JACKSON, Miss.—In the 1990s, a young Ryan Case would bond with his father, Ralph Case, as the family gathered in the living room to watch reruns of “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” Ryan’s woodsy, outdoor-faring father became a fan of the franchise during its original series, which debuted in 1966, and continued his love affair with Starfleet’s adventures when the second live-action television series broadcasted in the late 1980s.
Ryan Case enjoyed learning about different alien species depicted in the franchise and how they responded when interacting with other people. As opposed to some science-fiction media of the time, “Star Trek” leaned more toward weaving social commentary into its stories over incorporating heavily choreographed action, he explained.
“The thing I like the most about (Star Trek) is that it makes humanity aspire towards that vision of man working together for the betterment of everybody,” Case told the Mississippi Free Press. “There’s no conflict in accepting people for who they are.”
“And then that other idea of just exploration, what’s out there, I’ve always been curious,” he added. “We’ll probably never get the answers, but—the things that we do—I would like to have that be a stepping stone for the next generation to be able to maybe one day get those answers.”
Case’s appreciation for the show would eventually lead him to the Starfleet International Star Trek Fan Association Inc., becoming a member of the U.S.S. Haise chapter in Jackson, Miss. The international fan club is nonprofit with chapters across the globe. Bethany Theilman started the Jackson chapter in 1995 when she moved to Mississippi from Kentucky and realized that no “ships” actively operated here.
“She wanted to continue the work that she was doing in Kentucky,” Case explained. “We try to act as a social club. Certainly we get together, have a good time, meet up for dinners, things like that. We also raise money for charities.”
‘We’re Able to Buy Groceries’
The club has raised funds for causes such as multiple sclerosis and Toys for Tots. In October, the club continued its charitable donations by giving more than $300 in gift cards for groceries and supplies to The McCoy House of Jackson, a women’s addiction-recovery center.
“Most of the women that come to our house and stay have been through an inpatient treatment center for alcohol or drug abuse,” McCoy House Chief Operating Officer Elizabeth Stoltzfus told the Mississippi Free Press. “A lot of them have trauma. A lot of them coming out of a treatment center don’t need to go back to the environment that they were in initially,”
Patients stay with the center for about 90 days, where they have routine household chores and a structured, daily schedule. While at the recovery center, they are required to attend at least three AA or 12-step meetings per week, Stoltzfus explained.
“That donation makes a lot of impact,” she said of U.S.S. Haise’s contribution. “We’re able to buy groceries (and) household supplies like toilet paper, paper towels, laundry detergent, coffee. It’s a blessing because that’s stuff we have to buy every month.”
Scott Crawford, a member of the fan club, knew people who worked with the recovery center, and from there the group reached out to the center to inform them of their donation. The interaction with the center allowed members from the club to better acquaint themselves with the center and those who worked there.
“We got to take a tour of their facility, (and) we got to interact with some of their administration,” Ryan Case said. “We actually got to meet one of their staff; she’s a former patient who stayed there. We got to interact with them, and I adore everything about how they run their facility. It was incredible.”
Case said the chapter will be meeting soon to discuss the group’s charity work for the 2023 calendar year, and he is looking to make sure the recovery center gets added to their list for an additional donation next year.
“I would like to get something added to where we volunteer our time because that facility is kind of large, and they have a lot of indoor housekeeping that the women that stay there help with and donate their time to,” Case said.
“They can’t (always) keep up with the yard work and the cleaning up of various things,” he recalled someone explaining to him. “I told them I’m a leaf blower, I can come out here. … My plan is to offer that kind of stuff as well because (it) looks like they could use it.”
Those interested in the U.S.S. Haise chapter of the Starfleet International Star Trek Fan Association can follow its Facebook page or visit its website. Both sources include Case’s contact information for anyone who would like to apply to join.
“Our ship here in Jackson, we meet on the third Saturday of every month for our get-together meetings,” he said. “If it’s an odd month, we’re at Panera Bread (249 Ridge Way) in Flowood. If it’s an even month, we’re at a member’s home.”
Recovery center Chief Operating Officer Stoltzfus said that people can support The McCoy House by shopping at its thrift store, located on 5482 N. State St. Every purchase made at the thrift store goes toward the recovery center after rent, bills and volunteers are paid first.
“That money goes back to help the ladies and to help support The McCoy House,” she said. “(People) can support us by coming to the thrift store, buying stuff or making donations of gently used items.”
Learn more about The McCoy House, its programs and how to support it at themccoyhouse.com.