Canopy Takes to the Country

Imagine the joy to be able to leave your worries behind and escape to a different world, even for a day. Thanks to a generous donor, Canopy’s youth were able to experience a day of fun in the country.

While the day was hot, a nice breeze blew across the open fields in Flora. The fishing poles were prepared with bait and hooks, the horses were saddled, jump houses inflated and there was an endless supply of funnel cakes and snow cone waiting to be enjoyed. Under a white tent, a collection of animals including a camel, kangaroo, goats, and an alpaca were waiting to be loved. The stage was set for the kids to arrive.


More than 60 youth and chaperones loaded charter buses in the parking lot of Broadmoor Baptist church in Madison. (This experience alone was exciting as very few of the kids, if any, had seen a bus with bath facilities onboard.) The buses weaved through the countryside passing open fields, rolling hills and beautiful remote houses scattering the distance. When the buses turned into the farm where the event was held, the kids could barely hold in their excitement.

As the kids exited the buses, they were greeted by a special guest—Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant, who was later joined by his wife, First Lady Deborah Bryant.

Gov. Phil Bryant

Planned activities for the day included a dunking booth, craft station, petting zoo, fishing, horseback riding, jump houses, karaoke, and a photo booth. The kids, which included children from CARES Center as well as children involved in Canopy’s Therapeutic Foster Care Program, spent time with volunteers taking in each activity with joy and excitement.

Horseback Riding

“Many of these activities are a first for our kids,” said John D. Damon, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer for Canopy Children’s Solutions. “These experiences create powerful memories and elicit strong emotions in our kids. What is the most powerful is that the kids realize this is something put together by volunteers—people they’ve never met before—just for them. While it looks like fun, it is also very therapeutic and we are grateful to the organizers who made this possible for our kids. It is an experience they won’t forget.”

FishingThe kids also enjoyed a catered meal of fried catfish, chicken, and the all the fixings. During the lunch break, several of the youth entertained the crowd singing their favorite songs.

As the day wound to a close, the kids gathered under the large tent with snow cones and funnel cakes to watch a magic show..Dorian the Magician


“What a great experience!” said Caitlin Mudd, program director for CARES Center. “The kids have enjoyed their custom t-shirts and hats they were given and have asked several times when they could go back.”Craft Station


Canopy is grateful to the donors and volunteers who helped make this event happen. Powerful partnerships with individuals and organizations give us the tools and opportunities to help children thrive.

All Fun and Games

The end of the school year is an exciting time for most children—field days, class programs, awards ceremonies, graduations and class parties fill the daytime schedule offering a celebratory reprieve from a year of academic challenges. When most kids are focusing on vacations and lazy days at the pool, Mrs. Gates’ fourth grade class from East Rankin Academy chose to make their end of year celebration mission-focused.

After a class mom saw Canopy’s social media post needing board games for youth at CARES Center Jackson, the class decided to collect board games during their End of Year class party. In total, the class collected more than 30 new sets of cards and board games.

board games

“It takes the love and support of the community to make a difference in the lives of the kids we serve,” said Caitlin Mudd, program director for CARES Center.

“When people give, whether it is games, or personal hygiene items, dresses for prom, or monetary donations, it makes a significant impact on what we are able to provide the children we serve. I am grateful to the many people in the community who support our mission and our kids.”

Canopy would like to offer a special thank you to Mrs. Gates’ class and East Rankin Academy for reminding our youth that compassionate people are rooting for their success.

East Rankin Academy

East Rankin Academy Fourth Grade Class

“We believe every child can be a success story if they are given the right tools and opportunities,” said John Damon, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer for Canopy. “Powerful partnerships with individuals and organizations like East Rankin Academy make it possible for us to support children’s needs in a variety of ways.”

To learn about ways you can get involved through volunteering, donating or sponsoring a needs drive, please visit our I Want To Help page.

Canopy Wine Tasting in Review

Canopy Children’s Solutions’ 2018 Wine Tasting & Silent Auction was held Saturday, April 21, at the home of Kerk and Elizabeth Mehrle in the Eastover Subdivision of Jackson. As a ‘thank you’ for hosting the event, the couple was presented with a watercolor painting of the family home by Mark Millet, which was on display.

The evening opened with a professional cooking demonstration of Pickled Shrimp, curated by Paul Adair, chef and co-owner of The Gathering restaurant in Livingston. The VIP hour also offered artisan libations from Krutz Family Cellars of Santa Rosa, California.

Wine Tasting Cooking Demo

The main event boasted live music from Sessions Trio and samplings from top area restaurants including The Pig & Pint, Saltine’s, Broad Street, La Brioche, Rooster’s, Soul Shine Pizza Factory and Magnolia Catering. The featured wine offerings were provided by Calistoga Wine & Spirits, Wine & Spirits Discount Center in The Quarter, McDade’s Wine & Spirits, Madison Cellars, Colony Wine Market and Joe T’s Wines & Spirits. Approximately 200 people participated in the event.

Proceeds from the Wine Tasting will benefit Canopy’s statewide programs serving the emotional, behavioral, educational and social needs of more than 5,000 Mississippi children.

Canopy wishes to thank the Canopy Auxiliary, which was instrumental in helping to coordinate the event. Thanks to the support of event sponsors, community partners and attendees, Canopy was able to raise more than $75,000!

Wine Tasting Sponsors

Help Canopy reach our Wine Tasting goal of $80,000 by clicking here.

Every Child Needs a Who

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”—Dr. Seuss

If Dr. Seuss has taught us anything, it’s that it takes a WHO, not a what, to transform the world around us. Canopy Children’s Solutions is grateful for the many “whos” who take time out of their day to work with our children. Whether it is offering a hug and kind word, playing a game, tutoring, leading a Bible study or reading a book to a classroom of children, each of these opportunities has a great impact on the children Canopy serves.

Margaret Whiticker, accountant at the Lakeland administrative office, began volunteering her time once a week to read to the children in Ms. White’s class at the CARES School Jackson. Since her job at Canopy doesn’t include “hands-on” involvement with the kids, she decided volunteering would help her to further connect with the mission of the organization.

Each Friday, Margaret reads a new book to some of the elementary-aged children matching it to holidays, events, weather, or maybe something the children have been discussing during the week’s lessons. During March, Margaret wanted to help the children celebrate Read Across America Week. The date of March 2, coincides with the birthdate of Theodore Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, whose tongue-twisty tales capture the hearts and minds of children. This was a prime opportunity for Margaret to try out her new book, Dr. Seuss’ On Beyond Bugs: All About Insects.

reading to kids

In festive fashion, Margaret donned the iconic red and white hat from The Cat in the Hat. As she proceeded through the book, the kids asked a lot of questions and carefully studied each page. Some of the children sat quietly, as others worked hard to contain their excitement. The class discussed the different bugs, focusing on those native to Mississippi. Each had his/her own story about bees, mosquitos and flies.

At the end of the book, Margaret pulled out what she calls her “silly book of jokes.” She visits each child at his or her desk and helps them read aloud their silly joke for the class.


“The joke book is one of their favorite things when I come,” said Margaret. “Well, that and the little treats I bring them.”

For our children at Canopy, interaction with volunteers helps to reinforce their sense of self-worth. A face that “doesn’t have to be there” reminds the kids they are loved, they are valued and the kind words and actions are genuine and not of necessity. Knowing that someone willingly chose to give up their time to spend with them is a truly humbling and healing experience for our kids. Our Canopy volunteers, from inside the organization as well as in the community, are vital to helping our children thrive.

Thank you to Margaret and all the WHOs who help Canopy transform lives!

To become a Who for Canopy, visit our Volunteers page, here.