Chantel Marsaw expands non-profit organization
ALCORN STATE UNIVERSITY NEWS
Chantel Marsaw receives Unsung Hero Award
Blueprint Mississippi Social Business Challenge a success (“It Still Takes a Village” wins first place)
Alcorn student Chantel Marsaw spreads love to grieving families
On Valentine’s Day, most people, especially couples, display their love
for each other by giving
bears and chocolate candies to their loved ones. Instead of spending
the day of love the traditional way, Alcorn State University student and Natchez, Miss. native Chantel
Marsaw decided to spread love to those who were grieving the loss of a loved one.
Marsaw and her “It Still Takes A Village” organization hosted the
Valentine’s Balloon Release
Memorial for more than 20 bereaved families on the Natchez bluff Sat.
Feb. 14. Marsaw and
members of the popular organization showered families with love and
encouragement aimed at
helping them cope with the pain caused by the death of those close to
Marsaw’s idea to do a memorial was sparked by her own struggles with
processing the loss of
“February is a very hard month for me,” said Marsaw. “I’ve lost several
family members during
this month. I recently lost my father in January, so I knew there had
to be others who haven’t had
a chance to grieve yet. I wanted to use Valentine’s Day to show support
to whoever may have
To Marsaw’s surprise, the memorial caused the grieving families to bond
with each other like
never before. “The impact on the community shocked me. When everything was over,
everyone hugged and thanked me for the memorial. There were even some tourists who
approached me and shared their stories about their deceased loved ones.
Natchez, Miss. native and senior at Alcorn State University
Chantel Marsaw’s success with her organization, “It Still
Takes A Village,” continues to attract recognition for her work
in the community.
Marsaw was among 12 people who were awarded the 2015
Jefferson Award for Public Service in Mississippi Thursday,
June 4 in Jackson, Miss. The awards are given at both national
and local levels. Local winners are ordinary people who do
extraordinary things without expectation of recognition. The
Jefferson Awards’ mission is to encourage and honor
individuals for their achievements and contributions through
public and community service.
Marsaw was excited about receiving the award. She humbly
thanked one of her professors at Alcorn for encouraging her
hrough the ups and downs.
“It feels great to be a Jefferson Award winner, especially since
I found out that the award is considered the Nobel Peace Prize
of public service,” said Marsaw.“My instructor and advisor for
my organization, Mr. Willie C. Anderson, told me that “It Still
Takes a Village” will be a winner. He was right! Mr. Anderson
always guides me in the right direction while encouraging me
to do right at all times. He stresses to me and the rest of his
students to never break the rules of the business world.”
Winning the award has motivated Marsaw to take her
organization to new heights.
“Winning this award has motivated me to do more for my
community. My plans for my organization are to open a
community center in the Natchez area and then expand it as
far as possible. It has become very clear to me that this
program is much needed in all communities. I currently have
between 150-200 students in the program from Adams,
Jefferson, Franklin and Wilkinson counties. My list continues
to grow, but I am ready for the task.”
Alcorn student Chantel Marsaw named Jefferson Award recipient
When Natchez, Miss. native and business administration major Chantel
Marsaw’s “It Still Takes a Village” non-profit
organization won first place in the Blueprint Mississippi Social
Business Challenge, she was overcome with emotion.
“It feels so great to win,” said Marsaw. “We put in so much hard work
into this organization and it’s finally paying off.”
Marsaw’s business partner and junior business administration major
James Lurks showed pride in their organization and the work they have displayed in surrounding communities.
“It feels good to actually put this presentation into action by helping
the community,” said Lurks, who is a Woodville, Miss. native. Marsaw’s organization, whose first place win earned them a chance to
compete in the state competition in Jackson, Miss. next year, were among four other teams who competed in the Mississippi
Public Universities sponsored event Tuesday, Nov. 18 in the Dr. Clinton Bristow Jr. Dining Facility Gold Room. Marsaw’s
organization has been instrumental in helping more than 50 local students with deceased parents graduate from high school.
When Natchez, Miss. native Chantel Marsaw looks at the impact she has made in the lives of teens with deceased parents, her emotions get the best of her.
“I cry a lot when I think about the way all of the children respond to me,” said Marsaw, who is a business administration major at Alcorn State University. “It is a feeling I really cannot describe. I was once one of those students when I was in high school. I lost so many loved ones at once.”
Marsaw’s “It Still Takes a Village” organization has been
instrumental in helping 52 high school graduates from both public and private schools in the Natchez area. Marsaw’s success has given her the opportunity to extend her help to Jefferson County, Claiborne County, and Wilkinson County schools.
“I expanded because I want to reach as many students as I can. I knew if a town as small as Natchez had so many students without a parent, then there were more in surrounding counties.”
Marsaw’s inspiration for the organization started when her daughter, who was her class president in 2013, asked her to do something special for her classmates with parents who had passed away. She then started the non-profit organization by going to local
high schools and meeting guidance counselors to see what students were in need.
“At the time, I really wasn’t sure what to do, so I prayed and the vision just came to me.”
With Marsaw having so much on her plate from being a full time
college student to working to provide for her family, the task can
be stressful. Playing an important role in the lives of teenagers
keeps her going.
“I find it very rewarding to help any child who needs me. I feel that this is important because it shows every child that the community is behind them for support, love, compassion and understanding.”
Although a success, Marsaw has a bigger vision for her
organization. She has her eyes set on nurturing toddlers and pre-teens.
Each year, Natchez newspaper, The Natchez Democrat, spotlights
citizens who go above and beyond for their community service. This
Alcorn State University student and Natchez, Miss. native Chantel
among those who are known for making an effort to make Adams County a
Marsaw, who is the founder of the organization, “It Still Takes a
among seven Natchez community leaders who were awarded the Unsung Hero
Award by the city newspaper earlier this month for her organization’s
with teenagers with deceased parents.
Marsaw’s organization has played a major role in helping high school
who suffered the loss of a parent with their schoolwork and graduation.
nonprofit organization has been instrumental in the lives of more than
school graduates in its three years of existence. Marsaw recently
program to school districts in Jefferson, Claiborne, and Wilkinson
Marsaw was elated to know that her city had been keeping a close eye on
constant strides to uplift the youth in the Southwest region of
“It feels great to know that my community is watching me daily,” said
The majority of them are paying attention to everything I am doing to
community, along with several other communities as well.”