Bringing Warmth – Commercial Appeal Article

13 Feb

Annesdale Snowden Food Drive Helps Inner City

27 Dec

Ian Randolph, Annesdale Snowden neighborhood resident and FirstWorks board member, picking up the first of many Schnucks grocery bags filled with non-perishable food items and infant supplies for inner city families.

Early last Saturday morning, a light dusting of snow covered the beautiful historic homes in the Annesdale Snowden HIstoric District neighborhood
as resident, Ian Randolph, drove door to door looking for grocery bags filled  with non-perishable foods waiting to be picked up on his neighbors’ porches.

Randolph, who is also a Firstworks Board member, had organized this holiday food drive to benefit inner city families.

Annesdale Snowden, a Memphis landmark, has a thriving, close-knit neighborhood association of 200 homes.   All had received a flyer and an email from Randolph asking them to please consider filling up the white Schnucks grocery bag he’d be leaving on their porch Friday evening.

Before 8:00 a.m. Saturday,  Randolph, with the assistance of his helpful teenage daughter, Amira, excitedly began to load up their mid-size SUV with the generous gifts of non-perishable food and infant  items given for those less fortunate.

Canned vegetables, meats, fruits and juices, large boxes of cereal, jars of jelly and peanut butter, infant formula,  diapers, and hygiene supplies were
collected.  The goods will be transported to the FirstWorks Food Pantry at Highland Heights United Methodist Church, at the corner of Summer and
Highland, for needy inner city families.

Randolph modestly said of his efforts to assist those who are struggling financially and need help putting food on their table this time of the year,  “A
food drive like this is easy to do. My neighbors are generous people,  with caring hearts. They want to help.  All I do is make it as easy as possible by
giving them a list of  what is needed ahead of time and placing an empty grocery bag on their door step.  The next day I drive by and pick up their donations.”

FirstWorks, a 501(c) 3 mission,  under the director of Rev. Birgitte T. French, Executive Director, operates a food pantry and an after-school academic program for “at risk” children and youth.  Clients are pre-screened and referred to the food pantry by the Metropolitan InterFaith Association, churches and other helping organizations. The food pantry’s hours of operation are Tuesday – Friday, 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.,  at 3476 Summer Avenue.

Any neighborhood association, business, or group that would like to organize a food drive for FirstWorks, please  contact Ian Randolph at 901.289.3411.  He
would be glad to help.

Special thanks to Schnucks for donating the plastic grocery bags for this event.

To find out more about FirstWorks, to donate,  or volunteer, please visit: www.firstworks.org.

The Commercial Appeal eEdition Article

22 Dec

FirstWorks Delivers Christmas To Inner City

20 Dec

Schaun Korff from St. Jude Children's Research Hospital loads a large box of cuddly Teddy Bears onto the FirstWorks bus early Saturday morning. Every child recevied bear and two presents.

Early Saturday morning, the classrooms at Highland Heights United Methodist Church, home to FirstWorks, resembled Santa’s Workshop bursting wall-to-wall brightly wrapped Christmas presents as helpful “elves” grouped them into large piles spilling over into the floor.

Dolls, games, books, sweaters, gloves, scarves, and puffy warm bed comforters were just some of the treasures wrapped up with a bow and lots of love for the inner city families enrolled in the FirstWorks After School Program.

In November, the children were each given a blank “wish list” to fill out. They were asked to not only write down what two items they most desired for Christmas, but to also include their family members on the list.

Thanks to the generosity of many supporters throughout Shelby County, all of the families were “adopted” this year. In addition to presents to unwrap on Christmas morning, the families were also given a Krogers card in order for them to purchase food.

After loading the numerous packages onto the FirstWorks bus, pick-up trucks, and vans, the group formed a Christmas caravan that traveled from house to house to personally deliver the presents, offer a hug, and a sincere “Merry Christmas from FirstWorks!.”

Rev. Birgitte T. French, FirstWorks Executive Director, known to the children as “Pastor Bee,” said of this heart-warming group effort, “These donated gifts will go to the most indigent families in our county. They have no way to provide Christmas for their children or for themselves. They will be so excited that someone thought of them at this time of the year. We are so very grateful for all the support we have received throughout the year, and especially here at Christmas time!”

Those who contributed to this holiday effort include the FirstWorks staff and board members, volunteers from the Junior League of Memphis, Collierville United Methodist Church, Germantown United Methodist Church, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, St. Peters’ Catholic Church, St Luke’s United Methodist Church, First United Methodist Church, RBG Accountants, many businesses, book clubs, and generous individuals.

FirstWorks, a 501 (c) 3 mission, enrolls “at-risk” children and youth from downtown’s poorest ZIP codes. Twice a week the children are brought to Highland Heights UNC for dinner served by volunteers, followed by tutoring and homework assistance from Memphis City School teachers. The children are supported and encouraged spiritually, academically, socially, and given sound career advice. Every other Saturday the children are treated to educational or fun outings.

FirstWorks Holiday Cards for Sale

13 Dec

kids with cards

Rev. Birgitte T. French, FirstWorks Executive Director, back row, far left standing, and Amanda Joy, FirstWorks Executive Assistant, back row, second to left standing, with some of the FirstWorks children and youth as they show off their holiday cards created by their own hands.

The children and youth enrolled in the FirstWorks After School Program have created unique holiday cards just for you.  Each child was asked to illustrate their vision of “Christmas.”  The most impressive twelve drawings were selected to be printed into lovely holiday cards.

A packet of 6 cards with envelopes costs $10.  They would make a great stocking stuffer for friends and loved ones!

All proceeds benefit the children and youth of FirstWorks.

To purchase these holiday cards, please call 901.274.8412 or email at firstworksmemphis@gmail.com.
FirstWorks, an academic, faith-based program, enrolls at-risk children from downtown ZIP codes.  The program meets twice a week for dinner,  tutoring, career counseling, and listening to inspirational guest speakers.  Every other Saturday the children are treated to educational and fun outings.
Happy Holidays from the staff, volunteers, and children at FirstWorks!

The children and youth enrolled in the FirstWorks After School Program have created unique holiday cards just for you.  Each child was asked to illustrate their vision of “Christmas.”  The most impressive twelve drawings were selected to be printed into lovely holiday cards. A packet of 6 cards with envelopes costs $10.  They would make a great stocking stuffer for friends and loved ones! All proceeds benefit the children and youth of FirstWorks. To purchase these holiday cards, please call 901.274.8412 or email at firstworksmemphis@gmail.com. FirstWorks, an academic, faith-based program, enrolls at-risk children from downtown ZIP codes.  The program meets twice a week for dinner,  tutoring, career counseling, and listening to inspirational guest speakers.  Every other Saturday the children are treated to educational and fun outings. Happy Holidays from the staff, volunteers, and children at FirstWorks!

A Letter from FirstWorks’ Executive Director

7 Dec


Dear Friends of FirstWorks,

During this holiday season we truly have much to be thankful for. At FirstWorks we are very thankful for the children that come to our facilities to be loved and nurtured. These intellectually capable but at risk children arrive twice a week during the school year on the FirstWorks bus to be embraced in our safe and welcoming environment. Here they are loved and surrounded by our many teachers and volunteers.

Every Tuesday and Thursday night during the school year, the children are provided with a hot nutritious meal, educational enrichment, mentoring, smiles, fun activities and a sense of belonging. For two hours, the children work with professional school teachers and volunteers on building and improving their literacy and mathematic skills. Activities include classroom assignments, homework assistance, projects and computer skills.

With the holiday season fast approaching our thoughts turn to these children who come from some of the poorest areas in our city. FirstWorks is honored and blessed to be partnered with many churches, businesses, and organizations who donate meals for the children, school supplies, uniforms, backpacks, books, and their time. We are especially thankful for generous donors like you. Because of your financial donations, the bus continues to pick up the children every Tuesday and Thursday evening and bring them to our new home at Highland Heights United Methodist Church . Because of you, the lives of our children and volunteers are being transformed and enriched.

Can we count on your generous gifts once again during this holiday season? We pledge to be good stewards of your donations as we strive to meet the operational needs of this vital ministry. We ask that you please continue to support and pray for the FirstWorks children’s program.

May you be blessed during this holiday season!

Reverend Birgitte French “Pastor Bee”
Executive Director

Holiday Fashion Show

7 Dec

Some of the children enrolled in the FirstWorks After School Program

An exciting holiday fashion show benefitting FirstWorks will be held on

Thursday, December 9, 11:30 a.m.

Highland Heights United Methodist Church
3476 Summer Avenue (corner of Highland and Summer).

A fun, winter fashion preview will be provided by Chico’s (Laurelwood Shopping Center). FirstWorks Board members will model the outfits.

All proceeds benefit FirstWorks, a 501 (c) 3 mission, where at-risk children and youth from downtown ZIP codes receive academic, spiritual and career support from caring adults.

Tickets are $25 and include lunch. Tickets may be purchased by calling 901.274.8412 or by emailing firstworksmemphis@gmail.com

Join us for a delightful lunch-time holiday event!

Youngsters Learn Charity this Thanksgiving

27 Nov

Learning to give to those who are less fortunate at a very young age are the Emmanuel United Methodist Church youngsters (ages 3 through kindergarten). They held a Thanksgiving food drive for 35 inner city families enrolled in the FirstWorks After School Program. Picking up the food sacks for delivery is the FirstWorks staff.

The children of Emmanuel United Methodist Church, under the leadership of Senior Minister Dr. David Comperry, are learning to help those less fortunate this Thanksgiving.

Charity, generosity, and love are being taught and put in to practice by the church’s youngest – ages 3 through kindergarten.

These tiny tots organized a Thanksgiving food drive for 35 inner city families enrolled in the FirstWorks After School program.

The food drive was a hugh success. They collected a large sack of groceries for each family. The bags were stuffed with Thanksgiving favorites such as canned green beans, corn, gravy, cranberry sauce, and a box of cornbread muffin mix. Additionally, they collected $500 worth of Krogers gift cards in order to purchase a turkey for each family.

FirstWorks, lead by Executive Director Rev. Birigitte T. French, is an academic, faith-based after-school program for inner city children and youth. Meeting twice a week for dinner and tutoring by Memphis City School teachers, the program strives to give at-risk, near-homeless children from downtown ZIP codes the support, encouragement, and care they may lack in their home environment.

Emmanuel’s Dr. Comperry was on hand to greet the FirstWorks staff as they met and thanked some of the youngsters and their teachers for this noble and generous donation. He commented, “I have to give all the credit to the kids and our staff. The children at Emmanuel are certainly mission minded. I am very proud of them!”

Rev. French and her staff gratefully delivered the food sacks and turkeys on November 22, just in time for Thanksgiving.

To find out more about FirstWorks, to volunteer, or to donate, please visit www.firstworks.org.

Ghoulish Fun for Inner City Kids

2 Jul

Cindy King, FirstWorks volunteer, helps the kids as they concentrate hard to make a winning face

As they boarded the bus to take them to the FirstWorks After School Program, the children were greeted by a “cowboy” bus driver and “gypsy” bus monitor.

Upon arrival at Highland Heights United Methodist Church, where the program meets twice a week for dinner and tutoring, Executive Director Rev. Birgitte T. French, “Pastor Bee,” and a life-size green leprechaun welcomed the kids into the orange and black, Halloween-themed dining hall.

After enjoying a delicious dinner of slaw, chips and barbecue sandwiches, served by the evening’s “Kitchen Angels” from Olivette Baptist Church, the fun began.

Some of the children had dressed for the occasion wearing long gray beards, exotic pink and black wigs, and one large red “Dirt Devil.”

All lined up to make scary “witch hands” by stuffing large clear plastic gloves with popcorn and candy corn tied at the wrist with a ribbon.

Next, a timed pumpkin carving contest was held to see who could create the most frightful face in a mere 10 minutes. After a frantic period of sawing, cutting, grunting, and loud “ugghhhhh’s” as they pulled out hand-fulls of pumpkin guts and seeds, the crowd of children, staff, teachers and volunteers loudly voted that every pumpkin face was a winner!

As the party wound down, each child was given a smaller pumpkin to decorate and paint as they wished to take home with them.

“It warms our hearts to see these near-homeless kids laughing and enjoying fellowship with each other and the volunteers as they created very unique Jack-o-lanterns,” said Pastor Bee, “these memories of love, fun and acceptance will travel with them the rest of their lives. We thank our volunteers from all across Shelby County, the Junior League of Memphis, our teachers, the Kitchen Angels, and our supporters for this special night.”

FirstWorks is an academic, faith-based after school program for at-risk children and youth from downtown ZIP codes. To find out more about FirstWorks, to volunteer, become a “Kitchen Angel,” or donate, please visit: www.firstworks.org

FirstWorks – Where Inner City Kids “Reach for the Stars!”

2 Jul

An excited group of FirstWorks Board Members, supporters, volunteers and teachers followed the stars and took a tour of the new facilities for this After School Children's Program at Highland Heights United Methodist Church.

As fall approaches, temperatures drop, our days grow shorter, and time once again for classrooms to fill up with excited children eager to start the new school year.

This fall, the FirstWorks After School Program for inner city children and youth began their new school year with an exciting “Open House” fund raiser held at their new location at Highland Heights United Methodist Church, 3476 Summer Avenue.

Attendees were welcomed into the large dining hall as candid photos of the FirstWorks children, staff, tutors and volunteers were projected on a large screen. Visitors stopped and smiled as they viewed these special “at risk – near homeless” kids fully engaged in studying, sharing a meal, enjoying fellowship and having fun during last year’s program.

Supporters were asked to follow the green “stars” on the walls as they toured the newly decorated classrooms, the library filled with age-appropriate books, and visit the large secure, fenced-in playground. All had the opportunity to purchase a “FirstWorks Star” to support this important ministry, ranging from a $30 star to purchase a new basketball to an $8000 star to pay for one month’s operating expenses.

Beginning September 7, twice a week, the FirstWorks bus will deliver approximately 55 inner city kids to the church for a delicious, healthy dinner, served by “Kitchen Angel” volunteers, followed by tutoring with Memphis City School teachers. The evenings at FirstWorks allow the kids to be surrounded by caring adults in an atmosphere of love and support with emphasis on academics and planning for their bright futures. Evenings also include the kids meeting and listening to inspirational special guest speakers and working with crafts and having time for sports after homework is completed.

FirstWorks, with the support of the Junior League of Memphis and many churches and individuals throughout the county, treats the children to Saturday outings at museums, takes them on fishing trips and skating parties.

Supporting downtown’s forgotten children for over 20 years, FirstWorks has been lead by Executive Director Rev. Birgitte T. French, “Pastor Bee” for the last five years.

“So many of our kids tell us that FIrstWorks is more than an after school program,” said Pastor Bee, “but rather a safe and secure second home to them. The love, caring, tutoring and support given here can make the difference in the outcome of their lives. These kids are all future “stars” to us! However, we need your support to continue to help these kids. We hope you will get involved in FirstWorks by making a financial donation, a donation of your time by volunteering, or becoming a Kitchen Angel.”

To find out more about FirstWorks, to donate, or volunteer, please contact Pastor Bee at 901.274.8412 or email firstworksmemphis@gmail.com or visit the web site at www.firstworks.org