Celebrating 100 Years of Making Good Trouble

Jamar Doyle

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of being in Biloxi, Miss., to attend the “Making Good Trouble” conference to mark the 100-year anniversary of the Back Bay Mission. From Thursday, May 4 through Sunday, May 7, people from across the Gulf and around the country gathered for the four-day celebration, which was filled with fun, fellowship, and learning. Workshop sessions covered topics including climate change, racial injustice, myths regarding the unsheltered, how to grow your organization/church, benefits of plant-based foods, and more.

Since 1922, Back Bay Mission has been a lasting source of hope and help for thousands of children, adults, and families. The organization began supporting the children of poor seafood industry workers and immigrants who came to the area for employment opportunities. In the 1960s, Back Bay helped to fight segregation in the deep south, making good trouble along the Mississippi Gulf Coast despite the danger those who opposed segregation faced. In the 1970s, Back Bay expanded into providing healthcare and mental health services to the poor; and today, it provides services to the unhoused and unsheltered in addition to housing rehabilitation programs to low-income households. The evolution of this expansive mission is reflected in Back Bay’s mission to strengthen neighborhoods, seek justice, and transform lives on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

The event was not only a celebration of Back Bay’s history; it also provided the opportunity to learn about and engage with its programs in education and empowerment, housing rehabilitation, emergency assistance, outreach ministries to the unhoused, supportive housing, and more. Over cheesy grits at breakfast and shrimp boils in the evening, clients, employees, and volunteers all shared stories of the positive impact Back Bay has had in their lives. To commemorate their centennial, Back Bay Mission has launched a capital campaign to fund initiatives that will empower persons living in poverty to move towards greater self-sufficiency and sustainability. The campaign initiatives were identified by those working on the front lines to address the needs of the unsheltered and impoverished, and funds will be used to create new programs, expand existing services, and hire additional staff. While the conference festivities have ended, there is still time to join with Back Bay Mission by supporting their Making Good Trouble Capital Campaign and their transformative work on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

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