Taking back our neighborhoods: Team Max - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Taking back our neighborhoods: Team Max

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By Ursula Madden - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Max Rose, the son of local philanthropist Gayle Rose and her former husband Mike Rose, was killed in a car crash in January of last year. To the people he helped and the lives he touched, he was known as the "gentle giant."

Max Rose worked with Streets Ministries. His efforts to take back our neighborhoods live on through Team Max.

At 6'7", Max Rose was hard to miss. While his size could have been used as a barrier to keep people away, his mother said his gentleness drew people in.

"He really was a relaxed, gentle person," said Gayle Rose. "But he had so much physical presence that it was impressive to them."

She said her son also became restless, in a good way.

"That sense to find a life of meaning, that was driving Max the last six months of his life," said Gayle Rose.

Before his death, Max Rose worked full time at Street Ministries and gave three nights a week to tutor students in Hickory Hill. He enrolled at Rhodes College to focus on religious studies so that he could become a minister in the inner city.

While Max Rose is no longer he, he left behind a legacy of service his friends wanted to adopt.

"They were calling me individually, saying, 'Mrs. Rose, we want to serve like Max did. You know, what can we do to get involved'," said Gayle Rose.

Gayle Rose said an idea then hit her.

"The whole idea in my mind became an idea I coined vigilante philanthropy," she said. "Where we could get a team, where we could go out and see where there's a need. In Memphis, that is every single day."

Using Facebook, Team Max came alive and thrived.

"We started to send out messages," said Gayle Rose. "You know, show up this weekend, we're going to do something for the Memphis Food Bank."

Community needs are posted with a call for volunteers, and as many as 50 people show up to help.

"We encourage people, if you join Team Max, you get a Team Max t-shirt," said Gayle Rose. "We are all there as a team and may serve a few hours and then be finished. They can go on to their jobs or whatever their family is demanding of them, but they have the sense that they have done something."

"Kids need to know, to be involved in service, you don't have to have money, you don't necessarily have to join a board," said Gayle Rose. "All you have to do is show up."

The grassroots program has now gone viral.

"It's a movement now," said Gayle Rose. "Not just a local endeavor honoring Max Rose. It's now a movement of service that has grown beyond Memphis."

People in other states, and even in other counties, are now living out Max Rose's mission of service.

"I know he's smiling from heaven," said Gayle Rose. "I feel that every time I'm out there."

To learn more about Team Max, click here.

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