An historic downtown Jackson building that housed the YMCA for decades, is about to get new tenants with a mission to breath new life into a depressed community.
The I. S. Sanders YMCA or Farish street branch dates back to 1947, established to serve the inner-city community. The current building went up in 1958.
In recent years, it became synonymous with the late Jackson mayor and former television executive Frank Melton, who spent much time there mentoring children and teaching them to swim.
It is silent now, the YMCA moved the last inhabitants, a daycare center, to a different location. But it won't become another abandoned structure along Farish street, thanks to a partnership with the Y and a non-profit called We Will Go Ministries.
"We have lived here so long," said Amy Lancaster. "People know our heart and so, we know all the neighbors. You know they come to our worship, they come to discipleship. We know our neighbors, so it's not odd. It's not like we're out of town guests coming in or something."
We first met Amy and David Lancaster in 2012; a couple who decided to practice what they preach, moving out of their spacious Brandon home to inner-city Jackson, where Amy Lancaster said, they do the work of the Lord. That was almost 9 years ago. She says the YMCA building is a blessing.
"For us, it's a continuation of what we already do," said Lancaster. "We reach out to the community. If someone's hungry, we feed them in Jesus' name. If someone's thirsty, we give them something to drink in Jesus' name. Kids. This is a beautiful facility, so kids can come and we can discipleship in basketball; we can do swimming and Christ; we can do, help them with their homework and share Christ. We can have mentoring for ladies that need help."
Lancaster also asked for and received the teen center owned by the YMCA. She plans to transform that into an art center where pieces harvested from old houses and re-purposed into art, will be for sale.
"This is Jackson. This is your Jerusalem. I want you to do something," said Lancaster. "You can't love the rest of the world and not do anything about this."
There is no state or federal funding and much of the work is done by volunteers. Lancaster says her hope is that her faith is infectious and abandoned buildings like the former grocery store across the street will soon be thriving businesses.
You can find out more about this ministry and find out how to help them by clicking on their website,
Let us help you take back your neighborhood. Just send an email to email@example.com or contact me on Facebook or Twitter.