MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Founder of Memphis Rox, Tom Shadyac says it’s called Soulsville for a reason. Soul music, Aretha Franklin and Dr. Martin Luther King Junior were all a big part of the identity of the Memphis neighborhood. Shadyac is leaning on the relationships he’s built in the community to highlight the good during the coronavirus.
“We all need each other, it’s never been more apparent,” Shadyac said.
Memphis Rox is a climbing gym open to anyone whether they can pay or not. It would be filled with kids and families, but now the climbing walls are empty. Even though there’s no activity inside, they’re still serving. Providing lunches and essential products like paper towels, trash bags and making hand sanitizers.
“We’re an under served community and a lot of times under served communities don’t get the resources the other communities do,” Shadyac said. “They may not even get the information and they’re at risk of course because they are doing the jobs.”
Every day Shadyac and his team are serving up to 200 lunches. He hopes to make 400 boxes of essentials and distribute at least 1,000 bottles of hand sanitizer.
“This COVID-19 virus has showed us that as long as there’s one person that’s unhealthy in our communities, then we’re all unhealthy,” he stressed. “And neighborhoods like ours have been overlooked for far too long. We haven’t cared about their health outcomes, which is why many in neighborhoods like ours, disenfranchised neighborhoods are more vulnerable to this virus.”
He says his mission is all about relationships and this new way of serving has turned into a new ritual for many families.
“The spirits in our neighborhood are strong. And I marvel and am edified by all of them. They’re so grateful, so appreciative and they’ve been through tough things before in their life,” Shadyac said.
According to Tom Shadyac, Memphis Rox has been approved for a loan through the government’s program. It will keep his more than 60 employees working. He said more than half of those are kids who came from the Soulsville neighborhood or challenged backgrounds that now inspire little kids.
To learn how to donate visit Memphis Rox.