By BRIAN HAWKINS
The significance of the grand opening of the new office for OSERVS was not lost on U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper on Saturday.
With the threat of a major winter storm hitting Mississippi — including the greater Starkville area — today, volunteers for OSERVS — an acronym for Oktibbeha-Starkville Emergency Response Volunteer Services — may be called to act to help people in the community, said Harper, R-Miss.
“Those here for this building dedication today will get to test everything tomorrow,” said Harper. “You have already proven you care and believe in what you’re doing. I think what you doing and what you’re going to do will be tremendous for this community.”
OSERVS volunteers are mobilizing to open a shelter in downtown Starkville in the event of a widespread power loss during the winter storm that’s forecast to strike most of Mississippi today.
Established in July, OSERVS — an organization dedicated to working with local emergency response officials to respond in emergency and disaster situations and to provide response training programs to the community — formally opened its new offices in the former Josey Veterinary Clinic building at 100 Highway 12 East at South Jackson Street on Saturday.
The Josey family donated use of the clinic space to OSERVS last month.
The work by OSERVS volunteers is another example of the best aspects of Mississippi, Harper said.
“Mississippi often takes grief at the national level for things we aren’t doing right,” Harper said. “But there’s not another state where people give more or take care of their own more than Mississippi. This organization is proof of that.”
Harper attended Saturday’s OSERVS office opening at the invitation of local businessman Dan Moreland, who is an active supporter of the new agency.
His presence at the opening was appreciated by the agency’s leaders.
“It speaks volumes that our congressman takes time to come to this event, especially knowing how busy it is in Washington right now,” said Amy Tuck, former lieutenant governor who serves on the OSERVS board of directors. “When you can take time to be here, it’s monumental for us, and we appreciate that support.”
Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman said OSERVS brings together a diverse group of volunteers to help the community in times of great need.
“I see the faces of the volunteers I see in the trenches every time our city faces a crisis,” said Wiseman. “This is a group that has proven it will do what it takes, even in the face of adversity, to make sure our community is ready to respond in an emergency.”
Volunteer and community financial support is what will make OSERVS a continued success, said Carol Moss Read, chair of the agency’s board of directors, citing Moreland and his wife, Sherry, as prime examples.
“It’s these kind of folks who make this organization work,” Read said.
OSERVS has formally incorporated as a non-profit agency with the Secretary of State’s Office and is seeking tax-exempt status with the State Tax Commission and Internal Revenue Service. The agency’s staff — Executive Director Becky Wilkes and Program Coordinator Connie Malone — are currently working without pay until a time where the agency has a sufficient funding base.
Bully Gras Ball
OSERVS’ major fundraiser, the Bully Gras Ball, is set for 7:30 p.m. Jan. 29 at the Starkville Country Club. A Mardi Gras celebration with a Mississippi State flair, the ball will feature heavy hors d’oeuvres, soft drinks and a cash bar and entertainment by popular area R&B band The Flames.
The ball will also include a Bully Gras Royal Court that will be announced the week of the event.
The court will include multiple dukes and duchesses, from which a Bully Gras king and queen will be chosen and announced the night of the Bully Gras Ball.
Tickets for the ball cost $50 per person and are available at the OSERVS offices, which is open weekdays, or by calling 418-8911. Numerous tickets have already been sold.
For more information about the Bully Gras Ball, contact Wilkes at the phone number listed above or send e-mail to email@example.com .
For more information about OSERVS and its service mission in the community, visit the organization’s website at http://www.oservs.com .