Tiffany N. Turnage, Program Director
How was SMA started?
SMA opened its doors in the year 2000 to help support local civic organizations in addressing community concerns such as blight, food deserts, environmental racism, and social injustice. These issues are, and always will be, at the core of our agency’s mission.
What is your current focus?
SMA has focused on three core goals: social services, mentoring, and advocacy. In 2012, our agency took a dilapidated, rundown laundry in South Memphis and secured one million dollars to convert it into the first-of-its-kind laundromat and resource center, which we named “Social Suds.” This unique social entrepreneurial project built a state-of-the-art laundromat to attract individuals who often fall between the cracks of society, including the working poor and students. While customers were waiting for their clothes to wash and dry, they were able to receive free support services from over a dozen social service agencies. These agencies included the Shelby County Health Department, the Memphis VA Medical Center, the IRS, Hope Credit Union, Southern College of Optometry, Just City legal aid, and many more.
It was clear to us that communities such as South Memphis and Orange Mound could be better served with neighborhood-based social services, so we purchased a 53,000-sq.ft. warehouse in Soulsville, USA and began the process of leasing space to service agencies that can help improve the lives of area residents. In October 2019, the Shelby County Health Department opened a 10,000-sq.ft satellite office, now known as the SMA Urban Connect Warehouse. We are presently in discussion with a second agency that will utilize 25,000 sq.ft.
We also purchased an abandoned dairy factory a few years back and had the two-story building demolished. This left a two-acre open field, which we are working to transform into a community soccer field for youth.
How can people help address the needs of your community?
By getting involved. These communities suffer from being ignored. When we see our brother’s problem as our problem, we are moving in the right direction.
What accomplishments are you proud of?
Just to name a few, SMA partners with a dozen local neighborhood associations to provide support services to young people in the community. Also, SMA hosted a free laundry day this August and over 200 families received free laundry services over the course of an afternoon. Lastly, SMA hosted its first back-to-school supply/uniform giveaway. We were able to give over 100 children backpacks, school supplies, and uniforms.
Does SMA have any upcoming activities or events?
SMA will host our next Sisters Saving Sisters (SSS) class on Nov. 16. Sisters Saving Sisters is a group intervention program designed to empower young females between the ages of 14 to 22 who are in foster care, to help them become more knowledgeable about the risks of HIV/STDs and teen pregnancy among adolescent females.
SMA is also set to host an annual Christmas Tree Lighting in Soulsville this month. The official lighting will be Nov. 23 at 4 p.m. The 33-foot Christmas tree will be at the entrance of Soulsville, USA on Bellevue.
Lastly, SMA is planning our next back-to-school giveaway next year. We will provide backpacks and school supplies to at least 300 school-aged students to end the second half of the school year.
Get in touch with the South Memphis Alliance CDC
1048 S Bellevue Blvd, Memphis, TN 38106