Canopy Children’s Solutions (Canopy) is pleased to announce Mark McNeil has been selected as the new program director to lead the Warren County Children’s Shelter (WCCS) in Vicksburg.
“I love that one of Canopy’s core values is ‘Relationships Matter.’ Relationship building is foundationally an interventional practice for treating many of the issues plaguing the young people entrusted to our care. By showing these kids genuine love and care, we teach them how to heal and trust again,” said McNeil. “The WCCS staff and I are diligently working to build relationships with the children we care for, affording the skills and the information necessary for them to thrive beyond their time at Warren County Children’s Shelter.”
Prior to becoming program director, McNeil served as a therapist at WCCS helping to address the emotional and psychological needs of youth, many of whom experienced extreme abuse and neglect. In his new role, McNeil ensures the shelter maintains compliance standards as both a diagnostic and evaluation shelter for the Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services (MDCPS) and an emergency assistance shelter for runaway and homeless youth. He works extensively with the local youth courts who refer children in unsafe or unsanitary situations to WCCS for refuge and assistance. McNeil serves as a community liaison educating the community about WCCS and working with local individuals, community leaders and organizations on fundraising and volunteer initiatives including the annual Penny Harvest and Chili for Children Cook-Off. He also oversees the day-to-day operations working with staff to care for the individual needs of the children.
McNeil worked as a researcher at the University of Southern California and had spent many years in academia prior to joining the team at Canopy. Midway through his career he decided to go back to school to obtain his credentials as a Licensed Master Social Worker specializing in trauma and military/military families from the University of Southern California. He joined Canopy and the WCCS team shortly after graduation.
“When I first came to WCCS, I never expected to fall in love with it the way I have,” said McNeil. “Our staff is one big family and our support of one another allows us to come together and really impact the lives of the kids who come to us needing a place that feels hopeful, safe and secure. These kids are hurt in relationships and we work closely as a ‘family unit’ to allow those children to heal in a relationship as well.”
McNeil returned to his Mississippi roots and now resides with his rescue feline Loki and licensed therapy dog Archer. Archer makes frequent trips to WCCS with McNeil to play with the residents and help them to feel loved and safe. Away from work, McNeil addresses his self-care through gardening. In the spring and summer, he can be found elbow-deep in flowers beds and enjoys bringing that passion to WCCS by working alongside the kids to plant seasonal flowers around the shelter.
ABOUT WARREN COUNTY CHILDREN’S SHELTER: WCCS delivers around the clock emergency sheltering and diagnostic/evaluation services for abused, neglected, runaway, and homeless children and youth. WCCS is one of only two registered National Safe Place shelters in the state and provides a safe, home-like refuge for children and youth in need. Children ages birth to 17 years old receive services including medical, dental vision and psychological care; crisis intervention; individual counseling; group counseling; case management; behavior management; educational support; aftercare counseling; and non-residential counseling for runaway youth.
ABOUT CANOPY CHILDREN’S SOLUTIONS: Canopy Children’s Solutions is Mississippi’s largest and most comprehensive nonprofit provider of children’s behavioral health, educational and social service solutions. Founded in 1912, Canopy offers a full array of integrated, community-based services in all 82 counties as well as intensive campus-based and educational programming. For more information, please contact 800-388-6247 or visit us on the web at mycanopy.org.