Former Revolving Tables Restaurant (Mendenhall, MS), reference by Eudora Welty in The Ponder Heart.
Dolphus and Rosie Weary (the Wearys; REAL’s founders) worked for over 40 years in Mississippi communities to address issues that cause or result from rural poverty like the lack of educational opportunities, poor nutrition, and the barriers to medical care, to name a few. Many Mississippi communities need more support than local, state, or federal government can give them. Non-profits help fill this need, but non-profits in rural areas, especially those that are led by minorities and/or are Christian-based often do not have access to the same financial support and resources as urban, non-Christian non-profits.
Many times, leaders of non-profit ministries in rural areas do not have personal connections to individual people who have the ability to donate large amounts of money to them. Additionally, leaders of these organizations often do not have the training that could empower them to know where and how to look for grant money, compete for grant money if they find it, or manage it if they receive a grant award. REAL’s founders understand the unique challenges these non-profits face on every level.
As a result, REAL’s board of directors and staff provide both some of the needed money and training to these community leaders in rural Mississippi. We also give these community leaders opportunities to connect with each other so they can share stories of success, failure, and possibly be resources for each other.
We have training workshops each year in April and September. We award grants at least once a year, usually in the spring, to support new and ongoing programs. We award scholarships to both college and high school boarding students every summer, we award tuition stipends to private Christian school students at a partner school in Simpson County every fall, and we award leadership development scholarships as needed to community leaders who want to enter programs so they can gain additional leadership training and/or exposure. Our signature and major fundraising event each year, which both spotlights and honors our community leaders, is our fundraising celebration dinner each October. We also give technical assistance, as the non-profit ministries have need and we have opportunity to do so, in the form of equipment, supplies, and consultants.
The dream that started in 1998 in a home in Richland, MS, with no money and 2,000 copies of an autobiographical book written by Dolphus has come true in the form of a $2.7 million endowed foundation that has given away over $1 million to over 25 non-profits serving 14 different communities and located in 12 counties, all in Mississippi. These Mississippi counties include Bolivar, Copiah, Covington, Holmes, Jefferson Davis, Leflore, Quitman, Rankin, Scott, Sharkey, Simpson, and Walthall counties.
You can be a part of the dream. REAL receives money and support through direct mail, grant proposal awards, online giving, event sponsorship, book sales, and direct giving from people. Feel free to donate now…or later…through our website. We are doing some exciting things for Mississippi and hope you will want to be a part of them.