By Melody Worsham
Throughout the year, GTP features news and activities at our local nonprofit organizations. We do this for a number of reasons, but the most important reasons are to keep you informed about how you can be more connected to your community, and to show you the many ways we celebrate humanity in our community. Charities on the Mississippi Gulf Coast offer some of the finest entertainment events. From galas to banquets, to sports events and celebrity performances, our local nonprofits provide things to do, people to see and places to go all year long. And we don’t just report about local charities. Staff members are active volunteers in the community, and GTP proudly sponsors events and fundraisers for a number of organizations.
In 2010, GTP featured a number of charitable activities and information. We started by providing suggestions by the Humane Society of South Mississippi on how you can protect your pet from harsh weather. HSSM is not just an animal shelter. It is also a hub for pet-related news and information designed to enhance your family’s enjoyment of pet ownership. HSSM provides training tips, vaccinations, spay/neuter services, and educational programs for children. HSSM is housed in a state-of-the-art facility on Highway 49 in Gulfport, where pet adoptions are a joy. If you are not able to adopt at this time, you can sign up be a “foster parent” instead! While you are visiting HSSM, stop in to see the bargains at the Thrift Store, and be sure to shop the The BowWow Boutique Gift Shop. And don’t forget to bring a bag of pet food to donate. You can also get your entire office involved in helping HSSM by collecting and donating shredded paper, which is used to pad the beds of the shelter’s furry residents. Visit HSSM’s website to learn more about their programs and how you can get involved. www.hssm.org
The next featured charity of 2010 was the Knight Nonprofit Center in Gulfport. The center, designed to support local charities, is owned by four anchor organizations – The Gulf Coast Business Council, United Way of South Mississippi, the Coast Chamber and the Gulf Coast Community Foundation. With a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the building was renovated to be administrative office space for hundreds of nonprofits. The Knight Center also provides premier meeting facilities of all sizes, a banquet kitchen, a mail room, and security, all at prices affordable to even the smallest nonprofit organization. In the past year, the Knight Center has been host to the many state agencies and relief and volunteer organizations that set up on the Gulf Coast to serve those affected by the BP Oil Spill. The center has been the meeting place of visiting out-of-state and national dignitaries and officials. The Knight Center is currently inviting local businesses and nonprofits to use the facility for their next meeting or conference so they can showcase everything they have to offer. www.knpcenter.org
GTP was also proud to report the grand opening of the new Boys & Girls Club in North Biloxi. The center serves children of all backgrounds, ethnicities and income levels, and enrollment is a very affordable $25 per year. With a substantial grant from IP Casino Resort Spa, the new facility is complete with art rooms, study areas, computer facilities, and unrivaled after-school programs and therapeutic behavioral programs for teenagers. The Club’s staff is committed to providing the services and resources that will prepare today’s children to be tomorrow’s community leaders. You can support the Boys & Girls Club of the Gulf Coast by attending one of their many fundraising events. Enjoy a delicious steak dinner, play a round of golf, dance the night way, and you’ll be helping your community by strengthening the character and minds of our children. www.bgcgulfcoast.org
Jay Leno stopped by in August to do a benefit performance for the victims of the BP Oil Spill, and GTP had the pleasure of featuring the exciting news about the late night TV star’s visit. “It’s great to be able to do shows like this,” said Mr. Leno. “We tell a few jokes and help out people.” The funds raised went to the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, which in turn distributed the money to local nonprofit human services and animal welfare agencies to assist in the recovery process. The Foundation provides grants to worthy causes, and develops and manages a comprehensive base of funds, totaling nearly $32 million dollars. Leno’s show raised more then $100,000 for the Gulf Coast. “Not only is Jay one of the country’s premier comedians, he and his wife Mavis are incredibly generous people,” said George P. Corchis, Jr., president of Beau Rivage in Biloxi. To know more about the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, visit their website at http://www.gulfcoastcf.org
For the fifth year now, the Mississippi Gulf Coast was chosen to be one of only 30 locations nationwide to host the annual St. Jude’s Dream House Giveaway, and GTP was here to give you the details on how you could become the winner. In the last 18 years, St. Jude has given away almost 200 homes across the country, and has raised more than $100 million dollars to care for children with cancer. More than $650,000 was raised on the Gulf Coast in 2010. Local partners of the fundraising campaign included Westin Homes, The Village at Tradition, WLOX, K99 FM, Sun Herald, Luckies Furniture, First Bank and Trust, New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton, Bill Homes, Allen Toyota, Edgewater Mall, Mississippi Coast Coliseum, and Sports Shack. This year’s Dream House winner was Carlton Mayton of Biloxi. Other prizes such as Saints tickets, $1000 shopping sprees, resort packages and Season Hockey tickets, were won by thirteen other Gulf Coast residents. www.stjude.org
GTP ended the year with informational articles on how you can be more involved in your community and how giving to others can reduce stress and enhance your own quality of life. Ben Franklin noted, “everyone has courage and enough to spare.” There are ways for you to be a blessing, and to give courage, to others by giving. As we move into the New Year, the staff at GTP hopes you will continue to stay informed and stay connected through our charity articles. Dance, sing, laugh, walk the bridge or ride a bike… and do it for any number of good causes!
GTP would also like to encourage nonprofit organizations to reach out to us for event announcements, advertisements and sponsorships. Let us know what we can do to help your cause. If you know a charity you’d like for us to cover, send us an email or give us a call. We look forward to sharing your things to do, people to see and places to go with our readers throughout the New Year. www.GoToPlaces.net