas of Northeast Tarrant County for the youth volunteer service awards that the Colleyville Woman’s Club awards each spring. Awards are judged in four age groups and each award may recognize several nominees.
The club’s Spirit of Youth volunteer grants program also offers grants to area seniors based upon on a high school history of volunteer service.
“In addition, CWC’s Circle of Hope and Dick Dennison Memorial scholarships are need-based scholarships that benefit seniors at five specific high schools,” said spokeswoman Carol Wollin. Recipients of the awards, grants and scholarships will be honored at the organization’s Caring With Commitment Celebration in May.
Criteria for the awards, including nomination and application forms, is available at www.c-w-c.org. Contact Paula McCollough at 817-358-1805 to inquire. The deadline for submission for all programs is February 16.
Kick-off party for Art in the Square has music, art, food and reveals charity beneficiaries
A crowd is expected at the Sunday, Feb. 18 reception hosted by the Southlake Women’s Club in the foyer of Southlake Town Hall at 5 p.m. where guests will enjoy music and refreshments as they get a sneak peak at the artwork of featured artists for the Art in the Square festival this spring.
The big reveal at this event is the announcement of the 2018 beneficiaries of funds raised by Art in the Square. The art show, now in its 19th year, has raised more than $2.5 million for local charities.
Tastings at the free event will be provided by local restaurants, and the Northeast Orchestra Brass Quintet will entertain guests. Attendees can also be the first to cast their vote for the People’s Choice artist. Voting continues through April 1.
Save the dates April 27-29 to attend Art in the Square. Details coming soon to www.artinthesquare.com/.