‘Chamber is … where community happens’

By: Jackson Chamber on Aug 19, 2015

Lisa Peoples, the executive director of Area Relief Ministries (ARM), understands that serving the at-risk andlow-income population in Jackson couldn't possibly be accomplished by one organization.

What happens in one part of Jackson affects the city as a whole, said Peoples. “The solutions to the many concerns of the homeless and at-risk require the joint effort of many. ARM’s vision is to see the people of Jackson and its businesses serving side by side as one.”

Peoples has been able to make strategic alliances with area businessmen and women in her position on the Jackson

Chamber board of directors. These relationships enable ARM to partner with businesses and people who can help the organization work toward eradicating homelessness and serving others in need in Jackson.

“The Jackson Chamber is the place where community happens and where Jackson becomes a better place,” said Peoples. “It has been a great honor to serve on the Jackson Chamber board because it gives a face to ARM and allows me to develop a relationship with influential businessmen and women.”

Before coming back home to Jackson, Peoples did community education, public relations and grant writing for a nonprofit agency in Memphis, but her passion has always been building relationships. 

When Mary Tyler, the founder of ARM, decided to retire, Peoples jumped at the opportunity to move back home and continue working for a nonprofit agency. 

Peoples enjoys living in Jackson again. She stays busy with her niece and nephew, who both live with her. She also teaches Sunday School and a Bible study at Walnut Grove Church.

ARM is a faith-based social service agency whose mission is to alleviate suffering, promote dignity and foster hope for those in need. 

ARM provides emergency, temporary, transitional and permanent housing, as well as financial assistance for utilities and prescription meds for the uninsured. It also conducts an after-school program in an at-risk neighborhood and partners with the Jackson Police Department to teach an anti-gang curriculum in the school system.  

“We are historically confused with RIFA, so it has been good to build relationships at the Jackson Chamber and get exposure so that people recognize who ARM is and what we offer,” said Peoples.  

Dr. Samuel W. “Dub” Oliver, the president of Union University, and Dr. Logan Hampton, the president of Lane College, who both serve on the Jackson Chamber board, will speak at the upcoming ARM event, “Together for Tomorrow,” on August 20. The two university leaders hope to lay out a vision of every individual across the city working together to create a better Jackson. 

“We want to be a catalyst to Jackson serving as one community,” said Peoples. “We see that happening some, but we want to continue working toward serving as one, rather than having an ‘us versus them’ mentality.” 

The “Together for Tomorrow” event will raise money for ARM’s programs, such as the Fresh Start program that provides employment for the homeless men the organization serves. Fresh Start allows ARM to give the men part-time employment in its lawn care business. 

One of the biggest barriers to overcoming poverty is unemployment, particularly for those who are chronically unemployed, said Peoples. 

Peoples hopes that the relationships she has developed at the Jackson Chamber will aid ARM in its goal to create new jobs. 

“Serving on the Jackson Chamber board allows us all to serve Jackson and have a community based on the idea that, together, we can care for our community.” 

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