My First Day Back at Back Bay Mission by Rev. Paul Longstreth (Church Relations Associate)

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          Most of the pieces that appear here share the stories of our clients and guests, which is most appropriate; sometimes we tell about the work of a particular staff member or program.  Today I want to talk about me … well, sort of about me.  And it is not that I WANT to as much as I NEED to.

          Thirty years ago I was pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ, a former Evangelical and Reformed congregation of Canal Street in New Orleans.  One of the joys of that service was my being named to the Board of Directors of Back Bay Mission, a pleasant drive from New Orleans before Interstate 10 became a raceway – and before 110 connected to the middle of Biloxi.

          My recent return to be a Church Relations Associate has made such an impression on me that I feel compelled to share that day’s experience, beginning with FINDING the new (to me) campus on Division Street.  The expansion of programs and services made possible by the new facilities has, in the tradition of the past 96 years of BBM service, provided a new beacon of hope which shines far beyond the campus and across the Gulf Coast.  The not-so-secret ingredient, however, is not in help given and food shared but in that bedrock of life and ministry:  ATTITUDE.  How does the attitude at Back Bay Mission affect the community while strengthening neighborhoods, seeking justice, and transforming lives?

          First I was greeted by Long-Term Volunteers Jeanette, Terry, Nancy, Bob, and Carol then across the street by Deborah at the Day Center and Twila at the Food Pantry, all smiling, chatty, and making me feel like we had known each other forever.  After that came Dr. Graham, the Executive Director, who took me around the campus and introduced me to every staff member, citing some personal attribute of each and describing the work they do.  I remember back when the staff was about six; now it is more than I can count, and Carol Merriman and I are the newest in the mix.  But back to that Day One.

          It did not take me long to realize that EVERY staff member and volunteer is “at home” and “in the family” at BBM.  If we could somehow capture the energy, the smiles, the deep caring and concern expressed by ALL these staff to EVERYONE who walks in the door, Alice and her crew would find a way to bottle it and give it away, free of charge.  And that is just what they do.  By being themselves, sustained by their spirit of love, personal involvement, and genuine sense of MISSION, they put the MMMM in BBMMMM and set an awe-inspiring example for all who are fortunate enough to meet them every day.

Back Bay Mission’s Annual Event Fundraiser is scheduled for May 3, 2018

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Back Bay Mission’s Annual Event Fundraiser is scheduled for May 3, 2018

Musicians with a Mission: Black Keys & White Pearls

Back Bay Mission welcomes Eugene Eash and Kenneth Leonard to the Hard Rock Live Biloxi stage at Musicians with a Mission on Thursday, May 3, 2018.   This is Back Bay Mission’s annual event fundraiser.  The evening will include Live Jazz & Dueling Pianos, a silent auction, and incredible hors d’oeuvres by the top chief at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Biloxi.  The event will surely not disappoint.  There will be a Mission Moment to highlight the work being done at Back Bay Mission that strengthens neighborhoods, seeks justice, and transform lives!!

WOW! We will also have a Spin “2” Win game and raffle festivities!!  The evening will be full of fun and excitement.

Tickets: $50 per person

Date: May 3, 2018

Time: 5:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Location: Hard Rock Live inside the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Biloxi

Attire: Dressy occasion- suits, pantsuits, dresses

Show off those PEARLS for the evening!!!

Click HERE for more information, purchase tickets, or donate.

Contact Laura Payne if you wish to donate a silent auction item or for additional information, 228-432-0301 or.

Thank You!

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It’s Thanksgiving week… and we just want to say ‘thank you’.

We talk a lot about the work that Back Bay Mission does, from emergency assistance and the Micah Day Center, to housing rehabilitation and Bridges Out of Poverty. We are grateful for the dedicated staff who spend their days serving the poor and marginalized of the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

But the fact is that we couldn’t do any of this without you!

You donate hundreds of thousands of dollars every year to buy food and materials, pay staff salaries, and keep the lights on, among other things.

You give thousands of hours every year to rehabilitate houses, serve in the food pantry, and clean showers in the Micah Day Center.

You open your homes to Mission staff who are in your area, your pulpits to Mission representatives who visit your congregations, and your hearts to the people of the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Thank you for all that you do to strengthen neighborhoods, seek justice, and transform lives on the Mississippi Gulf Coast!

Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week 2017

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This week is hunger and homelessness awareness week. This is an annual program where people come together across the country to draw attention to the problems of hunger and homelessness. All over the United States, people are hosting events, volunteering, learning, and giving with an eye towards alleviating hunger and homelessness in America and abroad.

You already know that many of Back Bay Mission’s best-known ministries — our client-choice food pantry, the Micah Day Center, and even housing rehabilitation — are focused on these important issues. During this week, right here on our website, we’ll be taking a closer look at a few of these programs. And, of course, we’ll let you know how you can help us address hunger and homelessness on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and beyond.

Please join us on the blog, read our posts, and let us know what you’re doing to help people who are experiencing hunger and homelessness!

How Hurricane Preparations Work at Back Bay Mission

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On October 7, Hurricane Nate made landfall on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. While it wasn’t a severe hurricane, Back Bay Mission took the same precautions we take every time a hurricane is approaching our community. Since this wasn’t our first hurricane — and it certainly won’t be our last — we thought we’d share those precautions with you.

There are some things that we do all the time to make sure we’re ready when a hurricane is on its way:

  • We make sure that information our computers is backed up (or always living in the cloud)
  • We make sure that members of our staff and board have each other’s contact information
  • We keep records of our inventory and property
  • We make sure that we have the tools and equipment we’ll need, and that it’s in good shape and working condition
  • We make sure that the people we serve have hurricane evacuation information

There are some things we do when a hurricane is on its way:

  • We keep any volunteers who are staying — or who are on their way — with us informed and safe
  • We keep our constituents in the United Church of Christ and around the country informed via our website, social media channels, email, and other methods of communication
  • We prepare the buildings by fastening hurricane shutters, installing plywood over windows, placing sandbags, and so on
  • We protect Mission property by moving vehicles to higher ground (and making sure they have gas), bagging computers, depositing any money we have, securing and storing items, and so on
  • We communicate with our clients in Home At Last, HomePort, and the Micah Day Center about the hurricane and implement their safety plans
  • We contact other service providers and the Red Cross to make sure that plans are in place and to communicate important information to the people we serve
  • If it’s a category 3 hurricane or higher, we stockpile water and other necessities
  • If we’re evacuating, staff members make sure their supervisor knows their plans

And, of course, there are some things we do once the hurricane has passed:

  • We make sure everyone is informed about our status (usually by email, the website, and social media)
  • We undo all of the preparations we did with our buildings and property
  • We get back to work, checking in with the people we serve and making sure everyone is okay

While we can never predict what will happen in a hurricane, and while it obviously takes a lot more work to recover from a major hurricane than a ‘minor’ one, we take every precaution possible to ensure that Back Bay Mission can continue to serve the poor and marginalized even in the aftermath of a severe hurricane.

Statement on Hurricanes Harvey and Irma

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Over the last several weeks, we at Back Bay Mission have watched as our friends and neighbors have been pummeled by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. These include people in Texas and Florida, as well as Louisiana, the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, Haiti, and other parts of the United States, the Caribbean, and Latin America. Our hearts are broken by the heavy losses that people have suffered, and we are praying for everyone who has been affected by these storms.

As residents of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, a place that was all but forgotten in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, we know first-hand that every natural disaster is also a human disaster. People have and will lose their savings, their homes, their possessions, their jobs, and their lives. And the poor and marginalized will bear the costs of these storms disproportionately. Not just today but in the years to come.

We also know that recovery time is not measured in weeks or months. It is measured in years. The people and communities affected by these hurricanes need our care. Harvey and Irma are tests of our nation’s willingness to provide long-term support for people impacted by a communal disaster.

At Back Bay Mission, we stand in solidarity with our friends and neighbors in the United States, the Caribbean, Latin America, and anywhere else that must endure disasters like Harvey and Irma. We stand in solidarity especially with the poor, marginalized, and forgotten… the people who won’t be seen on news broadcasts or mentioned in reports, but who will suffer the harshest effects of these storms.

As a community ministry of the United Church of Christ, we hope that you will help the people affected by these hurricanes through a gift to our friends at the United Church of Christ’s Disaster Ministries (in addition to your regular gift to Back Bay Mission). They supported us for years after Hurricane Katrina, and they will be in Houston, Florida, and other places for years after the news trucks and emergency management teams leave.

Together, we can love the communities affected by these storms back to life. We can strengthen neighborhoods, seek justice, and transform lives not only on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, but everywhere that there is need.  

Back Bay Mission: Strengthening Neighborhoods, Seeking Justice, Transforming Lives.

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Back Bay Mission in Biloxi Mississippi has been a lasting source of hope and help for thousands of children, adults and families along the Mississippi Gulf Coast since 1922.  As one of the oldest and most highly respected organizations within the United Church of Christ and on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Back Bay Mission continues its journey of providing innovative solutions and compassionate responses to those suffering at the hands of social injustice. Its Mission Trip program provides hands-on service learning experiences for hundreds of volunteers from across the nation.

Back Bay Mission’s Board of Directors met May 5-6 in Biloxi and elected officers for 2017-18.  President, Matt Williams; Vice-President Jasmine Quinerly; Secretary Wil Brown; Treasurer Brent Johnson. Elected to the Class of 2020 are: Jasmine Quinerly (TX); Crystal Allen (OH); Joyce Bathke (MO); Rosa Smith Williams (NC).

Photo.  Back Bay Mission Board of Directors and Staff May 2017.

L-R: Kenny Washington, Director of Client Services; Shawn Sullivan, CFO; Brent Johnson (MS); Mary Ruth (TN); Scott Martin (TX); Liz Nash (TX); Alice Graham, Executive Director; Carol Merriman (WI); John Magee (MO); Wil Brown (TX); Bob Brautigam (IL); Charles Graham (MS).

Directors absent from photo: Crystal Allen (OH) photographer; Jasmine Quinerly (TX), Matt Crebbin (CT); Don Longbottom (TX); Matt Williams (MS); Jesse Chambers (MS); Raymos McMillan (MS).

Scheduled Downtime

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The Back Bay Mission website will have scheduled downtime starting at about 9am on Monday, May 22, 2017. We will be making some major changes to the structure and layout of the site, and, hopefully, making it easier for you to use. We will have this work done as quickly as possible, but we do not know how long it will take. We apologize for any inconvenience.

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