Junior Auxiliary to host annual Charity Ball March 2

Feb. 13—The Junior Auxiliary of Meridian is hosting the 2024 Charity Ball on Saturday, March 2, to raise funds for JA service projects, and this year's event will take guests "Through the Looking Glass" into a garden party-inspired, black-tie event blended with a little disco flair.

A beloved Meridian tradition, the annual JA Charity Ball will be held from 7-11 p.m. at Northwood Country Club. Musical entertainment for the night will be provided by Groove Factor Band.

Organizers said proceeds from the annual event will directly benefit the local community by supporting Junior Auxiliary programs and their mission to serve children in the Meridian and Lauderdale County area.

"Our annual Charity Ball is a highly anticipated black-tie affair that will allow attendees to step 'Through the Looking Glass' into a night of fabulous fun that directly benefits the children Junior Auxiliary serves in our community," said Shelby Chaney, chair of this year's event.

Chaney said ball guests can look forward to an evening filled with scrumptious heavy hors d'oeuvres; an open bar; a night of dancing to the Groove Factor Band; casino games including blackjack, roulette, poker and craps; a Photobooth; a 50/50 Split the Pot chance; and a Wine/Liquor Pull.

As the Junior Auxiliary's flagship fundraising event each year, last year's Charity Ball was a delightful success, she said, and JA anticipates hosting even more attendees for this year's ball.

Proceeds from the evening will be used to fund JA service projects throughout the year, including mentoring at the middle school level, mentoring teens at Hope Village for Children, providing school uniforms and personal hygiene items, literacy building, teacher mini-grants and the Provisional Class project.

This year's Provisional Class is presenting a project called Art for All, which seeks to celebrate the inclusiveness of children of all abilities with an emphasis on children with special needs, including intellectual and physical disabilities and autism spectrum disorder. Art for All will be held March 18 at First Baptist Church of Collinsville with the first session from 4-5:30 p.m. and the second session from 5:30-7 p.m. Admission is free for children ages 3 to 18. Registration is strongly encouraged.

"This project celebrates the importance of the arts in child growth, development, education and well-being and aims to bridge the gap of inclusivity for children of all abilities," according to the project description.

The highlight of this year's Charity Ball will be the presentation of the 2024 King and Queen, Marion Lloyd, or M.L., Waters and Rhonda Poole, and their court.

A native of Meridian, Poole is the daughter of Jimmy and Ann Alexander. A graduate of West Lauderdale High School, she has been married to her high school sweetheart, Ed Poole, for 39 years. They have two daughters: Victoria Nosco and Alex Poole. Victoria is married to Charlie Nosco, and they have two sons: Louis and Peter.

Poole started her own retail business, Rhonda's Connection, in 1985 near downtown Meridian and later expanded and relocated to north Meridian, where she built her own building with extra leasing space. After 23 years in operation, she closed Rhonda's Connection and started Poole Properties.

Her volunteerism began with the Junior Auxiliary of which she is a lifetime member. She has served on the board of the Meridian Little Theatre, Boys & Girls Club of East MS and Lamar School Foundation Board, having served as a board president. She is an active partner of Mississippi Children's Museum-Meridian, where she works with various committees, and has served as Judges' Chair for Distinguished Young Women, as well as has judged several programs within the state. A longtime member of the Hope Village Guild, Poole served as a past president and chairperson for the Run for Hope as well as the Hope Village 10th Anniversary Gala. She continues to donate numerous hours of volunteer work to Hope Village.

The Pooles have been long-time members of Northcrest Baptist Church, where she has served on the pre-school committee, the counting committee and the Student Center Building committee.

Waters was born in Columbus and is a graduate of Heritage Academy and Mississippi State University. He joined his father and two brothers, Mike and David, in the family business, Waters Truck and Tractor. In the mid-1970s, the brothers purchased the International truck dealership in Meridian and formed Waters International Trucks Inc. The company has expanded to include six dealerships around the state, and the brothers' three sons have now joined Waters International, becoming the fourth generation to play an integral part in the family business.

An Eagle Scout, Waters is a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity and has volunteered and served on numerous boards in different capacities in Meridian. He serves on the Meridian Community College Foundation Board, which sponsors the Tuition Guarantee Program for area high school graduates. He has held the offices of vice president, president and presently serves on the Finance Committee. A member of the East Mississippi Business Development Corporation, Waters has served on the Board of Directors and has held various offices including president. He is a charter member of the Alliance for Growth. He was awarded the Hartley D. Peavey Entrepreneur Excellence Award and previously has been recognized as MCC Philanthropist of the Year. He recently retired from the Mississippi Power Company Board of Directors after 12 years of service.

Waters is married to lifetime JA member Kim Mosley Waters and they have two children, Cori Waters and Josh Water, and a granddaughter, Callie Waters. Josh is married to Christin Waters.

The Waters are members of Central Baptist Church, where he serves as chairman of the board and has served on various church committees.

Advanced purchase of JA Charity Ball tickets is required. Tickets can be purchased on the Junior Auxiliary website at jameridian.com. General admission to the JA Ball is $100 per person. VIP tickets, which include 6:30 p.m. early entry, reserved parking and seating, and $25 in casino chips, are $150 per person. Donations to the Junior Auxiliary can also be made when purchasing tickets.

Contact Glenda Sanders at gsanders@themeridianstar.com.