John us Saturday for Gulfport's Back to School: Health and Wellness Fair!

Saturday, August 1st 
Barksdale Pavilion - Jones Park

Over 45 different organizations participating!

Our FREE Event will include:
· Bicycle Safety Course 
· Imagination Playground
· Tennis Sport Court
· Humane Society Pet adoptions
· Human bubble demonstrations
· Popcorn/refreshments
· FREE school supplies such as binders, pencils, rulers, folders, etc.
· Children can visit 7 stations then receive a FREE Gulfport drawstring backpack
· Fun Train rides
· Live performances from Lynn Meadows!
· Pictures with Smokey the Bear!
· Tons of Games/activities
· FREE health screenings

Family Enrichment Center a 'huge step' for the city of Gulfport

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - A Gulfport building that's been sitting unused for more than six months is getting new life. The facility that used to house the Police Athletic League will now serve a different purpose for the community. City leaders, and residents celebrated a ribbon cutting at the building in Gaston Point Tuesday morning.

It's in the heart of Gaston Point and many in the surrounding neighborhoods are glad to see this day come.

"I am so excited about this facility. I have been watching and observing," said longtime resident Ruby Adams.

Now, the building bears a new title: The Family Enrichment Center. The organizations responsible for reopening these doors say it's a way to get the community involved again. 

"This is an effort in the area of prevention," said Gulfport Police Chief Leonard Papania. The Gulfport Police Department has partnered with Climb CDC to make the center possible. 

Chief Papania said it's all about providing a central location where families can learn together. He thinks Climb CDC helps offer that service to families who might not otherwise have the opportunity.

"Climb CDC is such a proven group and their efforts aren't just lip-service. They're really turning people around," said Papania.

Climb CDC CEO Lori West said this effort will simply expand the work that's already happening at Climb's downtown location.

"We'll be able to bring families together and continue doing what we're doing across the board," she said.

According to West, this project is made possible by a Community Impact Initiative Planning Grant from the United Way. In addition to culinary classes, West said Climb CDC will be able to offer classes like parenting, and food and nutrition. It's something similar to what West says the organization used to offer.

"We really feel like we're getting back to some of our roots at being able to make sure that we identify what makes a family whole," said West.

For Climb graduate and Gaston Point resident Tytiunna Jefferson, this is exactly what the area needed.

"I think this is a great step in the community. This is going to get more people involved and keep kids out of trouble," said Jefferson.

She knows, firsthand, that the people at Climb CDC can give people the hope they need to succeed.

"A lot of positive over negative. I know that for sure," she said.

According to West, the hours of operation should be finalized within the next month or two. She plans to hold a back-to-school dinner at the 8200 square foot facility once school is back in session.

Gulfport Public Information Officer Chris Vignes said, "This will put family first. Families will come together, take classes, and learn how to become better all around. This is going to be a huge step for the city of Gulfport" WLOX-TV


Emergency responders hailed as heroes during Gulfport ceremony

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - They respond to numerous cries for help and make those split-second decisions that can save lives. On Tuesday, more than a dozen first responders from Hancock and Harrison Counties were honored for going above and beyond to serve their communities. Meet the men and women who are being hailed as heroes.

In April, Gulfport police officer Luis Garcia calmly talked with a man and saved him from ending his life on the Kremer Bridge. On Tuesday, Garcia was among 14-first responders who were honored at an AMR luncheon for a job well done.

Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant said those men and women have answered a special calling.

"Each day, you have a rare opportunity of being able to respond to times of tragedy and make a difference. We know why you are here. God sent you to save others," he said.

Most of the award recipients responded to medical emergencies. Paramedic Heather Miller was recognized for resuscitating five people this year who were victims of cardiac arrest.

"You feel like you've done it over the years and you've saved many, many lives. It's good to be recognized sometimes and be thanked," said Miller.

Although they were hailed as heroes, the honorees said they were just doing what they love.

"I'm somewhat humbled, but it's very unique to be able to be recognized for something that we do day in and day out," said Gulfport Firefighter David Faul.

Perhaps the biggest reward was hearing from the people they helped save. In February, Billy White suffered multiple blood clots in his legs and lungs, while he was driving with his wife along the Industrial Seaway in Gulfport. White was getting out of the car when he suddenly passed out on the pavement. On Tuesday, the couple got to meet the dispatcher who took their 911 call.

"I'm just grateful that I had God and the paramedics and EMT people. They gave me another chance to be here. I owe them my life," said White.

"I just want to say thank you from the bottom of our hearts. I just appreciate you all so much. God bless y'all," his wife, Antonnette White told the crowd.

"I've been doing this for about 14 years now and we don't consider ourselves heroes. We just consider it doing our jobs. So when we do get to meet people like that and hear the outcome is good, it feels really good," said Eric Hawsey with AMR. 

There were other interesting stories, like a Harrison County firefighter who provided critical care to a newborn who was not breathing.

Two of the award recipients are not professional emergency responders. They work for the city of Diamondhead's Water Department, and they helped save a person who was in cardiac arrest. WLOX-TV

Congratulations to Gulfport's  Triplett-Day Drug Co. on celebrating their 60th Anniversary this week!

Gulfport Softball tournament brings fans and money to the Coast

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - From Georgia to Oklahoma, hundreds of softball families and fans from across the southeast were on the Coast for a softball tournament.

Not only is it a great sporting event, but the Southern National tournament is also a big hit for the Coast economy.

More than 125 fast pitch teams took the field over the next few days at the Gulfport Sportsplex. 

This is the largest softball tournament ever hosted here at the sportsplex. Players, fans and coaches gave the Gulfport facility great reviews.

“The complex is great. The people are great. Teams are awesome. Good competition. It gets intense, and we play good down here too, that's another reason,” said Jason Burt 

Pizza fundraiser raises a lot of dough for Gulfport police officer

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The South Mississippi community answered the call to help a Gulfport police officer who's battling a life-threatening condition. Two Papa John's restaurants held a fundraiser Thursday for the family of Officer Shawn Williams. The customers say they're proud to support someone who serves and protects their neighborhoods.

The calls came pouring in an hour before the doors opened. Customers lined up early, but most of them weren't just craving pizza.

"This is the reason we're here, for this nice young man," said Vanessa Keller as she pointed to a picture of Williams.

The officer suffered a brain aneurysm last Wednesday. Keller said Williams, affectionately known as Cupcake, is one of her bank customers. When her coworkers heard that two Papa John's restaurants were donating 20 percent of the day's sales to help with the officer's medical expenses, they wanted to help.

"Because he's a part of the community, and he helps serve and protect us. That's why," said Keller. "We were hungry, like, what are we doing to eat today? Pizza."

The Papa John's on Pass Road brought in extra employees to fill the unexpected orders.

"It's just been crazy good. That shows so much community support for Gulfport. Gulfport comes together in times of need," said Jourdan Hartshorn, Papa John's Coast Marketing Director.

"I heard about the cause on Facebook, and we like to support our officers at Memorial," said Kristy Jarrell, who picked up eight pizzas for the X-ray staff at Memorial Hospital.

"It's something so sudden and tragic. No one saw it coming, and it's sad to see what the family's going through. It feels good to be able to do something that's really simple. It's just eating pizza, but it's helping the family all at the same time," said Christian Ashford, who picked up 10 pizzas for his downtown Gulfport law office.

That financial and emotional support means a lot to the Williams family. The officer's two teenage children showed up to personally thank the customers.

"It's amazing, because we didn't expect all of this. We didn't expect to have half of Gulfport supporting my dad, and it makes us feel very loved, and we greatly appreciate that," said Maia Williams.

Maia said everyone on Team Cupcake is also praying for her dad's full recovery, because the eight year police veteran wants to return to the force.

When asked what her dad would say about the support, Maia said, "I think he'd say, 'Thank you.' I told him he was on the news and he got excited and was like, 'Well, was I now? How'd I look?' and I said, 'You looked great.'"

Everyone who purchased food at the Papa John's on Pass Road and Crossroads Parkway on Thursday was entered into a raffle to win pizza for a year. You can also buy additional tickets through Friday afternoon. Four winners' names will be drawn Friday at 2 p.m. That's when the money from the pizza fundraiser will be presented the Williams family.


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