Chantel Marsaw expands non-profit organization



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 them.

Marsaw’s idea to do a memorial was sparked by her own struggles with processing the loss of

family members.

“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

needed it.”

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 upstanding

citizens who go above and beyond for their community service. This year,

Alcorn State University student and Natchez, Miss. native Chantel Marsaw was

among those who are known for making an effort to make Adams County a

better place.

Marsaw, who is the founder of the organization, “It Still Takes a Village,” was

among seven Natchez community leaders who were awarded the Unsung Hero

Award by the city newspaper earlier this month for her organization’s work

with teenagers with deceased parents.

Marsaw’s organization has played a major role in helping high school students

who suffered the loss of a parent with their schoolwork and graduation. The

nonprofit organization has been instrumental in the lives of more than 50 high

school graduates in its three years of existence. Marsaw recently expanded the

program to school districts in Jefferson, Claiborne, and Wilkinson counties.

Marsaw was elated to know that her city had been keeping a close eye on her

constant strides to uplift the youth in the Southwest region of Mississippi.

“It feels great to know that my community is watching me daily,” said Marsaw. “

The majority of them are paying attention to everything I am doing to help my

community, along with several other communities as well.”