Charity Ball Queen Mary Helen Porter and King Fred Miller Hayslett were presented at the 69th annual Junior Auxiliary of Columbus Charity Ball Saturday evening at Trotter Convention Center. Photo by: Chris Jenkins Photography
Frank Gates Griffin, left, and Clifton Thomas Scott served as Charity Ball pages Saturday. Griffin, page to the king, is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Mitchell Frank Griffin. He is the grandson of former king E. Frank Griffin III, great-nephew of former king Andrew Miller Griffin and cousin of former queen Mary Frances Caldwell. Scott, page to the queen, is the son of Dr. and Mrs. Clifton Shane Scott. His mother, Rebecca Berry Scott, and cousin, Laura Beth Berry Harrison, are former Charity Ball queens. His uncle, Jerryld Reau Berry, was 2018 Charity Ball king.
Photo by: Chris Jenkins Photography
March 30, 2019 9:56:31 PM
An evening of pageantry and a focus on service marked the introduction of the Junior Auxiliary of Columbus 2019 Charity Ball king and queen Saturday at Trotter Convention Center in Columbus. The presentation of King Fred Miller Hayslett and Queen Mary Helen Porter at the 69th annual event brought cheers from a capacity crowd. Festivities also included introduction of the royal court, 13 high school seniors who have collectively performed more than 1,300 hours of service in their community, schools and churches.
The ball and Junior Auxiliary's annual Report to the Community support the nonprofit chapter's numerous year-round service projects for children throughout Lowndes Count.
King Fred Miller Hayslett is a fifth generation Columbus native. He is married to Dr. Cindy Hayslett, a life member of Columbus Junior Auxiliary. His aunt, the late Putt Burris, was also a life member of JA. His stepchildren, Joseph Macrae Harris and Jennifer Harris Jones, are past members of the Charity Ball court.
King Fred is a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi where he was president of the Yellow Jackets Service Organization, treasurer of Omicron Delta Kappa Leadership Society and a member of the Activities Council. He was also on the Student Justice Court and elected outstanding freshman.
He was a member of Kappa Sigma Fraternity, president of his pledge class and chosen outstanding pledge. He was twice elected grand master of the fraternity.
Hayslett served two years active duty in the United States Army and four years in the Active Reserves.
As a young adult, he participated in Operation Tomorrow, which developed leaders in public service. He was also the Chamber of Commerce's representative in the Mississippi Economic Council's leadership program.
Hayslett served on the Columbus City Council and as Justice Court judge. In addition, he was a member of the Kiwanis Club and Chamber of Commerce and on the Golden Triangle Planning Development District's board.
At age 44, he was elected mayor of Columbus. He set a goal of leading the town to the forefront of Mississippi economy and became a pioneer of Columbus' economic growth into the 21st century.
As mayor, he helped revitalize downtown Columbus. He called for the renovation of deteriorating buildings and started a street paving program. He also initiated the public/private partnership of the Main Street Program.
As mayor, Hayslett was also focused on Columbus' transportation problems. He worked with other leaders to replace the old Tombigbee River bridge and to develop Columbus' belt-like road system. In addition, Gov. Fordice appointed him to the US 82 Four-lane Construction Authority to lead highway development between neighboring states.
In other areas, Hayslett worked with the Parks and Recreation Association to update recreational facilities at Propst Park, and he started programs for senior citizens. He was also heavily involved in the Luxapalila Channelization Project that brought flood relief to the city.
After his mayoral term, he worked at Columbus Light & Water and became general manager. He was also vice president of the Tennessee Valley Power Association and a member of LINK.
During this time, Columbus Air Force Base was facing closure. Hayslett was a member of the Base Community Council and was appointed head of CAFB 2000, a task force that worked to keep the base open. The group met with Mississippi congressmen, senators and Air Force representatives in Washington, D.C., to promote CAFB. Along with 700 local citizens, they also met with the Base Closure Commission in Atlanta. There Fred presented Columbus' arguments against base closure to hundreds of people in the Fox Theater.
CAFB was taken off the closure list. For Hayslett's diligent work and commitment, Base Commander Col. Gary Trexlar named him his "wingman," an honor given to the community leader most responsible for the base's success during the commander's term.
The Charity Ball king is a lifelong member of First United Methodist Church and in the Ivy Sunday School class. He also volunteers at Loaves and Fishes Community Soup Kitchen and helps with Franklin Academy's Backpack Program. In addition, he is a member of USM's Alumni Organization, the USM Eagle Club and the Kappa Sigma Alumni Association.
Queen Mary Helen Porter is the daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Steven Mark Porter. She is the granddaughter of Ms. Dorothy Porter, Mrs. Karen Porter and the late Dr. Walt Porter, of Columbus, and the late Mr. and Mrs. Ellis E. Koonce Jr. of Tunica. Her mother, Dona, is a life member of Junior Auxiliary, and her father was in three of the past Junior Auxiliary original plays.
The Charity Ball queen graduated magna cum laude from Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Faith and Social Justice in December 2018. She is a part of Alpha Chi, Omicron Kappa Delta and Theta Alpha Kappa. Mary Helen also received the Zondervan Theology Award and was published twice in the Belmont Literary Journal during her time at Belmont University.
She is a member of Kappa Alpha Theta, where she served on various committees. As a part of the Philanthropy Committee, she fundraised for Court Appointed Special Advocates, which advocates for neglected children within the legal system. She served as president and vice president of UKirk Campus Ministry and spoke on various panels about faith, college and service.
Queen Mary Helen was one of the founding executives of Belmont Thistle Farmers. It is an organization that fundraises and supports Thistle Farms, a social enterprise that offers support, rehabilitation and jobs to women who have been trafficked, imprisoned and abused. She participated in a reconciliation project in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, where she met with Lakota Sioux, Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes to serve and offer childcare for the working parents.
In the summers, Mary Helen worked at Montreat Conference Center in Asheville, North Carolina, as a program assistant, data technician and counselor for Montreat Youth Conferences and Clubs. She also volunteered with Asheville Youth Mission as an intern and site leader. In this role, she led groups of youth in service projects around the city of Asheville and worked with over 10 nonprofit organizations and churches to feed and shelter adults and youth experiencing homelessness.
Mary Helen is a high school honors graduate of Interlochen Arts Academy, an international fine arts boarding school located in northern Michigan, where she majored in Comparative Arts. Interlochen allowed her to travel abroad to Italy, Greece, France and England where she collaborated with countless international students.
Among her awards and activities, she received the Fine Arts Award and the Young Artist Award, the highest award given to promising artists at this institution. While she was a part of various projects and performances, she was a part of a collaborative project recognized as the national winner of the College Board Award for Excellence and Innovation in the Arts.
Mary Helen also attended Starkville Academy, Columbus High School and Columbus Middle School where she was in the National Honor Society, won various artistic awards at the local and state level, was a Daughters of the American Revolution award recipient, and a varsity cheerleader. She served in the Charity Ball court in 2015.
The Charity Ball queen is a member of First Presbyterian Church in Columbus. This community inspired her to pursue higher education in theology and its relation to society.
Her interest in religion, social justice and the arts allowed her to realize her passion for local communities and the artistic infrastructure that is representative of the community's intricate narratives. She will be pursuing a career in architecture where she hopes to design sustainable living and affordable housing for people who have experienced homelessness. In the summer she will attend Tulane University to pursue a Masters of Architecture in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Charity Ball royalty through the past decade
2009 Mr. James C. Galloway
Miss Elizabeth Harper Ferguson
2010 Mr. Eugene Beard "Gene" Imes
Miss Jennifer Rose Adams
2011 Mr. John Thompson Bean III
Miss Madeline Frances Hardy
2012 Mr. Raymond Michael Waters III
Miss Kendyl Diane Hall
2013 John Eugene Reed Jr.
Miss Margaret Fairfax Davis
2014 Mr. Elton Sigrest Thomas Jr.
Miss Madison Ann Ford
2015 Mr. Thomas Leyton (Bud) Phillips
Miss Caroline Emily Borland
2016 Mr. Thomas Evans Whitaker
Miss Anna Gaines Gaskin
2017 Mr. George Stephenson Hazard Jr.
Miss Margaret Jane Butler
2018 Mr. Jerryld Reau Berry
Miss Ashley Megill Imes
2. Black Prairie Blues Festival to be held Friday ENTERTAINMENT