Purpose Prize

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The Impact of Intergenerational Service

The Impact of Intergenerational Service

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hCElJjBO8Zo National service in this country is predominantly age-segregated. AmeriCorps largely enrolls young adults, while AmeriCorps Seniors exclusively recruits older ones. As a result, we’re missing big opportunities to pair the...

These 10 Innovators Use Cogeneration to Advance Economic Opportunity

These 10 Innovators Use Cogeneration to Advance Economic Opportunity

Our first group of CoGen Challenge awardees are bringing older and younger people together  to boost the economic prospects of substitute teachers, artists with disabilities, people without homes, girls facing hardship in Appalachia, and so much more.   To learn more...

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Alice M. Graham

Purpose Prize Fellow

Alice Graham was a professor at Hood Theological Seminary in North Carolina when Hurricane Katrina slammed the Gulf Coast in 2005. With media attention riveted on New Orleans, she was surprised when a colleague told her about severe devastation on the Mississippi coast. She was called to act. In her eagerness to help victims of the storm, she broke a promise she had made to herself more than 50 years earlier, when Emmett Till, a black male teen accused of flirting with a white woman, was murdered in Mississippi. She swore she’d never set foot in the state.

She thought her mission in Mississippi would be temporary, but soon felt a calling to continue her work there. In 2009, Graham became executive director of Interfaith Partnerships (formerly Mississippi Coast Interfaith Disaster Task Force). Formed in 1980 as a short-term resource for people after Hurricane Frederick, the task force played a major role in coordinating the huge response of government agencies, faith-based groups and a million volunteers when Katrina hit.

“Hurricane Katrina altered the trajectory of my life. I moved from North Carolina to the Mississippi Coast to contribute my education, training and experience as a pastoral counselor to disaster recovery,” Graham says of her encore career.

Today, Graham has added dramatically to the task force’s menu of educational opportunities, including a mental health initiative, anti-bullying resources for communities and schools, and new trainings on cultural competency for emergency personnel. Graham also created a system of Congregation Disaster Coordinators to act as bridges among myriad services – practical, emotional, medical, spiritual – that disaster victims need. The number of coordinators has grown nearly four-fold in the last two years. “I have tremendous gratitude for the opportunity to use my gifts and talents for work that is making a difference in so many lives,” she says.