Although the gift shop at the 'Mustard Seed' in Flowood is open year round, now that it is November, many people will start migrating that way to pick up a special decoration this year.
I rarely ever get a warmer welcome anywhere than I get when I drop in at the Mustard Seed. The Mustard Seed is a Christian community for adults with developmental disabilities.
There are 18 full time residents, and they are joined by about 20 more people for the daytime activities.
And every time I come here, someone always calls my name and I'm likely as not to get several hugs before I leave. And I always get to see someone's latest work.
"The Mustard Seed provides a Christian home, a loving Christian home, work environment; a place to fellowship with their peers and show to the community what abilities everyone has rather than centering on their disabilities" said Executive Director Bud Bratley. "So we provide a place for folks to do that."
It's hard to imagine what these folks would be doing on a day in and day out basis without Mustard Seed. They wouldn't have the quality of life they are having.
The Mustard Seed takes no governmental funds. It is run entirely by donations. And, and this came as a big surprise, by income from the gift shop. Everything in the gift shop is made by the seedsters.
"When we started the ceramic program in the Mustard Seed several years ago, I don't know that any of us thought it would be this big" said Bratley. "But about one out of every seven or eight dollars we spend comes from gift shop sales."
Sam Clark is the workshop manager. He is in charge of the program where the seedsters unleash their creativity.
"You know, God made us all with special gifts, and we just have an opportunity to shine a little spotlight on that. That's the way I see it" said Clark.
Many of the seedsters work has become collectable. Everything Michelle makes has an angel on it. And collectors love it.
Mr. Bill is the oldest resident. He turns 70 his next birthday. His delicate faces are his trademark.
Although the gift shop is open year-round, it gets busier with the approach of the holidays. People are looking for a one of a kind gift or decoration, made with love by a group of people who otherwise wouldn't have the facility to be themselves in, if it weren't for the Mustard Seed, making a difference.
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