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MIFA’s Golden Gala

Celebrating 50 years

Story by Emily Adams Keplinger  | Photos by Stephanie Norwood 

It was a night to celebrate as more than 600 people, both long-time supporters as well as new partners and friends, came together at the Memphis Hilton for a memorable evening commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association (MIFA). The Jim Spake Quartet performed as guests mingled, sharing their stories about their connections to MIFA. 

“Founded in 1968 in an unprecedented cooperative effort uniting church and community leaders to confront the growing issues of poverty, hunger and social division in Memphis, MIFA’s mission continues to support the independence of vulnerable seniors and families in crisis,” said James Seacat, Director of Marketing & Communications for MIFA. 

Sally Jones Heinz, MIFA President & CEO, welcomed guests as they were seated for dinner and reminded everyone that, “We bring Memphians together every day to serve and be served. We lead over 2000 volunteers in giving over 58,000 volunteer hours each year.”

Rabbi Micah Greenstein of Temple Israel gave the Invocation and Lucia Whittemore Crenshaw, a member of the MIFA Board of Directors, introduced the evening’s keynote speaker, The Reverend Dr. Dorothy Sanders Wells, Chairman of the MIFA Board of Directors and Rector at St. George’s Episcopal Church.

The inspirational speech from Dr. Wells, as well as information shared in a video presentation, highlighted many of the ways MIFA has impacted the Memphis community, including providing over 500,000 meals annually to homebound elderly citizens.

The Reverend Dr. Stephen R. Montgomery, former MIFA Board Chairman and pastor at Idlewild Presbyterian Church, recognized groups of guests who were part of the MIFA story by asking them to stand. Then he called on those who were inspired to play a part in the next 50 years — ultimately everyone in the room stood up. Rev. Montgomery then introduced MIFA board member Norma Oliver and former MIFA board member Sehrish Siddiqui.

Heinz returned to the stage to announce a special anniversary gift to the community from MIFA, a new website called MIFA Center for CommUNITY, devoted to volunteer service and the “transformational power of serving together to build community” (community.mifa.org).  She explained that the site, an interactive portal that will help connect volunteers with service opportunities, as well as help people understand why service matters, is a tribute to the organization’s service legacy.

As the presentations came to a close, MIFA’s mission of bringing people of diverse backgrounds together as neighbors and of uniting the community through service was center stage. Guests were mindful of the hope and determination that will lead the organization into its next chapter. 

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