LifeSet grant

BancorpSouth presented a $7,500 check to Youth Villages for its LifeSet program Friday, Jan. 14, 2022. Pictured, from left, is BancorpSouth Community Bank president Gary Sparkman, Youth Villages Assistant Director Paige McCormick, Christian Dixon, Shauntissa Dixon and BancorpSouth Tupelo retail manager Ketra Ruff.

TUPELO • Former foster care youth will receive housing assistance thanks in part to Youth Villages’ LifeSet program and a $7,500 grant from BancorpSouth to bolster the program.

The bank presented the organization with a check for the donation during a ceremony, Friday, at the nonprofit’s Spring Street location in Tupelo.

Located in 23 states nationwide, Youth Villages has been helping children and families live successfully since 1999, according to their mission statement and Paige McCormick, assistant director of Youth Villages. McCormick is part of the Jackson office.

The organization provides intensive, in-home family therapy. Its LifeSet program will help young people aging out of foster care transition successfully. The organization assists with basic needs, therapy, and meets with participants weekly.

“This program, and why we’re here today, is really exciting because we have partnered with the Tennessee Regional Valley housing authority and CPS for FYI (foster youth independence) vouchers,” McCormick said.

BancorpSouth began its partnership with Youth Villages when the organizations met in Jackson over two years ago, said Tupelo retail manager Ketra Ruff. Youth Villages shared its plan to provide assistance to foster youth who age out of the program and are “still needing that helping hand when they go out on their own,” Ruff said.

“BancorpSouth was happy to become part of that,” Ruff said.

BancorpSouth’s grant will be used to help youth who are aging out of foster care and are either homeless or at risk of becoming homeless in the Tupelo area. It will go towards helping young adults like Shauntissa Dixon, who was the second in the state of Mississippi to receive a FYI voucher. She is the first recipient of the funds from BancorpSouth, which were used to help pay and secure her housing, McCormick said.

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After Dixon aged out of the system on her 21st birthday in August, she became homeless. Since she had worked with Youth Villages in the past, she applied for assistance.

It took about a month to get approved and an additional week to get the necessary paperwork, Dixon said. Last week, she was finally secured housing in Tupelo.

“It was exciting to have my own place,” Dixon said.

She’s looking forward to raising her son, 10-month-old Christian. The Lifeset program grant helped cover the security deposit for Dixon’s housing, while agencies such as MUTEH and others partnered to furnish the housing.

“It’s been really exciting just to see all the Tupelo area just huddle around her,” McCormick said.

Additional services and programs Youth Villages provides in Tupelo include Mississippi Youth Programs Around the Clock (MYPAC), a Medicaid-funded program that also does intensive, at-home therapy, and its Intercept program, which is its intensive, at-home therapy for youth referred through CPS.

Youth Villages’ next goal is to work with the Tupelo Housing Authority to see the growth of FYI vouchers in Tupelo “so that we can help more young people just like Shauntissa,” McCormick said.

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