The Chamber is committed to making powerful and positive impacts in the River Region. It’s the foundation of the ongoing Imagine A Greater Montgomery strategy and the reason behind the MBJ’s MGM Impact Maker Awards. Through this initiative, MBJ highlights and honors those who are sharing innovative ideas and fresh perspectives while working hard on the ground to tackle our area’s toughest challenges.
MEET THE FINALISTS FOR THE 2020 MGM IMPACT MAKERS AWARDS: people, businesses and organizations whose attitudes, influence and actions are changing the capital city for the better.
BY THE PEOPLE Y’all spoke, and we listened! The 2020 Impact Makers were determined by nominations and votes from the community. More than 18,000+ votes were cast!
The Cancer Wellness Foundation of Central Alabama
The Cancer Wellness Foundation of Central Alabama is dedicated to providing direct patient support and educational services following a cancer diagnosis. Its focus is helping cancer patients and their families from 30 counties in central Alabama as they seek treatments and focus on their recovery. The Foundation serves those in need of assistance by providing transportation or gas vouchers to and from chemotherapy and radiation treatments, obtaining prescription medications for free or at a low cost, giving Chemo Comfort Care bags to all new patients and advocating on behalf of patients while they negotiate insurance issues and government programs such as Social Security, disability and Medicaid.
Alabama Shakespeare Festival
Alabama Shakespeare Festival, the state’s theatre, builds community by engaging, entertaining and inspiring people with transformative theatrical performances and compelling educational and community programs. Each year, some 100,000 people — nearly half of them students — visit ASF’s stages to see classics, Shakespeare, contemporary plays, musicals and new works. ASF serves its community by staging productions that recognize its diversity of people, cultures and ideas. When the pandemic halted the season, the theatre found new ways to serve: producing online performances and workshops — including a series of original works by Southern playwrights — and constructing masks for local organizations and healthcare facilities.
YMCA of Greater Montgomery
The YMCA exists to strengthen the foundation of the community. With a focus on youth development, healthy living and social responsibility, the Y nurtures the potential of every youth, improves our community’s health, supports basic human needs and doesn’t turn anyone away due their inability to pay for programs or services. The Y focuses on preventing childhood hunger, combatting health disparities, supporting education and inclusion for all. The Y provides the Brown Bag Bus mobile feeding unit, essential childcare for working parents, Power Scholars to prevent summer learning loss, and the Achievers program to encourage high school graduation.
Child Protect was established in 1989 as a 501(c)3 non-profit agency to assist the Department of Human Resources and Law Enforcement in their investigation of child sexual abuse and physical abuse. Child Protect exists to minimize that trauma and help rebuild young lives shattered by child abuse. The Child Protect Children’s Advocacy Center offers a non-threatening environment where a multidisciplinary team works together to minimize any further trauma during the justice and restoration process. Instead of having to be interviewed multiple times by different agencies and attorneys, child abuse victims are able to tell their story once, and the information is then shared among appropriate parties. This lessens the impact on the child abuse victim and family.
Jevonnah Ellison, The Entrepreneurial 1st Lady, LLC
Dr. Jevonnah “Lady J” Ellison brought The Thrive Summit to Montgomery, where leaders from all over the world came together to learn how to grow their businesses while keeping God first. From entrepreneurs just starting out to those already thriving in business, everyone is impacted by her life-changing coaching that helps leaders discover and walk in their true God-given purpose. She recently organized a Prayer & Justice Walk to help bring positive change and courageous kindness to our communities.
Wade Preston, Co-Owner, Prevail Coffee
Wade Preston is a social entrepreneur and co-founder of Prevail Coffee, a craft coffee brand headquartered in Montgomery. The brand’s flagship cafe, Prevail Union MGM, has become a hub for the vibrant community emerging in downtown. Recently, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Prevail Union reworked its business model to facilitate donations and delivery of fresh brewed coffee to frontline healthcare workers at local hospitals. With a background in nonprofit work and an education in philosophy, Wade has crafted Prevail Coffee into a thoughtful brand that is committed to ethical sourcing through direct trade relationships with coffee farmers all over the world.
Mia Mothershed, Marketing Director, Jackson Hospital
Mia Mothershed has spent the last 21 years soaking up all Montgomery has to offer. From consulting with the Small Business Incubator before becoming a small business owner in Montgomery, to becoming a Class VI graduate of the city’s Torchbearer Leadership program, she has done it all. As an entrepreneur, Mothershed provided a space for young girls to see and aspire to be positive role models in our community. She believes it is what you do when no one is watching that matters. This belief fuels her participation in close to 100 community events a year.
Under the leadership of Sieu Tang Wood, Tang’s Alterations has expanded to five locations throughout the River Region and has a reputation of quality service to its customers. Tang’s has always been a strong supporter of the local community and continues to serve the needs of our local military community at Maxwell AFB and Gunter AFB in Montgomery. Wood and her family also initiated and launched the International Tasting Dinner more than 15 years ago. The annual event is hosted at Southern Homes and Gardens and the food is donated by many local restaurants, individuals and committee members. To date, the event has raised more than $360,000 for the Montgomery Area Council on Aging. During the pandemic, Tang’s continued to provide support and totally pivoted its business model to fill a need and offer assistance. During the lockdown, Wood and her entire staff shifted their focus to make and provide critical PPE to our local healthcare personnel. More than 3,000 face masks and 1,000 medical gowns were made and donated to the staff of Jackson Hospital alone.
Beauty & Beyond
Twenty years ago, Ashraf Hijaz, the owner of Beauty & Beyond, began looking for a shopping center in Montgomery to start a beauty supply store. Today, two decades later, Beauty & Beyond has 15 stores across Alabama, including seven in Montgomery. At the beginning of 2020, as news of the pandemic broke, Beauty & Beyond, which routinely carries small quantities of alcohol, hand sanitizer, masks and gloves, used its wholesale connection to import large quantities of the supplies. When COVID-19 reached Alabama, the business was one of a few retailers who had masks available for the local population. Beauty & Beyond also donated 18,000 masks to the Montgomery Police Department, the sheriff department, hospitals and other nonprofit organizations to help them safely to do their jobs.
Cahawba House, known for its “Bama Bona Fide Southern Cuisine,” is a four-year old, breakfast and lunch venue with sidewalk seats dishing up locally sourced, Southern classics. Following the statewide mandate to close dine-in service, Cahawba House’s sales plummeted 80 percent in just one week. Instead of worrying about the threat of the coronavirus’s impact on their restaurant, owners and brother and sister pair, Tara and Tim Essary, chose hope over fear and reimagined their business model. With more and more grocery stores struggling to restock their shelves, the duo decided to remove all the restaurant’s tables from the dining room to make room for freezers and shelving to create their own market featuring products from local farmers; household items; fresh bread, milk and dry goods; and frozen, comfort-food dinners, all available for curbside pickup. Cahawba House is also functioning as a restaurant again.
Smoothie King’s mission is to inspire people to live a healthy and active lifestyle and to be an integral part of every health and fitness journey. The business empowers its guests to fuel their bodies with delicious food to support an active lifestyle. Over the past 13 years, the company’s “smoothies with a purpose” have impacted the health journey of those it serves and serves its community through partnerships with schools, nonprofit, and community activities. Smoothie King can be found offering samples at events like the Capital City 10 Miler and Turkey Burner or collecting shoes for impoverished children. The business also supports the local Backpack Feeding program, which provides weekend meals to elementary-school children.
Down with the Pounds
For more than 12 years, Down with the Pounds Medical Weight Loss and More has been helping people in the River Region look and feel better about themselves. The business believes that everyone is created by God and should feel great about themselves. If someone is not at the healthy weight that they should be, Down with the Pounds can help them on their journey to a healthier and happier life. The business strives to make patients feel at home as soon as they enter the office and looks forward to continuing to provide healthy weight loss care to Alabamians for many years to come.
Chappy’s Deli is a local, family-owned and operated business working alongside, feeding, serving and supporting the Montgomery community since 1989. Many generations of locals have made Chappy’s Deli a part of their lives, for years enjoying the huge breakfast, lunch and dinner menus in a family atmosphere and the “Kids Eat Free” menu. Chappy’s Deli strives to “Serve with Love,” partnering with various community charities, the arts, schools and many other nonprofits. The 300-plus staff willingly embraces this giving spirit, reflecting integrity, strong values and Christian principles throughout.
Bibb Street Pizza Company
Bibb Street Pizza Company is located in the heart of downtown Montgomery and is the city’s premier New York style pizzeria. It offers great lunch specials at a quick pace for the business crowd, a perfect atmosphere for date night or family night and is a great part of the tourism scene in historical downtown. Along with its customers and friends, Bibb Street Pizza offers “Slice of Life” pizza slices, donated by the public, to help feed those in need or who are without the option to enjoy a meal.
When you lift the bun off a Milo’s original burger you’ll notice something unexpected, an extra piece of meat. The company calls that the LSE, “the Little Something Extra.” Since 1946, that little extra piece of meat has served as a symbol for how Milo’s sees the world. Beyond simply serving food, Milo’s team serves each other and their friends and neighbors, considering it a privilege to do so. The business has actively worked to make an impact in the Montgomery community by partnering with schools, churches,
nonprofits and businesses to build a brighter future for us all.
Auburn University at Montgomery
For 50 years, Auburn University at Montgomery has been a trusted neighbor and community partner. Ranked among the top universities in the region by U.S. News & World Report, AUM is the first choice for first-generation college students from the River Region. Academic excellence shows through in its allied healthcare programs, which prepare current and future practitioners for a changing landscape, but AUM’s mission transcends teaching. When the COVID-19 pandemic reached a critical stage in the community earlier this year, the university offered dorm rooms as a safe haven for Baptist Health nurses. Its outreach ranges from local holiday toy drives to its annual Martin Luther King Jr.
Breakfast, which celebrates Montgomery’s civil rights history while fostering community connectivity.
Baptist Health is the largest healthcare provider in Central Alabama and is composed of three hospitals, Montgomery Cancer Center, UAB Medicine Multispecialty Clinic, Crossbridge Behavioral Health, Montgomery Surgical Center, multiple imaging centers, AFC PriMeds and many employed physician practices. With nearly 5,000 employees and 600 physicians, Baptist Health serves the community and local businesses with a wide range of wellness programs and services designed to help people live healthier and happier lives. From open-heart surgery and rehabilitative services to community outreach and support groups encompassing almost any medical need or problem, Baptist Health is committed to serving the complete healthcare needs of the community.
MOBIS Alabama, LLC
Mobis Alabama has been impacting the Montgomery community since 2002. A Tier 1 supplier for Hyundai and Kia, Mobis has grown to employ almost 1,500 River Region citizens at its state-of-the-art manufacturing and assembly facility. It seeks to serve its community through sponsoring youth sports teams, supporting local schools and participating in charity events. Most recently, Mobis donated thousands of masks to local first responders. The Mobis team believes, “We are stronger when we work together, and that the same concept applies to our community. As we work and serve together, our investment will make Montgomery an even better home for us all.”