This Mississippi Minister Is Helping Single Moms Build Better Futures for Their Families
“Barriers need to be broken,” says Rev. Carol Burnett. “And breaking them is hard work.” She knows from personal experience: In the 1980s, Burnett was among the first women ordained as United Methodist ministers in Mississippi.
Today, she helps low-income women, most of them single mothers, find their places in the male-dominated construction field. She serves as the executive director of Moore Community House in Biloxi, Mississippi, an organization that provides women with training to land those lucrative jobs. “Only 2% of the employees in [the Mississippi construction] industry are women, but the pay is great,” says Burnett. The organization is working to move that needle.
In addition to training, the Moore Community House’s Women in Construction program offers childcare, as Burnett believes accessible childcare is the way to get more Mississippians to work. “Targeting single moms is important. Moving them into higher-paying jobs and making sure that they have childcare along the way is important,” says Burnett.
When Ethel Williams was accepted into the program, she and her five children moved from Jackson to the Gulf Coast. After graduation, she sought further training to become a welder. “I was the only woman when I went into my welding program,” says Williams. “It made me feel like I stood in the gap for all of those who would come behind me.” But she also recognizes the significance of one woman who went before her: Burnett. “She is a pioneer,” says Williams. “She not only advocates for women, but she also gives them the resources to help them advocate for themselves and their community. She has just the right amount of passion and purpose. She’s small in stature but big in spirit.”