Memphis Kindness Blog: Mike Conley donates to CodeCrew

By , Daily Memphian Updated: May 20, 2020 3:20 PM CT | Published: May 04, 2020 2:30 PM CT

As we navigate through this difficult time of dealing with the coronavirus, it is important to capture those instances where Memphians are coming together for each other. Those acts of kindness, generous moments and just feel-good instances happening all around us. Our reporters will be out looking for these. We also want to hear from you. If you have a nomination for our Memphis Kindness blog, email us at Thank you for reading. — Ronnie Ramos, executive editor

Editor’s Note: The Daily Memphian is making our coronavirus coverage accessible to all readers — no subscription needed. Our journalists continue to work around the clock to provide you with the extensive coverage you need; if you can subscribe, please do

May 20, 2020

Mike Conley donates to CodeCrew

2:49 PM CT, May 20

Utah Jazz guard and former Memphis Grizzlies player Mike Conley donated $200,000 to five organizations including one in Memphis.

CodeCrew will receive some of the funds. The organization helps teach students about technology and will partner with STREETS ministries to obtain low cost broadband internet services and laptops for distance learning, should schools take that route in the fall.

“For many nonprofits, COVID-19 has caused drastic changes in how services and programs are delivered,” Meka Egwuekwe, CodeCrew executive director said in a release. “For CodeCrew and STREETS Ministries, we immediately recognized the digital divide that exists for our students and their families. Students in the Memphis area are not equipped with the necessary tools for distance learning. We are beyond grateful for the generous support of Mike Conley during this global pandemic.”

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May 07, 2020

Collierville community backs Project Graduation

1:19 PM CT, May 7

In Collierville, seniors drove by to receive their caps and gowns and the also received a $20 gift card.

Each year, seniors head to H.W. Cox Community Center for a party after graduation.

The celebration, put on by Project Graduation, is a time for the seniors to smile and laugh after recognition of their academic achievements.

When the pandemic hit, Pam Strietelmeier, project graduation chair, knew the party would be cancelled.

That wasn’t going to stop her from making sure the seniors felt celebrated.

“We had to up our game,” she said.

Usually at the party, each student walks away with a prize.

She had to take her project to the parking lot as seniors grabbed their caps, gowns and year books in a drive-by at Collierville High.

She wanted to ensure each of Collierville’s 647 seniors got something.

“We had to do it last minute in a pandemic,” she said.

Strietelmeier loves fundraising, but she had about three days to pull the project together.

People around town, pitched in. Enough gift cards were donated for each Collierville senior to have one.

“The community backed us,” she said, noting she was grateful as she is also a senior mom.


May 06, 2020

Church bells to honor front line workers

12:55 PM CT, May 6

The bells of Idlewild Presbyterian Church will ring at 7 p.m. in honor of health care workers.

The church is starting the tradition on National Nurse’s Day but plans to do so each Wednesday. It hopes other churches will do the same

“At Idlewild we are joining with other churches in tolling our tower bells to honor and thank the healthcare workers who give of themselves during the current pandemic,” Barry Oliver, director of music ministry said.


May 04, 2020

Studio Institute provides children art supplies, lesson packets

4:28 PM CT, May 4

Two weekends ago, Studio Institute’s teaching artists assembled 500 art supply kits. On Thursday, April 30 they delivered 250 of them to Memphis Delta Prep for student families to pick up. The next day, Friday, May 1, they delivered the other half to KIPP Memphis Academy Elementary. 

The kits included drawing pencils, erasers, crayons, watercolor trays, paper, sketchbooks, a printed lesson packet with step-by-step instructions, and links to online lessons and videos. The packets included drawing, collage, self-portraits, painting, and activities for students to explore their neighborhood and create art in response.

Students are encouraged to email photos of their finished artwork to Studio Institute teachers for feedback, as well as compilation into a virtual exhibition.

Before the schools closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, the artists visited kindergarten and first grade classrooms at those schools.

With kids at home, the organization was tasked with engaging the students who may have little or no access to technology or basic art supplies. Memphis program coordinator Amy Foote received an emergency grant from the Urban Child Institute to purchase supplies and to get art lesson plans and kits assembled and delivered. 

Foote and teaching artists Tracy Treadwell, Terry Lynn and Carl Scott assembled the kits.

Studio Institute’s new online resource program, “Look, Create, Share” will be available at and include video art lessons led by Memphis artists, as well as artists from other cities.


Whitehaven High virtually celebrates 50 $1 million scholars

3:39 PM CT, May 4

Whitehaven High School held its annual Academic Signing Day as a virtual ceremony on Thursday, April 30 honoring 50 seniors who have secured at least $1 million in academic scholarships.

If you missed the festivities, you can view the ceremony here: here.

During the ceremony, the students one-by-one announced the total amount they have been offered in scholarships, as well as which college they ultimately decided on. Because of the pandemic, students made the announcements this year from their homes. 

Below is the school’s top five scholarship-securing students and their college of choice.

  • Jordyn Westbrook, $7 million, Fisk University
  • Kanecia Jones, $6.2 million, Tennessee State University
  • Marissa Ingram, $4.2 million, University of Mississippi
  • Hawa Kaloko, $4 million, Tennessee State University
  • Hawa Konate, $3.9 million, University of Memphis

Peer Power Foundation produced the ceremony.


U of M lab producing free face shields for health care workers

3:07 PM CT, May 4

The University of Memphis’ Herff College of Engineering has partnered with two companies to make free face shields for health care workers. 

Precision Plastics is providing the raw plastic materials, MCR Safety is creating the plastic face shields and U of M’s Metal Additive Manufacturing Lab is creating the headgear bracket frame using five commercial-grade 3D printers. MCR is also distributing the face shield kits (which include assembly instructions) to first responders, health care facilities and medical professionals.

“Under the direction of Dr. Ebrahim Asadi, our Metal Additive Manufacturing Lab began in March generating face shield frames to support the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency,” said Rick Sweigard, dean of the Herff College of Engineering. “When this order was complete, Dr. Asadi remained committed to getting face shields in the hands of those who need them most, frontline health care workers. We are grateful that MCR Safety’s founder, Hilliard Crews, a University of Memphis alumnus and key contributor of the U of M’s Crews Center for Entrepreneurship, connected Dr. Asadi to MCR Safety and Precision Plastics.”

The goal is to create 600 face shield kits, but Asadi said that goal could be extended, based on community need.

First responders and medical professionals who would like to receive free kits are to contact Chris Smith, MCR Safety’s director of marketing at (901) 409-9020 or


Mid-South COVID-19 Regional Response Fund grants $237,000

2:48 PM CT, May 4

In its seventh round of disbursements, the Mid-South COVID-19 Regional Response Fund has issued 13 grants totalling $237,000.

According to The Community Foundation of Greater Memphis, that brings the cumulative total of grants distributed to the fund to $1.78 million. The fund supports organizations impacted by the novel coronavirus. 

The latest grants are as follows: 

  • Block Party for Peace/Our Grass Our Roots: $10,000 to support the Masks for Memphis project 
  • City of Memphis: $18,000 to purchase and distribute personal protective equipment to essential workers in government, business, and nonprofits 
  • Families Matter: $10,000 to provide mental health support to families and children in ZIP codes with the highest number of administered tests and positive COVID-19 results 
  • First Congregational Church – Memphis: $2,500 to support COVID-19 response work for immigrants being done by Mariposas Collective 
  • For the Kingdom: $10,000 to feed youths, seniors, and first responders Monday-Friday with a goal of expanding to three apartment complexes in 38128 
  • Hospitality Hub: $15,000 to work with Community Alliance for the Homeless, Memphis Housing & Community Development, and MIFA to provide shelter-in-place, case management, and supportive services to those experiencing homelessness in three locations 
  • Love Doesn’t Hurt: $1,500 to support LGBTQ+ victims of domestic violence with emergency services and case management 
  • Memphis Area Legal Services: $50,000 to assist individuals who are unemployed due to COVID-19 avoid eviction or foreclosure, receive SNAP and unemployment benefits, and receive relief from COVID-19-related scams 
  • Memphis Artists for Change: $15,000 to provide food and short-term internet access for 300+ people in Whitehaven, North Memphis, and South Memphis, and to distribute PPE to high-risk populations 
  • Memphis Health Center: $25,000 to support COVID-19 testing and associated expenses 
  • One Family Memphis (Memphis Rox): $10,000 to prepare and serve of 150 lunches Monday-Friday to the Soulsville community and families impacted by COVID-19 
  • Whole Child Strategies: $50,000 to provided coordinated response for families in eight neighborhoods 
  • Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis: $20,000 to provide COVID-19 response in 38126 

Individuals, businesses and foundations have contributed more than $3 million to the fund. Click here to learn more about the fund, or to donate. 


Local chef to distribute free meals in North Memphis Tuesday

2:30 PM CT, May 4

A local chef will be giving out free meals for up to 150 families in the North Memphis area Tuesday, May 5.

Chef Phillip Dwayne will have those meals prepared and ready for distribution at 4 p.m. at Humes Middle School, 659 N. Manassas St. The meals are made possible from a donation from local philanthropists Brad and Felicia Robinson, according to a release.

Dewayne is owner of Park+Cherry Café inside the Dixon Galley and Gardens and RECOVER meal prep service. Meals will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis. Dewayne has also donated meals to front line works at local hospitals in recent weeks through his meal prep service.

“Many families have lost income while the city tries to stop the spread of coronavirus,” Dewayne said. “Our school system and concerned citizens have been making sure students receive lunch so the Robinsons and I decided to provide dinner as another way to assist and let the residents know we care about them, their health, and nutrition. We hope to receive additional funding to make this an ongoing effort.”

Memphis City Councilwoman Michalyn Easter-Thomas helped organized Tuesday’s meal distribution event, according to the release.

“It is my pleasure to connect those who want to help the people of my district. We can all appreciate a good meal. This is a great way to love on our children in North Memphis,” said Easter-Thomas, whose district includes North Memphis.

Those who want to donate to Dewayne’s distribution efforts can contact him or call (901) 849-4569.


U of M professor donates art supplies to detained youth

2:16 PM CT, May 4

Demetria Frank, an associate professor at the University of Memphis, donated arts and craft supplies to the children detained at the Shelby County Juvenile Detention Center.

This is the second donation that Frank, who is an assistant professor of law and director of diversity and inclusion at the U of M’s school of law, has made to the children at the center, said Capt. Anthony Buckner, a spokesman for the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office.

The Sarah Hope Project, an organization founded by Sarah Rosenthal, a middle schooler in Shelby County, donated personal hygiene and gift bags on April 15 to the children at the detention center.

As of April 28, there were 61 children in custody at the facility at 616 Adams Ave.

Social justice advocates have requested that officials release the children to from custody because of the coronavirus.

Shelby County Juvenile Court Judge Dan Michael said they review the cases of the children at the center daily to see if any can be released.



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