Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Experience Works At Dean Park

Pictured here:Jerome Moncrief and Florence Thompson

In May 2010, Friends of Dean Park, Inc. (FODP) was approached as to its need for workers at Dean Park to help with the organization and its many functions in the community as well as beautification of Dean Park after years of it being an unkempt park. Of course, the officers jumped at the opportunity and FODP became a partner with Institute for Indian Development, Senior Community Service Employment Program with 2 slots being assigned to the park.  Jerome Moncrief and Walter ‘Boomer’ Boyd were the first to be hired.  On June 1, 2010, they began a training program as landscape assistances. In the beginning, most of their professional training came from Mike Skipper, county agent of Winston County and later from Winston County Master Gardeners. 

Four of FODP members completed courses via Mississippi State University through the Extension Office to become master gardeners to use their skills at the park and in the community.  They were Richard Moncrief, Elmetra Patterson, Janice and Tommy Ray Hopkins. They also worked with Mike Skipper to help train the senior workers.  Two of the Dean Park Commissioners, Claudell Weaver (deceased) and Willie T. Eichelberger helped with their training as well.

The senior workers’ responsibilities include weeding, watering, fertilizing and mulching plants; trimming/clipping hedges, roses and other shrubbery as needed; placing dirt, rocks and landscape timber around plants; picking up litter, glass and debris inside the park and along the fences; planting vegetables in the raised bed; raking leaves, limbs and brush and helping as needed with events and activities in the community.

In October 2012, Experience Works became the senior program’s manager and FODP continued to be a host agency. It is a national, charitable; community based nonprofit organization that helps seniors get the training, support services, and job development assistance they need to find good jobs in their local communities.  Experience Works began in 1965 as Green Thumb, a rural demonstration project that provided work for struggling farmers. Florence Thompson began her training with FODP in 2013.  She and Jerome work in harmony together and with the FODP members.

The FODP and the Dean Park Commission are very appreciative of Jerome’s and Florence’s dedication and hard work in the park and in the community.  They know what their job is and do it with little supervision by keeping the park clean and groomed.  One of the things they have learned to do is help train TANF workers who are younger and are assigned to FODP periodically. They have taken advantage of the training they have received and are passing it on.  According to several of the FODP officers, they wish they had the funds to hire them as permanent FODP workers. If there is anyone, who wishes to hire good landscape assistance, please contact us. Richard Moncrief 662.736-3323 or Elmetra Patterson 510.672-2106