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As Memphis Athletic Ministries (MAM) commemorates its 25th anniversary, we are honored to share 25 stories of impact, showcasing the incredible ways in which this youth ministry has touched lives and made a difference in the community. One such story comes from Carlos and Penny Walker, devoted grandparents and caregivers to nine wonderful grandchildren. Their journey with MAM, particularly through our Believe Memphis Academy location, is a testament to the profound impact of our programs on families and communities.

In December 2022, the MAM Grizzlies Center experienced significant damage during a winter storm. This incident forced us to stop operations at that location immediately. Within weeks, Believe Memphis Academy, a charter school located two miles away, graciously opened their doors to us. Since then, MAM has provided free afterschool and sports programming to students who attend the school, allowing us to continue our work in the Alcy Ball neighborhood. With four of their grandchildren attending Believe Memphis Academy, the Walkers quickly saw the benefits that MAM programs offer and eagerly signed them up.

Noah, Taleigha, and Tremaine attend MAM’s sports and afterschool programming at Believe Memphis Academy

For the Walkers, MAM has been more than just an afterschool program—it has been a lifeline. As caregivers to children ranging from ages 4 to 18, the Walkers face the daily challenge of ensuring their grandchildren are safe, engaged, and thriving. Here’s how MAM has made a difference according to the Walkers:

Child Care Assistance: MAM provides reliable after school care, easing the burden on Carlos and Penny.
Bible Study: Although the Walkers don’t attend church regularly, MAM’s Bible study sessions have filled a spiritual gap, offering their grandchildren valuable moral and ethical guidance.
Christmas Store: The Walkers were participants in the 2023 MAM Christmas Store, an annual event that helps selected MAM families with their Christmas shopping. The event was a significant blessing, helping the family during the holiday season.
Sports Programs and Behavior: MAM has helped improve their grandchildren’s behavior by introducing them to various sports, fostering teamwork and discipline.
Safe Environment: By providing a secure place for their grandchildren, MAM keeps them off the streets and away from potential trouble.
Building Confidence: The programs at MAM have built the children’s confidence, preparing them for future challenges.

When asked what their grandchildren would be doing if they didn’t attend MAM, Carlos and Penny acknowledged that they would likely be at home, possibly spending too much time on gaming systems or, worse, getting into trouble. MAM offers a constructive alternative, turning potentially idle time into opportunities for growth and learning.

Carlos and Penny have nothing but praise for the MAM staff. They appreciate how the coaches at MAM treat their grandchildren with kindness and understanding, often going above and beyond to ensure each child feels valued and loved. The introduction to sports has been particularly impactful, giving the children new interests and avenues to channel their energy positively.

“MAM is a good place for kids to go for aftercare and get homework help, and it’s a safe space to hang out with friends,” says Penny. This sentiment echoes the core values and mission of MAM: to coach, grow, and lead the youth of Memphis.Join us in celebrating the 25th anniversary of Memphis Athletic Ministries by becoming a monthly donor, or a MAM MVP. For just $25 a month, you can help us continue to provide a safe and nurturing environment for youth to experience Gospel-centered sports and afterschool programming. Your monthly donation will make a significant impact on our ministry, allowing us to provide even more opportunities to coach, grow, and lead the youth of Memphis. Click the image above to give $25 for 25.

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