VICKSBURG, Miss. (WJTV) – Along the Mississippi River in Vicksburg, the flood walls tell the stories of the historic city through murals that salute victories and commemorate tragedies.
The woman behind the project is Nellie Caldwell.
“It was hard work. It was really hard work. But the first mural, I thought if we could get one up, that would solve the problem, everybody else would say ‘Whoo! Let me do that, you know?’ That wasn’t the case,” stated Caldwell.
With charisma and passion, Caldwell rallied her community to donate thousands of dollars for the mural project, which has not become a tourist attraction. It’s a legacy she leaves by the river.
“It took eight years of my life for the murals. And when I finished, I said never ever again will I do a project that long.”
But, Caldwell was wrong. Her selfless spirit didn’t allow her to stop serving her community. In 2012, she helped start what has now become her daily act of service – the Lifting Lives Family Shelter. Caldwell says it’s the largest family shelter in Mississippi. It used to be an abandoned motel, but the shelter now houses a dozen families.
Caldwell and the Lifting Lives Ministries work to get them back on their feet. Just last year, they helped more than 360 families with shelter or food. They also provide school uniforms for the children and help the adults find jobs.
“To think of a family being split. And your kids go here, and you go there. I can’t imagine. I just cannot imagine,” said Caldwell. “Even though they are crowded, most of our families come from sleeping in their cars, if they have a car. Just seeing them together is one of the most rewarding things.”