In Tupelo, it’s not about getting people to pitch in – it’s about coordinating what is usually an overwhelming response.
This is a giving community. Whether it’s for the various activities of Project Hope, the United Way, the Boys & Girls Clubs of North Mississippi or any of literally dozens of other worthwhile organizations, Tupelo’s citizenry is always ready to answer the call.
“I think one of the reasons we’ve always been so successful is because we target heart disease and diabetes, which affect so many people directly,” says Bobby Geno, president of Project Hope’s board and also a database manager at Renasant Bank’s Tupelo technology center. “People really do come up alongside us and commit themselves to helping in this ongoing battle.”
Project Hope works as a community health initiative for Lee County, and hopes to expand its programs through the entire state. It works along with the CREATE Foundation, North Mississippi Health Services Live Well Community Health Initiative, Good Samaritan Health Services Free Clinic and other groups on many annual programs, including the annual Festival of Hope, which features a survivors’ walk, education and counseling opportunities and other family-friendly activities.
Project Hope also doles out serious grant money: $72,000 in 2009. And all that is possible thanks to ongoing, solid and reliable community support, Geno says.
“We have a lot of team competitions each year, and our teams are absolutely the best at finding ways to generate income and get people involved,” Geno says. “Bake sales, T-shirt sales, you name it … there’s something going every week. Our ongoing goal is to hit $100,000 in fundraising; we’ve done it a couple of times, and we’re working towards making that happen every year.”
United Way of Northeast Mississippi
The sluggish economy has been a challenge for the United Way of Northeast Mississippi, but it’s being overcome, says Melinda Tidwell, executive director.
“We live in a great community with a rich history of giving back,” Tidwell says. “When we began, it was a way for everyone at every income level to help others. It still is that way for us here, and so even in a bad economy we can meet our goals. People who are working are giving; we’ve had a lot to overcome, but people here are so very generous, and we continue to pick up new companies who want to take part in what we do.”
Tupelo also benefits from the Link Centre, a cultural service center that is home to literally dozens of organizations offering a wide variety of services. The Girl Scouts, El Centro/Campo Brillante, Sisters Network and many, many more are at the Link Centre, along with community favorites like the Tupelo Symphony Orchestra.
Sanctuary Hospice House
On a quieter but equally important note, the Sanctuary Hospice House makes sure that terminally ill residents get the quality care and comfort they deserve as they near life’s end. The nonprofit organization provides a full range of medical services and psychological and emotional support. It has been chosen as a National Medicare Hospice Demonstration Project.
Read about other reasons Tupelo, MS is a great place to live.