By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Each year, a new “class” of women joins the Junior Auxiliary of Tupelo. For the first six months, they are called provisionals. And each provisional class has to participate in a community service project.
The class of 2011, made up of 23 members, chose to redo a room in the Alpha House.
“My husband, Wesley, heard Mr. Clayton speak at an insurance meeting about the Alpha House,” said Paula Jones, who spearheaded the provisionals’ project. “He was really moved. I called Mr. Clayton and asked if there was anything we could do.”
Jerry Clayton founded the Alpha House, a home for boys who have been abandoned, neglected or abused, in 1972. It’s located in a Spanish-style residence at the corner of Broadway and Franklin in downtown Tupelo, built in 1910 by M.E. Leake.
“This is not a home for bad kids,” said Clayton. “Ninety-eight percent of the boys we get have never been in court by their own actions. In other words, they may have been in court, but because of abuse.”
Clayton told Jones if she and her group wanted to do something for the Alpha House, it would have to directly benefit the boys.
So, the ladies decided to give a facelift to what used to be called the Study Room.
Now, it’s known as the Media Room or the Boy Cave.
“We had a limited budget,” said Amanda Michael, another JA provisional. “We made what we could and begged for donations.”
The women had a $300 budget to work with.
So they had two tables handmade – one to house three computers, and another for electronics. They painted walls, patched ceilings and sewed curtains. They took photographs and had them framed. They got a couch, a flat-screen television, lighting, blinds and carpet donated.
In all, more than 20 individuals and companies helped make the project happen with generous gifts.
“You should have seen their faces the day the big sectional sofa was delivered,” said Michael. “One boy kept saying, ‘This is for us? This is for us to sit on?’”
Once the women began work on the Media Room, it was obvious a room down the hall, formerly known as the Computer Room, also needed attention. And for that matter, so did the hall.
So they expanded their project to include the hall and what is now known as the Study Room.
“We wanted to create two separate spaces,” Michael said. “A quiet space to study, and a fun media room.”
Now, the Study Room has a long table for homework, a bookcase and a filing cabinet.
It took the 23-member group a little more than two months to complete the projects.
“They got to work on it and golly bum, it turned into a giant,” Clayton said.
The Alpha House boys also pitched in on the work.
“They have been so helpful,” said Tonya Lipscomb, another class member. “They brought us water and opened doors. They carried boxes and paint cans.”
“And they helped us haul things down to the basement,” chimed in Shea Harmon. “They were always so polite.”
Each JA provisional had to put in 18 hours of work toward the project. They’ve almost hit their numbers and they still have $43 left to spend.
“We still lack a few things,” Jones said. “We want to get some artwork on the walls and some pillows made for the couch.”
Truth be told, the woman are a little sorry to we wrapping up the project.
“You could just tell they liked us being here,” Jones said. “They got used to having us around.”
Clayton said it was more than the women’s presence the boys appreciated.
“The work the ladies did here – it just reinforces to the boys that people care about them.”