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Awarding $473,721 for individual relief

Volunteer-driven effort supports restaurant, hospitality and service industry workers

(Feb. 6, 2021) – The threat of severely reduced capacity for restaurants, mandated by the Shelby County Health Department directive, spurred Memphians Reginald and Erica Coopwood into fundraising action in late December. Six weeks later, their inspired passion helped produce $473,721 for hospitality and service industry workers through the Pay It Forward Mid-South campaign.

Through the campaign, all donations to the Mid-South COVID-19 Regional Response Fund from Dec. 21, 2020 through Jan. 31, 2021, went directly to financial assistance for hospitality and service industry workers. The Community Foundation of Greater Memphis, which administers the response fund, awarded the grant dollars to two nonprofits that provide relief assistance: Welcome To Memphis ($236,860.50) and MIFA ($236,860.50). Those grant awards were allocated in two batches, the first on Jan. 6 and the second on Feb. 4. These two agencies are administering financial assistance grants through their websites, welcometomemphis.org and mifa.org

Two-hundred forty-four individual and company donors stepped up to support the campaign.

“Our hearts were touched by the damaging effect that strict but necessary restrictions would have on the livelihoods of restaurant and hospitality workers across the community,” said volunteer leaders Reginald and Erica Coopwood. “Our idea to help serve those workers took off with the support of the Community Foundation, and we are overwhelmed by the outpouring of generosity and the campaign’s impact.”

“We can’t thank the Coopwoods enough for spearheading this timely and wonderfully successful campaign to directly support our hospitality and service industry workers during this crisis,” said Robert Fockler, president of the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis. “Memphis and the Mid-South have shown themselves—once again—to be the most generous and caring place in the country.”

About the Mid-South COVID-19 Regional Response Fund
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The Mid-South COVID-19 Regional Response Fund is the unified community relief effort to support organizations impacted by novel coronavirus and the economic consequences of the pandemic. The Fund is managed by the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis, in partnership with City of Memphis, Shelby County Government, United Way of the Mid-South, and Momentum Nonprofit Partners/Mid-South Philanthropy Network. It provides flexible funding to nonprofit organizations serving community members in West Tennessee, Eastern Arkansas, and Northern Mississippi. To learn more about the fund, click here