Act of kindness inspires new program to expand reach of The MAX
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Act of kindness inspires new program to expand reach of The MAX

5 Min Read
September 18, 2020

Inspired by a long-distance act of generosity, the Mississippi Arts + Entertainment Experience has launched a new community partnership to share the joy and wonder of The MAX with people who might not otherwise be able to visit due to financial or other issues.

The initiative, known as MAXCares, provides admission and other membership privileges to clients of local nonprofit organizations. MAXCares began with a generous offer by a California couple with Meridian ties who discovered the downtown Meridian facility and appreciated it so much they became members, according to Margo Evans, membership manager of The MAX.

Realizing that they wouldn’t be able to visit anytime soon, they asked to allocate their membership to someone less fortunate in the Meridian community. Touched by the kind gesture, The MAX staff reached out to local nonprofits and donors and put together the MAXCares program.

Financial supporters of MAXCares will help provide one-year memberships to clients of partnering nonprofit organizations, including individuals facing economic, medical, or other hardships. To participate, the supporter will simply donate the full amount or provide partial membership support that can be combined with other donations. They may choose an organization from the program’s current agency list, or an organization will be designated through a rotation process.

Each recipient will receive a membership to The MAX containing the same benefits as those associated with all regular memberships, including free admission, a 10 percent discount in the museum’s gift shop, and a subscription to PLACE, the quarterly newsletter of The MAX. The California couple requested that the Salvation Army select the recipient.

“We are proud to be a recipient of the MAXCares program. We love collaborations with local organizations and entities that improve the lives of others,” Meridian Salvation Army Corps officer Lt. Tamara Robb said.

“The beneficiaries are people that we serve in the community that have reached their lowest point and need a bright spot in their lives. The MAX provides that escape for them and a chance to reignite dreams and passion. We are grateful to be able to pass that along to the people that we serve,” Robb said.

The Free Clinic of Meridian and The Care Lodge also are among the program's first participants.

“The clients we help to become independent don’t always have funds to pay for entertainment or workshops,” Care Lodge Executive Director Abby Miller said.

"Care Lodge is so grateful to partner with the Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Experience’s MAXCares Program to offer free memberships to survivors of domestic violence throughout East Mississippi. Through this membership, wonderful opportunities to learn new skill sets involving fine arts are provided to individuals and families who have left abusive home environments. MAX workshops, concerts, family movie viewings, and other events give survivors of domestic violence a positive outlet to channel their healing and enjoy some of Mississippi’s finest art and entertainment."

Free Clinic of Meridian Executive Director Stephanie Woodall also considers MAXCares “a wonderful opportunity” to partner with The MAX.

“This is a wonderful incentive for our patients, as well as our volunteers who give so much of their time to our facility,” Woodall said. “We serve uninsured patients of East Mississippi and West Alabama who have limited income. MAXCares is an opportunity to extend something extra to someone who may be unable to attend some of The MAX concerts, workshops and other events offered.”

Other nonprofits that want to participate can contact Evans at 601-581-1550, ext. 24, or margo@msarts.org. Individuals can share their own love for The MAX by donating through the website; visit msarts.org/MAXCares.

“Art encourages creative thinking and imagination in children and adults,” Evans said. “Creative activity and an immersive museum environment can positively impact the well-being of people suffering from distress. This new partnership offers one way of meeting community needs, as we all enjoy world-class exhibits on figures like Elvis, Leontyne Price, Eudora Welty, B.B. King and Tennessee Williams.”