Writing Centers see benefits of Foundation donation

by | Jun 20, 2023 | Foundation

Four student tutors for Hinds Community College’s Writing Centers were able to shine at a statewide conference at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, thanks in part to a modest but significant targeted donation.

Retired CIA employee Merrily Baird, who lives in Atlanta, was featured in Hindsight Winter 2022 as an admirer from afar, and since then, she has become sponsor to the five Hinds Writing Centers that offer services to students who want writing help.

Writing Center Director Bethani England got to know Baird through a telephone relationship when England worked for the Hinds Community College Foundation prior to transitioning to the Raymond Writing Center four years ago. Baird has never been to Hinds but developed an interest in the college through a friend and kept up with the college through reading the quarterly magazine, making regular donations to existing funds.

But Baird decided she wanted to target her gifts so that they would be meaningful to students who might not receive help otherwise. She created a Writing Center fund through the Foundation.

“She wanted to start something of her own, invest in something that wasn’t being invested in already,” England said.

Baird described her inspiration for starting the Writing Center Fund as “priming the pump” and said she hopes others will be influenced to donate to the Writing Centers or other Hinds endeavors that directly impact students.

Baird’s gift allowed England and the four students to attend the Mississippi Writing Center Association conference in Hattiesburg, where the students made academic presentations. One student was able to purchase an appropriate blazer to wear to make his presentation. The gift also allowed the group to be treated to a lunch at a Japanese restaurant they chose, which Baird says she believes is an important experience for them to have.

The students sent Baird copies of their presentation papers and heartfelt thank you notes for her role in ensuring they could attend, in style, a prestigious academic conference. “Thank you for gifting myself and my peers with this amazing experience,” one student wrote. Another wrote, “The conference was truly a life-changing experience.”

“I was looking to change some lives for the better,” Baird said. “I couldn’t have been more delighted.”

England said the Writing Centers are a gathering place for many students.

“The students who enter these doors are welcomed and accepted by their peers. They are given a safe space to talk about reading, academic and creative writing, future plans, life goals, and personal and professional ambitions,” she said. “All in all, the Hinds Writing Centers are where students feel comfortable discussing their writing.”

You can donate online, by locating the “Writing Center Fund” in the dropdown menu on the giving page, or call the Foundation to donate.