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CHARITY - LOCAL
Back Bay Mission uses direct mail appeals and grant proposals to help support the organization.
Back Bay Mission, a community ministry of the United Church of Christ, serves the Missisippi Gulf Coast and the wider church community by faithful witness for social justice and compassionate service to the poor and marginalized.
THE CENTER FOR COMMUNITY MINISTRY We celebrate these accomplishments: Seminary internships at Back Bay Mission since 2000. Workshops and seminars that have been provided to the wider church and local community on topics of community health ministries and leadership development. Sabbatical residencies that have been provided to UCC clergy on the Back Bay Mission campus. Unique short-term classroom experiences that have been provided college students and seminarians. Students from Eden Seminary, Defiance College and Chicago Theological Seminary have participated in classes here. Internships in this and other Mission program areas for local university students. COMMUNITY EMPOWERMENT AND SOCIAL CHANGE The Community Empowerment ministry of Back Bay Mission serves the local and wider communities and initiates fundamental systemic change through grassroots community organizing and advocacy. For more than 80 years, Back Bay Mission has worked on Mississippi’s Gulf Coast to assist those who have been marginalized by their poverty, race, lack of education or other life circumstances. The Mission has developed a proven model of community organizing and change as it birthed 10 new human service agencies, nurtured them to maturity, then spun them off as independent entities that continue to flourish and serve in extraordinary ways. Those agencies include Harrison County Head Start Gulf Coast Women’s Center Mississippi Coast Interfaith Disaster Task Force Interfaith Hospitality Network Gulf Coast Family Counseling Loaves & Fishes Soup Kitchen South Mississippi AIDS Task Force, Inc. Biloxi Cooperative Church Ministry Open Doors Homeless Coalition Today’s priority is moving the Mission’s community development and advocacy commitments forward. Among the top issues are homelessness, affordable housing and the establishment by the Mississippi Legislature of a statewide Housing Fund. Dena Wittmann, Ph.D.,is Back Bay Mission’s Community Empowerment Associate. MISSION EDUCATION Back Bay Mission became widely known in other parts of the country as staff members traveled to local church congregations providing the “Shrimp Boil” dinner for which the Mission became famous. The dinner and fellowship it offered was a means of sharing information and news of the Mission and its ministry. Hundreds of people each year had an opportunity to learn of Back Bay Mission’s work at the same time they met the delicacy (shrimp) that was at the root of the ministry’s origin. Hurricane Katrina changed Coast life, making it difficult for the Mission to continue this tradition. Perhaps sometime in the future we will once again be able to travel far and wide, telling our story through “Shrimp Boil” dinners. HOUSING RECOVERY/WORK CAMPING This program is one of Back Bay Mission’s trademarks within the United Church of Christ. Back Bay Mission has developed a highly successful style of work camping based on experiential learning. While the “work” in work camping has become more intense and the term “housing recovery” more appropriate since Hurricane Katrina, BBM’s model of work camping is more in demand than ever. It places equal emphasis on productivity (home rehabilitation or construction) and learning, using an action-reflection model. This powerful method helps people internalize their learning at the same time they build cohesive caring groups. DIRECT SERVICES Back Bay Mission provides direct service
s to clients in the form of Emergency Assistance, mortgage, rent, utility relief, prescription medications, transportation assistance and other miscellaneous items information and referral services case management support sack lunches and hygiene kits to the homeless HOME AT LAST (HAL) Home At Last (HAL) was created in May 2002 to provide at Back Bay Mission a more concrete response to homelessness. The program provides permanent housing and supportive services to homeless people who are also disabled, placing them in leased apartments that are identified, furnished and paid for by Back Bay Mission. A HAL caseworker Roxxanne Watts administers the program, providing case management to those it serves. The caseworker also conducts outreach in soup kitchens, shelters, on beaches and in the local streets to build relationships of trust with the homeless community and identify people who are eligible for HAL or other homeless services. Home At Last is funded primarily by a grant from the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Department. Fourteen apartments are currently occupied. AFFORTABLE HOUSING INITIATIVE Affordable housing has emerged as the top post-Katrina concern on the Mississippi Gulf Coast because of the enormous loss of housing stock up and down the Coast. Back Bay Mission volunteers, and many others from across the nation, continue working feverishly to restore salvageable property. For more than 30 years, the Mission has sought to maintain the affordable housing stock on the Mississippi Coast through its low-income rehabilitation program. Since Hurricane Katrina’s destruction, Back Bay Mission has positioned itself to go a step further by establishing a new affordable housing initiative. With an estimated 65,000 homes destroyed by Hurricane Katrina and 64,000 more extensively damaged, many poorer neighborhoods have not the least capacity to recover. City officials, social service providers and many others have all recognized the need to provide new affordable housing options along the Coast. While Back Bay Mission cannot meet the overwhelming need for housing alone, it has undertaken a new, important role in the area of community development and planning. In 2009, Back Bay Mission will break ground on its first full-scale housing development, Bethel Estates. This will be the first major effort in what is planned as long-term, ongoing new work. Everett Lewis is Back Bay Mission’s Affordable Housing Specialist.