VOCM manages a 16 acre park located behind Provine High School in West Jackson. Formerly named Claiborne Park, it was renamed on November 28, 2023 in honor of Phil and Marcia Reed who had the vision for this park. This park serves as a safe, accessible community park for multiple neighborhoods. Amenities like this help make a community a desirable place to live and and raise a family.
In addition to a 1 mile walking trail, it has several benches for relaxing, stately native trees to provide beauty and shade, a small grove of fruit trees and a marshland area that is home to various blooming flowers year round. The local high school uses it for homecoming celebrations each year. Neighbors walk the trail together. Residents from the senior housing complex next door have easy access. Local events are held in the field. In short, community happens here.
The original 16 plus acres was owned by the Fyke Robinson family as part of a large farm that included land that now holds Provine High School, St. Mary Church and School and Westland Plaza. The remaining land was donated to Baptist Health Systems in 1994. A group of community leaders, non-profits and businesses combined their efforts to voice their objections to the land being turned over to a group that planned to build densely populated low cost housing that would not be in keeping with existing housing in the area. This group formed the beginning of Zoo Area Progressive Partnership (ZAPP).
The group sought and received a reversal of that plan from MS Baptist Health Systems (MBHS). In 1999 MBHS was approached by a coalition of groups including Jackson Metro Housing Partnership (JMHP), Voice of Calvary Ministries, Zoo Area Progressive Partnership, Jackson Zoological Park, Junior League of Jackson, Hinds County Sheriff’s Department and many other concerned citizens asking them to donate the property to a local non-profit with the stipulation it be developed as a park. The Junior League of Jackson put up the initial $60,000 for development expenses.
ZAPP, at this time was not a 501(c)3 and could not sign a contract for the property. In 2000 it was leased to Jackson Metro Housing Partnership a member of this group.
Marcia Reed was asked to represent Jackson Metro Housing Partnership at the ZAPP meetings since she now worked for JMHP and lived in the community. She was asked to head up the sub-committee on the development of this land.
ZAPP continued the effort to improve the west Jackson community around the Zoo. In the early 2000’s many of the business and non-profit leaders moved on to other concerns leaving the Park sub-committee as the only active ZAPP group.
Members of that committee included Trudy Lawrence, Jan Hillegas, Willie Mary Thompson, Jim Megginson, Daisy Garrett-Campbell, Fr. Sebastian, Marcia Reed and a few others. A mission statement was developed for the park:
Claiborne Park will be a safe family oriented green space that maintains the natural habitat and encourages the health of mind, body and spirit through recreation.
We held monthly meetings and organized workdays to clean up and clear the property. Supervisor Peggy Hobson Calhoun and the Hinds County Solid Waste Division were very helpful along with work crews from Hinds County Penal Farm. Voice of Calvary Ministries provided tools and oversight for large and small workdays.
In 2005 we heard about a recreational trails grant from MS Dept. of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks that would need a 20% match. We applied for that grant under JMHP because they were the partner that held the lease. We were approved for the grant in December 2005. JMHP was not able to administer the grant so on August 1, 2006 the lease from Baptist was changed to Voice of Calvary Ministries and the grant was also changed to VOCM under the leadership of Phil Reed.
In 2008 the walking trail, two pedestrian bridges, five covered benches, several flower gardens, lighting and a parking lot were completed as phase one of a three phase development plan. The second phase included a covered picnic area and playground. The third phase included an amphitheater stage and background. This development plan was only possible through the generous donation of services of Ferguson and Associates Architects, landscape development firm Jester Design and McElroy and Ward Architects.
VOCM and ZAPP continued to hold workdays several times a year to keep up with growth and development of the park.
Donations to help with mowing and general upkeep of the Park are gladly accepted. Click the DONATE button at the top of the page to give online.
January 04, 2023