The South Memphis Alliance (SMA) is hosting an annual event, The Unity Dinner, this Saturday, Oct. 13, from 6 p.m. to 8pm at the Family Life Youth Center located at 369 G.E. Patterson Avenue, behind Temple of Deliverance.
The event is a celebration to honor the work being done in South Memphis by SMA, its affiliate communities and partners. It's open to the public and is designed, in part, to foster an understanding of how families in need and young people from foster care are being served.
"This years event theme – 'Growing the Garden of Hope – One Seed at a Time' – couldn't articulate more clearly what SMA is founded on," said SMA Executive Director Reginald Milton.
"It takes all of our partners and supporters in the community to grow this garden and really make a difference. The seeds have to watered, pruned and ready to weather the storms."
Guests will be guided through the evening by DJ DeWayne Benton from FM 95.7 Hallelujah. The Elbert "Skip" Rich Award for "Civicness" will be awarded to: Sheila Flemming-Hunter with The Black Rose Foundation for Children and the Memphis CARES Mentoring Movement; the Rev. Audrey Taylor Gonzalez, with Memphis and Shelby County Juvenile Court and Foster Care Review Board; and the Women's Foundation for a Greater Memphis.
Statistics show that nationally within the first year of aging out of foster care, 50 percent of the young people will be incarcerated and within two years nearly 80 percent will have experienced homelessness. SMA is dedicated to ensuring better outcomes for these young people. Milton said its challenge is to bring awareness to the needs of the population and to raise the necessary funds to ensure positive outcomes in the areas of permanence, employment, education, housing, physical and mental healthcare, and personal and community engagement.
Founded in 2000, SMA the nonprofit agency supports neighborhood associations, civic clubs and other community entities with financial support, technical assistance and advocacy. Over the years, SMA expanded its services and includes improving the health, knowledge and stability of young people, families and communities, through social services, mentoring and advocacy. Its programs include: Dream Seekers; Project Advance to 18; Teen Plus; Hope Chest; and Stand By Me.
During the evening, SMA will share news about its expansions, including improvements to the gateway to Soulsville.