The Greenwood Community Center will receive needed help Sunday in an effort to eventually open its facility on Avenue I.

Earnest Adams, a Greenwood native who runs the community center along with his wife, Debra, said he’s expecting over 100 volunteers from Mississippi Valley State University, Mississippi State University and churches to hang drywall and paint, among other jobs.

“We’re trying to open the after-school program sometime in October,” Adams said.

About half of the helpers will be coming from Starkville.

Thanks to Wilson Carroll, a friend from  high school, Adams said members of the Kappa Alpha fraternity at State will come to help.

“I met Earnest Adams when I was a fifth grader at Davis,” Carroll said. This was in the 1970s, following the federal court order to integrate the schools in Greenwood.

“Earnest was one of the nicest people I’ve ever met,” Carroll said. “Like a lot of kids back in those days, we bonded playing sports together. We played football together in junior high and high school.” Adams graduated in 1976 and Carroll in 1977. They eventually lost touch.  

Carroll now lives in Vicksburg but comes back to the Greenwood area to visit his family farm, Seldom Seen in Carroll County.  Because Carroll’s son was a Kappa Alpha member at MSU, Carroll said that he’d occasionally  hold rush parties at the family farm.

Last year, through Facebook, Carroll and Adams got back in touch.

Carroll said he happened to be up at the farm when an image emerged in July of three gun-toting Kappa Alpha students at the University of Mississippi standing in front of a bullet-riddled Emmett Till memorial sign in Tallahatchie County.

The three students were later suspended by the fraternity. It’s unclear whether they had shot the sign.

The image “disturbed me deeply,” said Carroll, who later encouraged the Kappa Alpha fraternity at MSU to make a positive contribution.

At first, Carroll said, the Kappa Alpha chapter at MSU offered to pay for a new sign until they found out the chapter at University of Mississippi said they would do so.

That’s when Carroll got another idea.

“I thought it would be a good way to put the MSU Kappa Alphas in touch with Earnest to see if they can do some things at the Greenwood Community Center to honor Emmett Till,” Carroll said.

Along with current MSU Kappa Alpha members, Carroll said he’ll there as well to supervise and help out.

“Earnest has a very ambitious agenda for his facility,” Carroll said.

The purpose of the center is to unite the community, provide after-school tutoring and recreational activities for children and also provide GED classes for adults, among other services.

Earlier this year, the Adamses purchased the St. Francis Center building at 709 Ave. I from the Pax Christi Ladies.

Though the facility has not yet opened due to continued renovations, the Adams were able to provide a summer camp for a group of 119 children at the Baptist Town Community Center.

In addition, the children in the summer camp went on field trips to the Museum of the Mississippi Delta and to the Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama.

The Adams are engaging in a big push for donations.

Calling it the “100 by 100” pledge, Adams said if 100 people were to contribute $100 each, for a total of $10,000, the center would have enough money for electrical work there.

nContact Gerard Edic at 581-7239 or gedic@gwcommonwealth.com.

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