by BRITTANY HALL
Renowned writer Charles Dickens once said, “No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of another.” An inspirational and encouraging message that when practiced and molded into a beautiful habit becomes one life changing ripple in a pond full of troubles for anyone that has been affected by life’s adversities. Tragically though, the trend in our society is to separate your heart from your feelings; a practice that begins by cutting off emotions, compassion, and the ability to see ourselves and others as humans. Selfishness seems to have overtaken selflessness, causing humanity to lose faith, and the symbolic and groundbreaking brotherly-love movement of earlier generations seems clouded over. Thankfully, however, our world still beams sunshine through people like Swainsboro native, Nerkia Hudson and her mother-in-law, Irene Myers. A duo that has been moving mountains through their mission of charity since the moment they met… “It’s such a blessing to be able to help others.” Nerkia happily said in a Facebook post, after receiving a large donation of food that put their non-profit, known as Mama Irene’s Family and Friends, at full capacity. “There are six more boxes of food available for pick up this week. Also, if you’re wondering why the canned vegetables are stacked so high, my two-year-old son, Mama Irene’s grandson, insisted on helping.” She added to the post with a heart-warming video of her toddler preparing donations for needy families. Instilling the importance of compassion within him, through her own concern for the good of another. It’s easy to respect Nerkia and Mama Irene’s message from simply visualizing and reading their genuinely wholehearted posts, but to truly appreciate all that they stand for you must start from Mama Irene’s roots. Originally from New York, Irene Myers came from extremely humble beginnings. Her father died at a very young age and her mother was never around, leaving her to grow within the foster system. As Irene grew to become an adult, she fell in love with a man from Georgia and moved to Hinesville, a military town that she now calls home. Not long after settling in coastal Georgia with her husband, she became pregnant with triplets; two boys and a baby girl… But harrowing news soon followed this precious blessing when she went into labor and was tragically told that none of her children had made it to term. Irene then used her beautiful and optimistic heart to share comfort through her calling of becoming a foster parent. Sheltering 50 children over a span of 40 years while adopting two as her own, her daughter Chandelier Morgan and her son, Marquise Morgan. While in college at Georgia Southern, Marquise met Nerkia, and the pair became inseparable. After being introduced to all the loved ones, Nerkia fell right into place within their family. As time went on, Nerkia and Irene shared a bond as strong as that of any mother and daughter, confiding in one another and connecting through their love of philanthropy. “She went many years without anything, and she didn’t want anyone else to experience that if she could help it.” Nerkia explained of her mother-in-law’s love to assist those in need… “She noticed that whenever military families would get stationed in other areas, they would throw away many good and salvageable things. So, she began asking for those items and people started donating to her.” The movement sparked a light in Irene. Making it her purpose to serve people. “She will give things to the homeless or the women's shelter for women who escaped from an abusive situation and now must provide all the care and support for their children. Items such as clothes, blankets, food, or furniture that are in excellent condition but no longer needed.” Most recently, Mama Irene’s Outreach held a $1 yard sale in their own backyard that provided people with nice new clothes, diapers, shoes, food, school supplies, home necessities, and toys. There was also an area for kids to play so their parents and guardians could shop peacefully. “Our yard sale was a success!” Nerkia exclaimed in an online post. “We went viral at 5.4 thousand views and gained over 50 new followers to our outreach page! We will be stocking up our pantry soon, so stay tuned for pickup dates. Thank you all for your support!” She concluded in her post. Today, they prepare for another $1 yard sale and have been sharing many incredible updates to their outreach center every day. Including an overwhelming amount of food donations, a new ambassador for their mission within the Savannah area and some sweet little additions for Easter. “We also made 150 Easter goody bags, 50 of which will go to the Ronald McDonald House.” Though they are in Hinesville, their generosity is felt all throughout Georgia including right here at home. “I come down to Emanuel County maybe twice a month because my mom lives in Summertown.” Hudson explained… “So, whoever needs help within those areas, like Swainsboro or Twin City, I bring them the items that they need or that have been requested.” She also has a truly remarkable system that helps aid parents or guardians of children for years if they are not within short distance of Mama Irene’s Outreach. “If a local parent or guardian needs something for a newborn, I always try to make sure to cover the next two years of the child’s life by bringing clothing that they can wear for that amount of time, as well as diapers, food, blankets, baby equipment and whatever else they may need. I also make sure to track when the baby is born and buy clothes according to the seasons and size.” While Nerkia began helping Mama Irene eight years ago, she states that Irene’s outreach program has been ongoing for over 50 years now and is steadily climbing. Reaching families and impacting lives all throughout the state and country. “I’m happy to say that I got to adopt a family in Virginia this past year and was able to provide them with Christmas goodies.” She told me of one of her favorite success stories before sharing a more recent attainment within their foundation. “We finally got the okay as a non-profit under the Vietnam Veterans of America #789 here in Hinesville, Georgia. Members have been a huge help in the pantry as well as members of the Hinesville First United Methodist Church.” Adding to the bountiful group of Mama Irene’s Family and Friends and reminding us that no donation is too big or small. “It may not seem like we’re doing much but the lives we change with a simple donation makes an incredible difference.” You can find more information about Mama Irene’s organization, including how to donate or support your own family and friends through searching, Mama Irene’s Family and Friends Outreach on Facebook.
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