Walt Disney’s reimagining of Cinderella has enchanted little girls and boys all over the world since its 1950 release. The classic folktale teaches a number of lessons that have stood the test of time, including the value of kindness, never giving up, and that, sometimes, all it takes is little “bippity boppity boo” to turn a dream into a reality.
The New Expectations for Women in Mississippi (NEWMS) began the Fairy Godmothers program in 2011 with the intent to provide local “Cinderellas” with a means to make it to the “ball”; in other words, the Fairy Godmothers program is a private group that generates funds to help the struggling women of Northeast Mississippi.
According to the NEWMS website, the program donates funds “to assist with short-term needs that cannot be met by other charitable programs.” Since its inception, the organization has helped over 60 women achieve a variety of goals. Most of their work consists of assisting and fulfilling smaller-scale funding requests, such as car repairs, gas money, book donations, school supplies or expenses, or testing fees.
While the Fairy Godmothers would like to help as many people as they can, they do not often have the means to do so, given that lack the same support as much more mainstream nonprofits. However, they combat their limitations by aiming to help in situations where there is not a larger organization available to help.
“What we’re looking for is when there’s not somebody else to handle it. Think about the young mother that has a job and kids, she’s doing OK until something happens to her car and then she’s at risk of losing her job and not being able to take care of her family,” Charlise Latour, a first-year board member for the Fairy Godmothers, told Daily Journal.
The Fairy Godmothers have noticed that a majority of problems the women face have to do with housing and transportation. For example, the Fairy Godmothers helped a newly-single mother after she escaped a domestic violence situation with her 20-month-old daughter. The organization paid the deposit on a new home as well as for the first month’s rent and utilities, to give the pair a safe space to live in while the mother worked to get back on her feet.
“A lot of people we help are already on a path to improving their lives and they hit a speed bump, we want to take care of that speed bump… saying we’re going to hand you some money and it’s going to fix things is not the same thing as saying, let me help you down the path you are already on, or help you get on a path that’s going to help you learn to take care of yourself,” Latour said.
There are currently 45 Godmothers involved in the program, which, according to program Chairwoman Rhonda Horton, is almost twice as many as last year. Horton explained that the Godmothers come across women in need and present the situations they find to the board. “A part of the responsibility and honor of being a Fairy Godmother is that, as we go out into our day-to-day lives and recognize needs, then as a Fairy Godmother, we can bring it to the board for review, and help them,” Horton said.
The Fairy Godmothers pay a $100 annual fee, $30 of which is due to the requirement that Godmothers must be a NEWMS member. The money collected goes directly into the Fairy Godmother fund. The program has expanded their fundraising efforts in recent years and now accepts online donations to support their cause.
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