What started as a summer program in 1988 in borrowed classrooms has blossomed into a community center serving children, seniors, and everyone in between. Excel, Inc., housed in several former department stores in downtown Okolona, has become a hub for a plethora of activities.
With goals of furthering education, promoting community building, encouraging volunteerism, and fostering healthy lives, the staff at Excel stays busy. Children are served not only through a summer program, but also every weekday after school and even during holidays. Dedicated volunteers tutor students in grades 1-12, helping them with homework and enhancing their math, reading, and computer skills.
Senior programs include games, arts and crafts, health talks, gardening, sewing, and computer activities. An exercise program, called PACE (People with Arthritis Can Exercise) is held 3 times a week. It offers not only physical well-being but social interaction as well.
Other programs offered by Excel include adult basic literacy skills, GED preparation, and certified nursing assistants training.
Additionally, Excel operates a resale store called One of a Kind. The shop provides affordable clothing and household goods for consumers and an extra bit of funding for Excel's programs. Speaking of the resale store, one of the volunteers who has been instrumental in the operation of the store, Verdine Judd, was the recipient of a 2019 GIVE (Governor's Initiative for Volunteer Excellence) Award for her work with Excel and a variety of other activities.
Verdine Judd (center) is shown here with Sister Nancy Schreck (left) and Sister Liz Brown (executive director of Excel) after receiving the GIVE Award for Outstanding Service in Strengthening Families and Communities.
Chickasaw County is fortunate to have Excel staff and volunteers continuing to make a difference every day!
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UPCOMING TRAININGS IN TUPELO
February 4 - Basic Grant Proposal Strategies
March 17 - Volunteer Management
April 28 - The Right Way to Start a Nonprofit
May 5 - Outcomes/Logic Modeling
May 27 - Social Media/Storytelling