Reimagining How We Serve

By: Fara Foster, Director of Communications & Community Engagement

The hearts of those who serve others are determined to do just that, whether in times of plenty or scarcity. Even in a city consistently ranked among the most generous in the country, ministries and non-profits continuously explore creative ways to raise the funds needed to continue serving. For them, adaptability and creativity are second nature.

Those characteristics have defined the team at Advance Memphis for more than 20 years. Founded in 1999 with the intent of stirring economic stability in South Memphis, Steve Nash and his team have developed programs to reach and benefit some of the most underserved among us. From financial literacy to job readiness and entrepreneurship, their entire mission is to serve others as they break cycles of unemployment and establish stability, all by the power of Jesus Christ.

How they do that is a bit different this year. When their Work Life classes resumed after the COVID-related pause, they condensed their course to four-weeks and eliminated their usual electives. Class size has been reduced to allow for additional space between students. Their Faith and Finance class is now offered online.

When it came to their largest annual fundraiser, they had to literally reimagine how to hold this one-night event. For nine years, Art for Jobs was an invitation for supporters and friends to gather in the Advance warehouse to enjoy fellowship, food and entertainment, all the while purchasing art to support Advance programming. To hold this event, the entire format had to change just as their class format had.

That lead to Art for Jobs Reimagined – three days of private gallery previews, culminating with a three-hour online art sale. The 10th Annual Art for Jobs turned out to be the most successful to date. By latest count, over 170 works of art were sold and more than $210,000 raised. “We were so encouraged by the generosity of our sponsors,” said Kelsey Dees, Community Engagement Manager for Advance. “Even businesses impacted by the pandemic still gave.”

The zip codes most served by Advance Memphis, 38126 and 38106, experienced some of the highest unemployment rates even pre-pandemic. Where over 60% of residents earn less than $25,000 per year and half are jobless, it is even more urgent that we look to serve these neighbors. Our family of companies gratefully honors the work done by Advance Memphis and their various ministry partners.

In a year during which the way we are accustomed to working no longer works, we believe these are the exact organizations we should all look to for inspiration.

*Video credit: Advance Memphis

Advance Memphis will launch their next Work Life classes on October 12. For information on class offerings or how to support this ministry through donations, volunteering or hiring graduates, please visit advancememphis.org.