Children focus of Wesley here
The new Wesley House in Philadelphia will be officially open to the public on March 16 to prevent children and law enforcement officials from having to travel all the way to the Wesley House in Meridian.
Brandy Rea, assistant executive director of the Wesley House, said the Philadelphia office is a child advocacy and sexual assault assault crisis center that will help children heal and become survivors.
“The Wesley House in Meridian was established in 1904 and has been around for close to 120 years,” Rea said. “The children who are serviced by us in Philadelphia have to drive all the way to Meridian, so we wanted to provide a space for them so they didn’t have to drive. Since we’re serving in the community, we wanted to have a space there, too.”
Rea said bringing the Wesley House to the city has been a plan for a couple of years.
“We were able to get some grant funding from VOCA (Victims of Crime Act) and VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) to get the project started,” said Rea of Philadelphia.
“We got the space from Gloria Williamson, widow of Ed Williamson, but we need funding to be able to get equipment to do things like forensic interviews. We are having a ‘Heroes of Hope’ Gala on April 14 at the Riley Center to promote this project and raise money, and we’ll have several flyers there for our cause.”
The Wesley House based in Meridian serves the same function as the new facility here along with having a food pantry. It is located in the former Williamson Law office at 509 Church Avenue below The Citizens Bank and the Philadelphia Police Department.
The grand opening is on Thursday, March 16 from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. and will be an open house for the public to attend.
“It is a come-and-go event and we want to show the community what we want to do and get done and see this is their center,” she said. “We’ve got the lobby done so we can start seeing clients. We’re there to serve the community.”
She said all services at the Wesley House are free of charge.
“We work with child protective services, law enforcement, youth court, and more,” Rea said. “We plan to do forensic interviews with clients and provide counseling and advocacy for the whole family.
“Sheriff Eric Clark has seen the office, Chief Eric Lyons has seen it, and Judge Amy Taylor, youth court judge, is excited to see it.”
According to their website, Wesley House Community Center, Inc. is a non-profit organization that began in 1904 when Mrs. Elizabeth Cochran, Mrs. J.R. Whittaker and some ladies of the Central Methodist Church in Meridian, Mississippi felt a calling to “…minister to the least of these…”
“These Methodist women sought to bring families in a cotton-mill community on the Eastern boundary of Meridian, into the sphere of Christianity,” the website says.
“Today, Wesley House is a National Missions Institute and is in a covenant relationship with the United Methodist Women. It is also a recognized mission of the Mississippi Conference of the United Methodist Church. Wesley House is an agency of The United Way of East Mississippi. Wesley House is also a member of the National Children’s Alliance, Children’s Advocacy Centers of Mississippi, and the Mississippi Coalition Against Sexual Assault.”
The Wesley House provides a hand-up approach of assistance to clients through four separate and distinct mission areas:
• East Mississippi Child Advocacy Center
• East Mississippi Sexual Assault Crisis Center
• Educational Services
• Christian Relief
For more information about the Wesley House, visit www.wesleyhousemeridian.org, or call them at (601) 485-4736.