JACKSON, Miss.—Putalamus White knew from a young age that her mission in life was to help people. “My mom tells this story: When I was a little girl, we were riding down (Highway) 80. She had just made some kind of pie for my aunt. There was a homeless person standing on the corner at the light,” White said.
White, a young child at the time, had noticed the man’s condition and wanted to do something—anything—to help. “I told her, ‘Mama, we got to give him something.’ And she said, ‘I don’t have any money,’ and I told her, ‘We got a whole pie!”
Holding up the pie, White told her mother they should give it to the man who appeared homeless. “So I gave the man my auntie’s pie,” she said, laughing. “My mom always tells that story.”
In 2008, years after passing her aunt’s pie to a man on the street who she did not know, White began serving meals to Jackson’s homeless and hungry at Poindexter Park. Every Sunday for nine years, she partnered with faith leaders to host church services in the park, where she preached, performed hymns and passed out meals.
“I thought the church was the only place you could do good like that. But the Lord laid it on my heart to start the church in the park and get out of the four walls of the church,” she said.
Today, White serves as the executive director of the Jackson Resource Center, an organization she founded in 2012 that not only houses those suffering from homelessness but also offers support to stabilize their lives. The Jackson Resource Center is currently comprised of a 30-unit, dormitory-style housing facility on Langley Avenue and the Yellow House, a communal maternity home for homeless girls and women aged 16 to 21 who are pregnant or have infant children.
Over the next year, White plans to expand the organization’s footprint with a 60-unit housing village and a social-services facility. White envisions a sprawling village to include transitional and permanent housing units, a gym, a communal kitchen, a pet
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