IRT Breaks Ground at MTK’s Camp Kamaasa

May 2018 | NEWSLETTER of the IRT (Innovating Readiness Training)

Mississippi’s Camp Kamassa
Military Training Mission Builds Camp for Children with Special Needs

Mrs. Mary Kitchens, Co-Founder and Director, Mississippi’s Toughest Kids Foundation
“With the wonderful help of the men and women of the Air Force Reserve and National Guard, through the IRT program, children in Mississippi with special needs will soon have a great place to attend camp. We are so very thankful to the IRT for their invaluable assistance.”

The Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) program began construction of Camp Kamassa in April. During this multi-year mission, the IRT program will build the first special needs camp in Crystal Springs, Mississippi, for the Mississippi’s Toughest Kids (MTK) Foundation. The IRT mission brings together service members from the Air Force Reserve and Air Guard to train on mission-essential tasks, including construction, dirt work, engineering, plumbing, and pest management. Building Camp Kamassa provides the military hands-on, multi-trade construction experience, while simultaneously creating an opportunity for children with special needs to experience summer camp.

The myriad of construction training opportunities at Camp Kamassa makes it an ideal mission for IRT. Military engineers develop a variety of skills, including the ability to manufacture structures from wilderness environments during overseas contingency operations. “We like to get projects that cover all components of construction,” said Chief Master Sergeant Todd Jones, IRT Project Manager assigned to Air Force Reserve Command, “and IRT will be involved in all aspects of constructing Camp Kamassa from cradle to grave.” Service members began the dirt work— clearing land and building roads— for the first phase of the project, and by the end of the summer will install water and sewage lines, dig a well, and build eight cabins. During this project, scheduled to last three years, service members will build a cafeteria, covered sidewalk, and an infirmary capable of providing care for the campers’ unique health concerns.

Kamassa, a Chocktaw word meaning “tough and perseverant,” describes the ones the camp serves—children living with disabilities, life-threatening illnesses, or other hardships. “We envisioned a year-round camp facility with activities like horseback riding, a ropes course, and canoeing that would be handicap-accessible,” said Mrs. Mary Kitchens, MTK’s co-founder and director. Kitchens wanted to build a permanent camp that was accessible to her target audience and had specialized medical facilities. “Without the IRT program, we could not afford to build the camp,” said Mrs. Kitchens, “thanks to the IRT program, thousands of children will have a camp designed to meet their unique medical needs while giving them a camp experience filled with fun, adventure, and discovery.”

MDAH Wins 2018 GIVE Award

On April 16, 2018 the many and varied volunteers of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History received the 2018 GIVE Award for Outstanding Achievement in Promoting Public History.

Elizabeth Coleman, Director of Volunteers, brought key representatives from all the departments to the luncheon. Congratulations to Elizabeth and all the amazing volunteers at MDAH!

Congratulations, Dr. Sharon Griffin!

Sharon Griffin, Director of Volunteers at Mississippi Children’s Museum, was recently awarded a Doctorate of Philosophy in Educational Leadership with a concentration in Higher Education from Jackson State University. DOVIA Members across the state join in congratulating you on this amazing achievement, Dr. Griffin!

Congratulations, 2018 DOVIA Officers!

Thanks, everybody for a wonderful DOVIA Mini-Conference at Mississippi Museum of Natural Science! (Special thanks to Ann Taylor at MMNS for hosting us!)

Congratulations to the newly-elected officers for 2018:

President: Stacy Crain (Jackson Zoo)
VP for Programs: Susan Branson (MS Children’s Museum)
VP for Membership: Lisa Kent (Volunteer)
VP for Marketing: Michele Baker (Crossroads Film Festival)
Treasurer: Dr. Fran Baker (Born Free of Mississippi)
Secretary: Adina Welker (Alzheimer’s Association of MS)

The officers will meet in December to plan the 2018 program.

Next meeting – 8/29/13 @ Winter Building

Join us for our next DOVIA meeting – a partnership with the Mississippi Commission for Volunteer Service (“Volunteer Mississippi”)

*August 29, 2013 from 9:00 – 11:30 a.m. at the Winter Building downtown*


= = = = = = = = = = =

 Together, Let’s Get Things Done in Your Community
Learn how national service programs can strengthen your organization and community

The Mississippi Commission for Volunteer Service (MCVS) will hold information sessions to discuss the availability of federal funds to support local national service programs and opportunities to access national service resources, including AmeriCorps State, VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America), National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC), and Senior Service Corps programs. Educational institutions, volunteer centers, state and local government agencies, and nonprofit and faith-based organizations are eligible to apply for national service funding.

All sessions will be an hour and a half long.  Those interested in submitting an application for an AmeriCorps State program to operate in 2014 will meet for an additional hour after the presentation, for Nuts & Bolts of AmeriCorps State.

                                JACKSON             Thursday, August 29, 9 – 11:30 am

                                                                William F Winter Building, 200 North St., Jackson                               

AmeriCorps is a grant-funded national service network providing resources to Mississippi communities. Service program members pair with nonprofit and faith-based and community organizations and public agencies to build volunteer capacity and meet locally-identified needs. AmeriCorps members also recruit area volunteers to directly address core issues—education, disaster, health, veterans, and the environment—forging self-sustaining communities. To learn more or register for an information session, contact AmeriCorps Mississippi Program Officer Judy Stein at 601.842.6700 or

During the public information sessions, the Mississippi Commission for Volunteer Service is inviting informal comment from the public concerning the use of service and volunteerism as strategies to meet critical community needs. This input will be considered in the development and implementation of a national service plan for the State of Mississippi. Comments will be accepted during each public information session or may be submitted in writing by email to Comments should be received no later than 5:00 p.m. Central Time, September 30, 2013.

The Mississippi Commission for Volunteer Service engages and supports Mississippians of all ages and backgrounds in service to their communities. As your state office of volunteerism, the Mississippi Commission for Volunteer Service administers AmeriCorps programs, supports a network of Volunteer Centers, and coordinates other initiatives fostering community engagement and building volunteer capacity throughout the state. Contact MCVS at 888.353.1793, our website, Facebook and Twitter @volunteeryall.

Welcome to the new DOVIA website!

Welcome, friends, to the new-and-improved DOVIA Mississippi website!

As you can see, we’ve kept all the wonderful things from the original website (links and resources, member list, calendar…) and added some new ones (gallery, contact form, RSS feeds…).  We hope you’ll find navigating the new site very easy.  Keep checking back in the next few weeks as we add and update the content even more!