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Youth-led business co-op in Mississippi leaves big impression

By Margaret Mwale

Mike Askew knows what it is like to be part of a Self-Development of People project and to serve on a Self-Development of People Committee. His initial involvement with SDOP was while living in Chicago over two decades ago. Fast forward to 2015. Mike is now an ordained Presbyterian pastor and serving as Chairperson of Florida Presbytery’s SDOP Committee.  Over the past 20 years he has been involved with SDOP Committees for the Presbyteries of Salem (NC), Milwaukee (WI) and East Tennessee.

 Although he says he has been touched by so many projects, one in particular that he remembers is a youth led, owned and controlled business cooperative project in Marks, MS. This was a group of youth that belonged to the Quitman County Federal Credit Union’s Youth Credit Union Program. Consisting of economically poor youth of Quitman County, MS, the Smart Talk Sweet Shop project came about after the youth came together to learn about how to make, manage and make money work for them. SDOP partnered with the group by awarding it a $38,000 grant. Parents served as advisors on the 16 member youth led board. Local congregations also helped support the youth in this business venture. Reverend  Askew says  “I was so impressed that the young people got together to do this project.”

Recently several low income grassroots community groups that wanted to learn more about how they could similarly partner with SDOP by applying for a grant attended a community workshop at First Presbyterian Church in Chipley, Florida. SDOP community partners (funded projects); local Presbyterians and pastors were also at the workshop. “The workshop was very insightful and informative in helping us get the word out about SDOP,” Mike says. “That is very important.”

Rev. Askew goes on to say, “SDOP as a One Great Hour of Sharing ministry helps people like the youth in the Smart Talk Sweet Shop project in a tangible way. Please join other Presbyterians and give to the OGHS offering this Easter. I have enjoyed working with SDOP immensely and am so thankful for the ministry of SDOP.”

For more Information:

Presbytery of Florida SDOP Committee:

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