Brewton-Parker College Ministers During Irma

May 14, 2024
A volunteer colors alongside one of the children who took shelter in the Gillis Gymnasium during Tropical Storm Irma

In Colossians 3:14, Paul encourages Christians to live a life that is marked by “heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience” (HCSB). Christian volunteers from the Montgomery County and Toombs County area lived out this verse as they worked together to minister to Hurricane Irma refugees. Brewton-Parker College, which opened Gillis Gymnasium as a storm shelter, was a recipient of this multi-denominational outpouring of love and support.

The Montgomery-Toombs County area hosted refugees from Hurricane Matthew in 2016. Because of this experience, locals to the Montgomery-Toombs County area were quick to organize a Facebook group for Hurricane Irma where weather updates, current needs, and storm shelter information could be quickly accessed by volunteers and evacuees. Because of this group, volunteers were notified of the plans to open Gillis Gymnasium. They began donating supplies on Saturday.

For the Brewton-Parker College administration, offering the storm shelter went beyond meeting physical needs. Nikki Bell, Director of Human Resources and Risk Assessment Manager, shared in the online group, “We intend to make this a ministry opportunity and not just a shelter.” The list of needs she provided included children’s activity directors and leaders for small group Bible studies.

The storm shelter opened Sunday at noon. As families filed in to take shelter, volunteers hustled to make Bell’s vision a reality. Volunteers dedicated a Gillis Gymnasium classroom for children activities. While engaging in games, stories, and coloring, volunteers shared the gospel with these children. Other refugees met in the gym to play basketball or to find some community during the storm.

By Sunday evening, Brewton-Parker College hosted fifty-three individuals from the community alongside some students and staff. As the storm grew closer, a few more refugees took shelter in the gym.

As can often be witnessed, God worked through the lives of many different individuals to make this ministry possible. In addition to the Montgomery-Toombs area individuals who donated emergency supplies and time, Brewton-Parker College’s generators were supplemented with a 60kw generator provided by the Georgia Emergency Management Administration. This allowed the campus to serve its community and refugees as a Good Samaritan shelter.

President Steve Echols noted, “During some challenging times, the community has been very supportive of Brewton-Parker College. We want to be a blessing back to the community. We appreciate our dedicated staff who worked around the clock to allow us to have this ministry to share the love of Christ through providing shelter, food, and activities to those in need as a result of the storm.”

Tropical Storm Irma arrived in the Mount Vernon area on Monday, September 11. Brewton-Parker College cancelled classes the week before, so most students weathered out the storm in their respective family homes. Most of the campus lost power, but generators allowed the staff to prepare and serve food for those students who remained and for the refugees in the gym. The storm did no not cause any major damage to the main Brewton-Parker College campus.

Families sheltering on Brewton-Parker College’s campus enjoy some warm food in the cafeteria
Brewton-Parker College Ministers During Irma - Brewton-Parker College


The purpose of the nursing program is to prepare graduates who have the knowledge and skills to provide patient-centered holistic care that is safe, compassionate, honoring to Christ, and that meets the healthcare needs of diverse populations.

Mission Statement

In concert with Brewton-Parker College’s mission, the School of Nursing is committed to provide nursing education through the application of biblical truth to promote the formation of graduates who engage in evidence-based practice, lifelong learning, and servant leadership through the development of clinical reasoning, professional nursing skills, and Christian values.

Joanna Phillips-Mock

Student Enrichment Director

Joanna Phillips-Mock is a proud third generation Baron, both as a student and a staff member.

Beginning her teaching career in Middle Georgia in 1995, Mrs. Mock worked with a state funded program that served some of the most disadvantaged special needs students within the local school districts. She ultimately moved into leadership positions within the organization, serving and training others in multiple initiatives. She enjoys working with students of all ages to recognize and to achieve their greatest potential.

Mrs. Mock holds a Bachelor’s degree from Brewton-Parker College, a Master's degree in Education with a concentration in Behavior Disorders, and an Education Specialist degree in Educational Administration from Georgia College and State University. She resides in Ailey, Georgia, with her husband Don, their son Tye Lewis, her mother Carol Joyce, and multiple fur babies. She enjoys traveling, gardening, camping, and attending concerts.

Candace Lilford

Profeessional Tutor

Candace Lilford graduated with her bachelor’s degree in Theatre Generalism in 2021 from Anderson University and with her master’s degree in English Literature in 2023 from the University of Alabama. She presently serves as Professional Tutor for the Student Enrichment Center while also teaching sections of ENG 101 and 102. 

As part of her two-year master's program, Ms. Lilford taught sections of ENG 101 and 102, while also serving as teaching assistant for British Literature Survey courses and volunteering in the university’s Writing Center. Ms Lilford has also presented papers at the Hudson Strode Conference and the South Eastern Christian and Literature Conference as well as working on various theatrical productions.

Born in North Carolina of South African descent, Ms. Lilford has lived in Uganda, Botswana, South Africa, and Trinidad before settling in Mount Vernon with her family in 2016, where she attended Brewton-Parker College as a dual enrollment student. She presently resides in Mount Vernon with her family and spends her free time watching old TV shows.

Linda Armstrong

Academic Advising and Career Specialist

Linda Armstrong earned an Associate Degree in Criminal Justice Technology from Southeastern Technical College and a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Walden University. Throughout her career, Linda has worked with diverse populations, including at-risk youth and families and youth in crisis because of mental health and other issues. Her empathetic nature has made her an effective advocate for those in need. In addition to her professional work, Linda is also is committed to volunteerism. She has dedicated countless hours as a youth mentor, and to teaching about her faith at various Christian organizations. She believes in the power of positivity and its ability to transform not only her life but also the lives of others.

"If you must look back, do so forgivingly. If you will look forward, do so prayerfully. But the wisest course would be to be present in the present gratefully." ~ Maya Angelou

Willie Ford

Academic Advising and Career Specialist

Greetings, Baron Nation!

It's truly a joy to be back in a place that has shaped me so profoundly. I'm Willie Ford, a proud 2022 graduate of historic Brewton-Parker College, holding a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology with a Minor in Education. Following my graduation, I embarked on a journey in education, teaching Special Education within the Vidalia City School District. In addition to my role as an educator, I had the privilege of serving as the Unit Director at the J.D. Rabun Boys and Girls Club. All the while, I was honored to pastor at the esteemed New Hope Baptist Church of Rhine, Georgia. With God's grace, I managed these responsibilities, and now, I'm thrilled and ready to contribute to the welfare of our students, aiming to inspire through service.

Dusty Arnold

Mental Health Counselor

Dusty Arnold  is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Board Certified Behavior Analyst as well as a BPC alumnus. He has years of experience working with a variety of mental health issues including anxiety, grief, and challenges related to Autism. He specializes in behavior-related interventions that can help college students build on their strengths to set achievable goals while also learning how to deal with the thoughts and feelings that sometimes get in the way. He incorporates Biblical values and evidence-based treatments to meet students wherever they happen to be on their journey to spiritual and psychological health. 

Carl Anthony "Tony" Wardlaw

Assistant Student Enrichment Director & Student Success Coach

Carl Anthony “Tony” Wardlaw – For over 25 years, Dr. Wardlaw has worked in leadership, counseling, and pastoring. Beginning with working in middle management for a manufacturing company in Douglas, GA, Dr. Wardlaw has also worked in the academic, nonprofit, public, and private sectors. Additionally, he served over 7 years in the United States Military as a Military Intelligence Officer before resigning his commission as a Captain in the Army.

Currently serving as the Assistant Director of the Student Enrichment Center, Student Success Coach, and Adjunct Faculty at Brewton-Parker College in Mount Vernon, GA, he also serves as the Pastor of The Green Grove Missionary Baptist Church in Dublin, GA.

As a member of the renowned International Gospel Singing Group, The Wardlaw Brothers, Dr. Wardlaw has traveled all over the nation and abroad ministering and singing the Gospel of Christ Jesus. Dr. Wardlaw has served as a consultant for various agencies and has worked as a Fatherhood Coordinator and G.E.D. instructor within the Technical College System of Georgia and participates in local and national civic and philanthropic work.

Dr. Wardlaw holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in International Business from the University of Georgia, two master's degrees from Troy University (Master of Science in Clinical Counseling and Psychology and Master of Education in Counseling), and a Doctorate in Education from Argosy University in Organizational Leadership. Dr. Wardlaw is a Lifetime Silver Member of The NAACP and a member of The Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. He is happily married to the former Mrs. Stephanie Scott. They have 3 Children; Chambria, Marc, and Carleigh.

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