Leadership Natchez looking to help Pleasant Acres

Published 11:45 am Thursday, March 29, 2007

This year’s Leadership Natchez class is planning to give a local nonprofit group a little more elbow room.

Every year, the Chamber of Commerce-sponsored class chooses a project, a way to help nonprofits. This year, they picked Pleasant Acres Day School.

“We chose Pleasant Acres because we felt they got the least amount of funding from grants and other services,” Leadership Natchez member Wanda Frye said. “They touched our hearts, and we felt they had the greatest need and that we could do something positive for them.”

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That something positive is raising funds to construct a building where the students can work on projects.

The school, which originally taught mentally challenged children, now provides life skills training for adults.

One of the ongoing projects the students do is sorting donated Mardi Gras beads and selling them.

Right now, space is a little tight, Director Mary Ann Foggo-Eidt said.

“Our facility is very small,” Foggo-Eidt said. “Our school was built for small people, so we have limited space.”

The bead project started several years ago, she said.

“It started off small, but it’s done so well and the community has responded so well, we’re in bead overload,” she said.

The money from bead sales goes to outings and field trips. Most recently, they took a trip to Cajun country and took swamp tours and ate Cajun cooking — all from money raised from the leftovers of a Mardi Gras parade.

Right now, storage is limited, and the students have to work on them and put them away.

That’s why Leadership Natchez hopes to raise money for a new building, Frye said.

“We’re gearing up to do a benefit dinner, a reception, a silent auction and a dance afterwards,” she said.

The fundraising gala will be held at the community center at 7 p.m. April 27. Reservations should be made no later than April 12.

Frye said she thought this year’s class had really been educational so far.

“I think leadership Natchez as a whole gives a different perspective on all the businesses in the area,” Frye said.

“It’s a learning process.”

The class has visited with government officials and toured different businesses in the area. Before choosing a project, the class visited nonprofit organizations, too.

“It has brought our awareness up as to exactly what businesses in Natchez do for our community,” she said.