HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - We've all heard the saying "practice what you preach." A Bay St. Louis woman who says she's dedicated her life to doing just that.
Connie Lyons is known to most folks around Hancock County as simply Momma Connie. You might call her a community social worker who has helped dozens of people over the years who have hit rock bottom pull themselves out of some deep dark places.
"I've always had a heart from a young girl living in New York at 10 and 12 years old seeing the homeless on the streets, giving them my food, buying hot dogs at 10 and 12 years old. So I guess it kind of started there, not knowing later in life I'd grow up to be an outreach minister," explained Lyons.
She has run "Under The Olive Tree Ministries" in Hancock County for the past 8 years. On this day she visits the 'King's Kitchen', a local soup kitchen, to meet with a young couple she calls her most recent success story.
"We literally lost everything except each other," said Chasity Tomack.
Her husband Nick said, "We stayed high and stayed in the woods secluded to ourselves."
They say thanks to help and support from Lyons, the couple went from being homeless living in the woods to living in a car to now homeowners.
"It started going uphill from there once we started going to church," explained Nick.
Chasity teared up as she said, "If it wasn't for her (Lyons) she really guided us to do the right thing. And she was hard on us every once in a while. That's what a mother is supposed to do, that's why I call her Momma Connie."
Both Chasity and Nick are now working and recently celebrated one year drug free.
Lyons told the couple, "I'm so proud of you guys."
Momma Connie's helping hands have touched many other people in the community.
"If it wasn't for her helping us out with money, gas and a roof over our heads we wouldn't be here right now," said Danny Porter. He said he and his family recently found themselves homeless and dropped by the King's Kitchen to enjoy a hot lunch.
A couple of weeks ago Lyons travels to Lucedale to visit a young man she helped enroll into "City Of Refuge". It's a drug and alcohol treatment facility.
Lyons brought the young man several bags of snacks and hygiene products. It had been two months since she had seen him last. She reunited with him with a big hug.
Lyons said to him, "City of Refuge here is an anointed place. So we're so elated about the change God is making in your life, and it is God that will make this change."
For Momma Connie, helping to mend the broken is her calling.
"My main goal is to get them back spiritually strong, mentally, emotionally financially and get them in a place where they can now build a bridge for someone else to cross over," explained Lyons.
Under the Olive Tree Ministries operates through donations. If you'd like to help contact Connie Lyons at 228-263-0963 or e-mail her at Clyons78998@gmail.com.