Refill Café

Hospitality has been one of the hardest-hit industries in the country after COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders kept many people from venturing out to restaurants and limiting all nonessential travel. Despite its own closure, one local eatery and nonprofit found a way to support restaurant workers.

Refill Café, a casual restaurant and nonprofit workforce training program in Jackson, stepped up to provide assistance to foodservice industry workers who lost their jobs or experienced reduced hours because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The organization gave $50 checks to help these individuals purchase groceries and supplies or simply make ends meet. 

Learn more about Refill Café by visiting the organization’s website or following them on social media.

Mississippi organizations, like Refill Café, demonstrate through their tireless efforts to serve their community, that our state is truly the most generous state in the nation. Thank you to the entire team for being an example of what it means to show compassion for our neighbors.

Mississippi Alliance of Nonprofits and Philanthropy

The Mississippi Alliance of Nonprofits and Philanthropy (The Alliance) works to build capacity and foster collaboration among and between nonprofits and philanthropic communities. Although COVID-19 has made it more challenging for nonprofits and philanthropic organizations to connect, The Alliance is finding meaningful ways to bring people and organizations together across Mississippi.

The organization is providing resources to nonprofits to help them navigate virtual teams and remote working. The program team provides weekly webinars that highlight best practices from organizations and experts around the state who are working on COVID-19 response efforts. 

The Alliance has also created a COVID-19 resources hub with information relevant to philanthropy, nonprofits, and individuals. The resource hub includes information about how nonprofits can apply for the Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program. 

We are grateful for The Alliance’s leadership. We applaud their efforts to continue creating community and collaboration among charitable organizations and donors.

COVID-19 and Extra Table

The global COVID-19 pandemic has left thousands of Mississippians without a job or a way to provide for their families. Many families who have never depended on food pantries are now seeking help to ensure their families have food, as many of them have severely depleted their food supply. This new reality means food pantries need extra support to meet the needs of people in their communities. Thankfully, in Mississippi, we have Extra Table, a nonprofit that is working tirelessly to fill this need.

Extra Table is committed to ending hunger in Mississippi. The organization provides new and healthy food to food pantries and soup kitchens to feed the hungry. In addition to providing food to Mississippi’s 40 food pantries and soup kitchens, Extra Table recently kicked off a #NowMoreThanEver t-shirt fundraiser to raise money to support the immediate need for food that families across Mississippi are facing. To support this cause you can purchase a t-shirt and support their work visit their website.

Thank you, Extra Table, for going the extra mile to help Mississippians thrive during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are proud to call you a partner.

#allinthistogether #Mississippistrong

Thalia Mara Hall Renovations Fund

Jackson’s city auditorium has a history of brilliant and breathtaking performances spanning more than five decades. But Thalia Mara Hall, the home of the USA International Ballet Competition, among many other organizations, got a little down-at-the-heels. A facelift to make sure the space where artistic stars shine was just as stellar lead a group of private and public sector stakeholders to launch an ambitious renovation project.

Dedicated in 1968, the auditorium was a community effort to replace a former armory which then served as the performance hall for the capital city. Modeled on mid-century design principles, the building became a beacon of civic pride and community leadership. Named for the ambassador of ballet in Mississippi, Thalia Mara, the hall saw near-continuous use, despite aging city infrastructure, changing patron habits, budget concerns and expectations for amenities. By 2013, something needed to be done. That fall, a group of private and public sector stakeholders formed Friends of Thalia Mara Hall to raise funds to pay for much-needed renovations to this majestic structure. The quadrennial USA International Ballet Competition was scheduled for the following June, so not just money was the challenge. The timeline was just as much a factor in whether the renovation could be completed. The Friends of Thalia Mara established a fund at the Community Foundation, and within months, the group raised $1.5 million in private contributions. This impressive pool of charitable investments was added to a $3 million investment from the City of Jackson and $1 million in state bond funds to support the first phase of the renovation project – which was indeed complete just in time for the June 2014 USA IBC.

Using the Community Foundation saved time, as the only other option would have been for the Friends of Thalia Mara Hall to become a nonprofit organization – something which takes a lot of time and money, and was unnecessary for a project with an end date. It gave donors a sense of security that their donations would be spent only for the designated project, along with their tax deduction. Operating the “back office” through the Community Foundation also meant fundraising efforts could be concentrated on completing the project – not on overhead.

Best of all, this successful public-private partnership allows a jewel in the City’s cultural crown to glimmer again

To learn more about seating your project at the Community Foundation, contact us at info@formississippi.org.

Peggy Huff Harris Fund

A Vision for Legacy
Peggy Huff Harris had a legacy to leave. She came to the Community Foundation to help write her last chapter.

Left an inheritance by her son, Peggy wanted to create a lasting memorial to him while helping the nonprofits she admired most. From filling pantries to fulfilling the promise of public broadcasting, her bequest to start an endowed fund keeps supporting the charities close to her heart and tells an ongoing story of her family. The Thomas G. Ramey and Peggy Huff Harris Fund supports seven charitable organizations every year, and will continue to, for good. Forever. It’s inspiring to see how ordinary people can create a transformational gift – not because it’s large, but because it’s planned. It’s thoughtful. It’s visionary. What’s the vision you have for your last chapter? Let us help you write it.

Reach us at info@formississippi.org.

Revitalize Jackson Fund

From Healing Bodies to Healing Neighborhoods
One retired physician has committed to helping his town eradicate blight by cleaning lots, clearing debris and creating green spaces and safe places for the community.

Jim Johnston is on a mission. “Blight is a cancer,” Johnston says. “It spreads, and eventually it will kill a community. It starts on a street, perhaps. Then spreads to a neighborhood. Eventually blight will kill our city.”

A retired doctor, Jim approached treating this urban cancer the same way he approached a diseased patient: evaluate the symptoms, determine the cause of the illness, research and apply a treatment with a cure as the ultimate goal.

He has partnered with other concerned citizens to cure the problem. His keen analytical skills and diagnostic training were important to finding a solution, but the real key was listening to neighbors and making them partners in the success. Early on, Jim came to the Community Foundation for help. Through the Revitalize Jackson Fund, he focused his fundraising efforts and project plans to root out and destroy dilapidated, abandoned and trash-filled properties. He convinced others to contribute money to realize the dream of a revitalized capital city. So much so, the nonprofit Revitalize Mississippi took shape and is now working across the state to identify vacant lots and houses and put them into the hands of neighbor groups to maintain and redevelop.

That’s the short-term treatment. The long-term cure requires something more. “Blight eradication is the essential first step,” he says. “But real revitalization requires the active participation of the residents for it to work.”

To that end, a group of like-minded people created the Action for Jackson Fund and is securing financial resources to create a Community Land Trust (CLT). This model will let neighbor groups take ownership of and rehabilitate these properties. “We need partnerships with the city, the county, the state, neighborhood groups and the private sector to make this work,” Johnston says.

The Rosemont neighborhood is first up. Once a blighted area with rampant crime, it is now a testament to the power of neighbors committed to turning things around. “There is so much potential here,” he says. “The neighborhood has already done the hard part – addressed crime, cleaned streets and lots. They are excited about using the Community Land Trust model to truly revitalize the area.”

Long-term community change means working together to diagnose the problem, research and begin a treatment and ultimately find a cure. You might even say it takes a village. What does your village need to cure? What can your community become? Imagine the future you want to see. We can help.

To learn more about how the Community Foundation can help you imagine ways improve your community, email info@formississippi.org.