By Leah Allen
BC Staff Writer
Pam Chatman wanted to do something to help women in the Delta; unfortunately, the concerns these women were facing were multifaceted, complex and intrinsically interconnected.
Fortunately Chatman is not one to let challenges stand in the way of achieving a goal.
An author, motivational speaker, television personality and the first female African-American news director in Mississippi she is quite familiar with working hard for what she wants.
“I mentor women throughout the Delta and one thing I hear most often is that there are a lack of resources available to assist them. The truth is that there are a lot of resources out there to help women with a number of issues,” said Chatman.
The real problem she explained is that “many times they are simply not aware of all that is out there for them. I wanted to create a one stop where women could come and find all of these things in one place. I wanted to help create real change. For too long we have had meetings but failed to follow through on the plans we create; we have to execute.”
That idea was the genesis of her Day of Empowerment event, which will be held Wednesday at the United Family Life Center in Cleveland.
Registration will begin at 8:30 a.m. and the event will run from approximately 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Chatman knew that to make the event a success she was going to need to work with others who shared her vision.
“I contacted different places that has resources that could help women with job training education and other areas of need. We have local organizations as well as people and groups from the Jackson and Gulfport areas,” she said.
Chatman also spoke with Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Dawn Beam and Deborah Bryant, wife of Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, about the event.
Beam is co-chair of the Commission on Children’s Justice and she and First L*Bryant have been working on the Families First for Mississippi program.
The initiative is currently operating in six counties, including Bolivar, and aims to do exactly what Chatman envisions for the Day of Empowerment by creating a pool of resources to support families with varying needs.
“First Lady Bryant was so excited that she decided to come and participate in the event with Justice Beam. They felt that this tied into the new Family First initiative because this event is a way to help people deal with poverty and it is a chance for us to get together and network,” said Chatman.
Attendees will be able to receive information on: GED, job skills / workforce training, continuing education, career readiness / training, parenting classes, transportation benefits, the Family First Initiative and entrepreneurship.
There will also be people on hand to provide advice on concerns such as housing.
“This just the pilot program. Eventually I want to take this to communities across the Delta but I started in Bolivar County because that is where I am from,” said Chatman.
Chatman said that even women who may not be unemployed or looking for educational opportunities should attend the event.
“I would encourage women from all walks of life to come to this event. Lots of women have jobs but they may not be happy with the work they are doing or the pay they receive. This is a way give women new opportunities. I would also encourage them to bring a copy of their resume. We will actually have employers at the event who are hiring that day as well as others who will be taking resumes and applications.
“There will be a giveaway at the end of the event as well. I know that these women have come to invest in their lives and I want them to have some resources to take with them when they go home such as food, snacks and household goods,” she said
There is no cost to attend the event.
For those who are interested but cannot attend Chatman said that the portions of the event will be available via “live stream of this so people who can hear what our guests have to say.”
She also said that she has already been working with various partners to “come up with some ideas to help build this into a long term project. We hope to continue this program and even expand in the future.”
For more information about the even contact Chatman at (662) 588-2019.
By Leah Allen