The Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi announced this week its latest COVID-19 relief effort in partnership with Pam Chatman, of Cleveland, Mississippi, and Rev. Frederick Ford with the St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church in Cleveland.   

The first of its kind initiative in the Mississippi Delta is being led by Chatman, who started a Workforce Transportation Initiative (WTI) in the Mississippi Delta in 2018, which has been a huge success providing high paying jobs with benefits to residents who travel two hours each way via bus to work in Olive Branch for FedEx. Chatman has received national recognition for her innovative Workforce Transportation Initiative. Her expertise in transportation is now being tapped for COVID-19 vaccinations.

“I was contacted by a concerned individual in Atlanta who saw a national news segment stating that Mississippi had the lowest percentage of COVID-19 vaccinations among African-Americans at 19% yet has the highest African-American population at 38%. She randomly called the Bolivar Medical Center and talked to its CEO Rob Marshall who directed her to me since he knew I have experience in workforce transportation. I’d like to thank Rob for his confidence in me,” said Chatman. “The individual in Atlanta is offering to pay for transportation to help increase the number of individuals receiving a vaccination and to help raise money from her family and friends. I’m pleased that the Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi has stepped up in making the first gift of $2,500 towards our Phase I goal of $25,000.” Phase I funds will assist individuals who live in the rural Mississippi Delta with a ride to the nearest vaccination site.

“The Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi has granted nearly $1 million through our FEED NORTHWEST MISSISSIPPI FUND in COVID-19 relief efforts, which includes grants in support of addressing food insecurity, academic needs of children, and health issues that are prevalent in the 11-county region we serve,” said Keith Fulcher, Community Foundation President. “Just last week our staff discussed how to support the vaccination efforts in counties where there are no vaccination sites or major drugstores and how to overcome the lack of transportation issue along with the challenge of having access to technology to schedule an appointment. Pam and her Vaccination Transportation Initiative offers those most in need an opportunity to access a COVID-19 vaccination and we’re pleased to support the Initiative as it fulfills our mission statement of Connecting People Who Care With Causes That Matter.”

“The congregation of St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church is honored to support Pam and her Vaccination Transportation Initiative,” said Rev. Ford. “The Mississippi Delta needs more people like her who unselfishly fulfill a need of the most vulnerable. I invite everyone to join us in our effort to care for all of God’s people during these difficult times.”

Gifts may be made at the secure website www.cfnm.org/donate and enter VTI in the Donation Designation to support Vaccination Transportation Initiative. Donations to the Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law.

Photo by: Rory Doyle