Summer Jobs Program Extends into Holiday Season

December 14th, 2009

We all rise together. Operation Shoestring has educated children and inspired families for more than 40 years. Much of our daily work focuses on the 120-plus elementary school students we serve each afternoon from Galloway Elementary School. Because of the innovation and generosity of several board members and local businesses, we recently were able to expand our programming.

Through the Youth Employment Program (YEP), which was held this past summer, Operation Shoestring and its partners trained Lanier High School honor students to be top-notch professionals. These honor students learned the importance of financial and time management, they learned the appropriate attire for a professional workplace and the expectations an employer has for employees. Perhaps more important, they learned that the choices they make in school, at home, with friends and at the work place will determine their future. These students learned lessons of personal responsibility – and they embraced it!

After their training, these students worked at numerous Jackson-area organizations and businesses, including University Medical Center, Barksdale Cadillac, the Butler Snow law firm and The Clarion-Ledger. We were proud of the results of the program and of the press coverage it received (see the front page Clarion-Ledger Metro Section photo above). Over the course of the summer, these outstanding students gained valuable work experience. More than that, they realized that they could – and should – set their sights very high. The YEP students discovered that an enriching career should not be merely a dream. They learned what it takes to make it a reality. And we couldn’t be prouder of them.

In addition to their professional duties, these students pledged to be involved in their community. Nine of our YEP students were trained as docents for the upcoming “Jim Henson’s Fantastic World” exhibit at the Mississippi Museum of Art, which opens December 19th. This collaboration between individuals, nonprofits, business entities and educational institutions is an inspiring example of the work being done by Operation Shoestring. Thank you for your interest in our work and for making it possible.


November 6th, 2009

The Jackson Medical Mall Foundation’s largest annual event is their Community Reinvestment Awards (CRA). For outstanding service to Mississippi children, Operation Shoestring was one of four community organizations honored as 2009 Grand Award Recipients at the event. The 13th Annual CRA was held on Thursday, November 5 in the Medical Mall’s Thad Cochran Center at 6:00pm. This year’s guest speaker was Dr. Benjamin Carson, Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at John Hopkins Children’s Hospital. Special thanks go to Executive Director Primus Wheeler, Deputy Director Lori Greer, and Public Relations Manager Zakiya Summers, as well as all of the Medical Mall Foundation’s board for this wonderful distinction.

Operation Shoestring receives a generous check of $5,650 from the Jackson Medical Mall Foundation. Pictured from left to right: Dr. Aaron Shirley, Operation Shoestring Director Robert Langford and noted author and speaker Dr. Ben Carson.


October 2nd, 2009

On Saturday, September 26th, Wells Church staged their 26th annual WellsFest at Jamie Fowler Boyll Park on Lakeland Drive. After a week of rain, and even some that morning, the sun emerged for hours of local music, kids activities, and craft booths. Despite the early precipitation, a signal of the event’s good fortune came in an editorial on Wells and Shoestring in that morning’s Clarion-Ledger. Wells was kind enough to designate Operation Shoestring as this year’s beneficiary of WellsFest. Over 40 years ago, the original Operation Shoestring site was a back room of Wells Church. Great thanks to Keith Tonkel and Wells not only for their support from the proceeds of this event, but also decades of community partnership!

To see more pictures of WellsFest as well as The Clarion-Ledger editorial, click the following links.

Shoestring’s Photos from WellsFest

The Clarion-Ledger’s Photos from WellsFest

The Clarion-Ledger’s Editorial Piece


October 2nd, 2009

On Monday, September 28, the Delta Pi Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority at Jackson State University held an on-campus economic forum centered on money-saving tips. Attendees were asked to bring canned goods, specifically to be donated to Operation Shoestring. Most Tuesday mornings, Shoestring conducts a food distribution for neighborhood households that qualify. Thanks very much to the Delta Pi Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority for generously providing a literal truckload of food!

(L-R) Philip Stewart, Charity Clark, Jerome Jordan, Danielle Cooper, Dexter Iberson


September 28th, 2009

We want to thank everybody for helping make September 17th’s “A Conversation About Community,” a resounding success. In addition to the abundance of topical candor from the panelists, hundreds of civic-minded individuals filled the Trustmark Ballroom at the Convention Complex. Our event income increased by more than 25% over last year. Given the state of our economy, that is huge – and necessary!

As the one night a year that helps keep the Ellen Harris Center staffed and lit year round, we cannot overemphasize the importance or appreciation surrounding last Thursday. Shoestring’s community-wide effort has lasted over 40 years, and with generosity and effort of those that see the big picture, it will continue to flourish.

By teaching children and inspiring families, Operation Shoestring ensures we are all rising.

For more pictures from the Conversation, click here. Thanks to Patrick Taylor.

(From L-R) Oleta Fitzgerald, Jim Barksdale, Luther Ott, Aaron Shirley


September 28th, 2009

Every business day, the Jackson Free Press’ “JFP Daily” email recognizes a “Person of the Day” – among other things. In the week leading up to Shoestring’s “A Conversation About Community,” the JFP profiled two individuals at the center of the event. Dr. Aaron Shirley, who served as one of the four panelists at The Conversation, was featured on Thursday, September 10th. And Shoestring Executive Director Robert Langford was picked on Thursday, September 17th. Additionally, JFP correspondent Ronni Mott’s coverage of “A Conversation About Community” appeared online the following day.

To see the two “Person of the Day” pieces, as well as the event coverage, click the links below.

Dr. Aaron Shirley JFP Person of the Day

Robert Langford JFP Person of the Day

Shoestring ‘Conversation’ Focused on Solutions


September 8th, 2009

Operation Shoestring’s annual dinner, “A Conversation About Community” is just two weeks away, and in the meantime you should see word of it, all over. Look for print ads in the Jackson Free Press, Jackson Advocate, and Northside Sun. Tune your radio dial for airings of Executive Director Robert Langford’s appearances on Todd Carter’s Metro Matters (Mix 98.7, Y-101, and US 96.3), Randy Bell’s community update (Score 620, Miss 103, Z106, News 1590, Hallelujah 95.5), as well as a live appearance on Othor Cain’s Cain’s Corner (WJSU). Turn to WLBT’s Midday Mississippi on Monday the 14th or various times on TV23 for televised interviews of Robert. And while you’re cruising around, keep an eye out for banners at the corner of State St. & Pearl St., in Parham Bridges Park, and in Jamie Fowler Boyll Park on Lakeland.

September 17th’s “A Conversation About Community” sets itself apart by encouraging powerful civic dialog rather than self congratulation. This year’s panel is exceptionally qualified to discuss such tough issues as the economy, poverty, education, and race.

For information on individual $50 tickets, as well as sponsorships click here.

Operation Shoestring’s Annual Dinner


A Panel Discussion With:

Jim Barksdale Founder, Barksdale Reading Institute

Oleta Fitzgerald Director, Children’s Defense Fund’s Southern Regional Office

Luther Ott Chairman, Community Foundation of Greater Jackson

Aaron Shirley Chairman, Jackson Medical Mall Foundation

Thursday, September 17, 2009 6:30 – 9:00pm

Jackson Convention Complex • 105 E. Pascagoula Street • Jackson, MS


September 8th, 2009

Over 40 years ago, the original Operation Shoestring site was the basement of Wells Church. And it’s time once again for the Bailey Avenue neighbors’ annual celebration, WellsFest. It will be held Saturday, September 26th, at Jamie Fowler Boyll Park, next to Smith-Wills Stadium on Lakeland Drive. All of this year’s proceeds will go to Operation Shoestring. The festival features a 5K run and walk and a one-mile fun run, as well as live music, food booths, children’s activities, a pet parade, arts and crafts booths, a plant sale, and a silent auction for goods and services. Admission is free.

In addition to the traditional Saturday fun, this year includes WellsFest Art Night on Tuesday, Sept. 22, at the Mississippi Crafts Center on Rice Road in Ridgeland. This event also is free. The preview party begins at 6 p.m., and the live art auction gets under way at 7:30 p.m.

Great thanks goes to Wells not only for their consideration of this event, but also decades of community partnership!

For more information, click here.


September 8th, 2009

As part of the KPMG Interns for Literacy program, Jackson-natives Jessie Austin and Elizabeth Butler recently dropped by Shoestring’s Ellen Harris Center. In tow, they had a bountiful amount of books for the eager children in our Project KIDS afterschool program. Thanks once again to KPMG’s Jackson office for pointing their summer interns Shoestring’s way.


September 8th, 2009

In Three Cups of Tea, Greg Mortenson explains how a failed mission to the peak of the K2 led him to open schools in Pakistan’s and Afghanistan’s remote mountain villages. With St. Andrew’s students having recently read the book, Head of Middle School Ruthie Hollis invited Shoestring Executive Director Robert Langford to speak at an assembly. He joined Mayor Johnson’s Chief of Staff Sean Perkins, and 24-year-old Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman, to discuss how they arrived at serving their communities.

From L-R: Sean Perkins, Parker Wiseman, Robert Langford