Volunteers are Heroes: The Giving Heart of Mable Wiggins
Editor’s Note: Since this holiday issue is partly focused on volunteering, we thought we’d profile a special South Mississippian who gives all of her heart to help both kids and adults. We’d like to introduce you to Mrs. Mable Wiggins. Let her story be an example to us all during this holiday season; it represents the spirit of giving that Christmas creates, as well as the “fresh start” that every New Year inspires.
In the poem “East Coker,” T. S. Eliot wrote: “each venture is a new beginning.”
Mrs. Mable Wiggins knows about fresh starts. In 2019, after 32 years of living in Florida and becoming a widow, this mother, grandmother and great-grandmother moved back to her place of origin: Lucedale, Mississippi. It was at the urging of her family.
“It was time for Mom to come home,” she says.
Wiggins celebrated her 80th birthday in November. Her granddaughter, Tiffany O’Neal, describes her as a compassionate, loving, “Proverbs 31” woman.
At the suggestion of daughter-in-law Karen Fields, Wiggins started her work as a volunteer at SouthernCare Hospice in Lucedale. In just a few months, she had already logged 110 hours of service!
“She serves more hours than anyone volunteering for hospice,” said SouthernCare Hospice Volunteer Coordinator Sonja Foshee, who directs 16 volunteers, including her own 16-year-old son, Levi. Showing her own appreciation for hospice leadership, Wiggins called Foshee “a gem.”
Wiggins volunteers on Tuesdays and Thursdays. In her client’s home, she cleans the kitchen, sweeps the floor and washes the dishes. Wiggins’ current patient loves coffee and pink flowers, provided by Honey Bee Florist in Lucedale.
Motivated only by kindness, Wiggins provides the conversation and hugs. She says older people are often ignored, and it’s important to love them and let them know you care.
She described her favorite part of being a volunteer: “When I walk in the door…the smile I see on their faces.”
Her daughter-in-law, Karen Fields, makes delicious plain pound cakes to share with the patients and their caregivers. Wiggins provides respite for caregivers. An 89-year-old husband is then free to ride his tractor and finish his work.
Wiggins is a member of Shady Grove Baptist Church, where she also volunteers. The church’s Lisa Pope O’Neal calls Wiggins “a sweet, kind, Christian lady.” O’Neal said she contributes by delivering Backpack Buddies to local schools, so that needy children can have food for the weekends at home.
She also distributes boxes to some of the same students during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Wiggins manages the church’s Operation Christmas Child program, sponsored by Samaritan’s Purse International Relief. She said this year, 110 boxes are in the works.
Wiggins is part of S.A.L.T. (Senior Adults Living Triumphantly) at church, and is an affiliate of the Missions Committee that raises funds and donates to groups and individuals.
As if that’s not enough, she also works at the George/Greene Food Bank.
She admits that sometimes, she simply cannot say “no.”
Martin Luther King, Jr. said that anybody could serve.
“You only need a heart full of grace,” he said. “A soul generated by love.”
If you ask me, that sounds a lot like Mrs. Mable Wiggins.
Mary C. Fairley is a wife, mother, and grandmother who lives in Lucedale with her husband, Buddy. She’s a graduate of USM. In addition to Parents & Kids-South Mississippi and Parents & Kids-Northeast Mississippi, Mary’s work has been featured in Country Woman, De Soto Magazine | Exploring the South, and Mississippi Magazine.
98 Glen Oaks Drive, Lucedale
Phone: (601) 947-9282
Shady Grove Baptist Church
14146 MS-26, Lucedale
Phone: (601) 947-3546
The George/Green Baptist Association Food Bank