GREENWOOD, Miss., Aug. 9, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Premiering nationally on August 10, The Help not only offers a fictional depiction of life in a southern town in the 1960's, but also provides a glimpse of one real-life community in need. Baptist Town, a historic 100-year old African-American community in Greenwood, Miss. was once home to blues legend Robert Johnson and the filming location of several scenes of The Help. In recent years, this neighborhood has been troubled with problems of drug abuse, youth gangs, unemployment, and a general lack of community focus.
"During the filming in Baptist Town, it became apparent to members of the cast and crew that there was a large amount of potential talent and imagination present within the Baptist Town community," said Chris Columbus, producer of The Help and director of numerous films, including Harry Potter 1 and 2, Mrs. Doubtfire and Home Alone.
With the interest and support of the cast and crew of The Help, Baptist Town Community Development was formed to create an educational, cultural, and recreational community center for Baptist Town. Accessible by all residents, this community center will provide opportunities for community members to learn, develop, and enhance their academic and artistic abilities. The main components of the planned community center will include reading, writing and mentoring programs, music, arts, film and theatre workshops, and a computer lab.
Net proceeds from the film's Madison, Miss. screening on July 30 are being donated to Baptist Town Community Development as seed money for the Baptist Town Community Center. About 1,100 people attended the benefit screening, raising approximately $150,000 in ticket sales.
The Baptist Town Community Center will be the first step in The Baptist Town Revitalization Plan, a master plan for improving the community. The Carl Small Town Center (CSTC), a nonprofit organization within the College of Architecture, Art and Design at Mississippi State University, was established in 1979 by Fred Carl, Founder and CEO of Viking Range Corporation. The CSTC, which works to revitalize and preserve small towns throughout the state of Mississippi, developed long-range plans to address the community's primary needs of housing improvements, safety, and community pride and focus. Working in partnership with the City of Greenwood and the Kennedy School at Harvard University, the CSTC's long-range plans may soon become a reality as additional funds are obtained.
"We are incredibly grateful to those who recognized the need for such a plan and have put so much time and energy into these development efforts," said Greenwood Mayor Carolyn McAdams. "While revitalization of communities in need is an ongoing process, the residents of Baptist Town are encouraged and eager to move forward with improvements to their community."
SOURCE Baptist Town Community Development