Celebrating a bright future for the Greater Belhaven Foundation

On Friday May 5th the staff, donors, volunteers, and supporters of the Greater Belhaven Foundation gathered at Deep South Pops to celebrate a major accomplishment – the creation of a new website that will reach far beyond the historic community, to those seeking a very special place to call home.

The generous event sponsors included Baptist Health Systems, Deep South Pops, Green Oak Florist and Garden Center, Kats Wine & Spirits and C Spire.

Laurel Isbister, the Executive Director of the GBF, tells us,

“We had two big reasons to celebrate. One, we completed a fantastic and useful website after six months of hard work. And two, we began the next chapter in the history of the Greater Belhaven Foundation – there was a real sense that this new phase is just beginning and that there are wonderful things ahead!”

GBF Executive Director, Laurel Isbister (center), speaks to Launch Party guests.

But this website signifies more than an accomplishment – it embodies the spirit of the people who call Belhaven home. From the artist creating and dreaming in the converted attic of their Tudor-style home, to the lawyer relaxing on the front porch of their restored Craftsman, perhaps with a glass of wine after powering through another challenging case – the people of the Greater Belhaven neighborhoods are significant in both their individuality as well as their collective drive.

The new Greater Belhaven Foundation website, found at www.greaterbelhaven.com, was designed to capture the unique outlook of the people within the community, and their desire to share this place with the world.

(LtoR) Elizabeth VanDeburgh, Bethany Byrd (President of Own Your Hill), Mary-Michael Lindsey

The website, created by Own Your Hill, a growth strategy and marketing firm based in Laurel, MS, features visuals that reflect the garden-like tranquility of the neighborhood, information both deep and carefully curated, robust event promotion features, and the latest in email-capturing and automating technology. It is designed to not only attract those who might one day join the neighborhood, but to promote those who have long supported its cause.

Bethany Byrd, president of Own Your Hill, explained that the design, “leads visitors of all skill levels through a path of deeper understanding of the organization’s goals and many accomplishments, while inspiring those who are seeking somewhere truly unique to plant their roots. This tool will not only greatly improve the GBF’s marketing effectiveness, it will automate some of the smaller, daily tasks handled by the organization’s staff – freeing them to focus more intently on the hands-on activities that will build their community and grow the organization.”

Sara Sullivan, local singer-songwriter, performed throughout the event.

The launch event at Deep South Pops was a powerful reflection of the community’s understanding of what this next step will mean for all of the residents, business owners, institutions and organizations in the neighborhood.

As over one hundred people came by to both congratulate the GBF on their latest accomplishment, peruse the new website on iPads generously provided by C Spire, enjoy a glass of celebratory champagne provided by Kats Wine & Spirits or a delicious popsicle from Deep South Pops, and to share in the win for both the organization and their beloved neighborhood, the support of the community shone bright.

“The community support tells me that the hard work was worth it. The most satisfying part of my professional career is doing excellent work and fulfilling the mission of an important organization. Getting to talk to neighbors, donors, and others at the party kept a big smile on my face for hours and I know that this new online tool will empower and assist in the growth and longevity of Greater Belhaven for years to come,” Isbister shared.

As the room filled with GBF board members, donors, volunteers, the president of the BIA, the past president of the BHCA; representatives of the Friends of Laurel Street Park, New Stage Theatre, Baptist Health Systems, local universities, the MS Children’s Museum; founders and representatives of local media such as Find It In Fondren and Portico Jackson Magazine; and an outpouring of local business owners and residents, the party took on the feel of a backyard barbecue, punctuated by anecdotes and shared experiences from long-time friends and well-known neighbors.

Door prize winners Janine Buckley, Christin Barron, and Karen Gilder were gifted with 6-Month Healthplex Memberships courtesy of Baptist Health Systems.

Moving forward, the Greater Belhaven Foundation will use this new tool to promote their great local events such as this weekend’s Shakespeare in the Park, located at Belhaven Park this Sunday, May 14th. Go to the website now to sign up for email updates and to see all that this incredible neighborhood has to offer.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Download Text Version Here

Event Photos by David Sprayberry

Shakespeare returns to Belhaven Park for an evening of family-friendly and fantastical fun

Little ones run freely between picnic blankets and lawn chairs – exploring the park, waiting expectantly for the show to begin, for a new experience that they will remember for a long time to come. Soon, a hush flows through the crowd as the stage is set and the anticipation sets in. Theseus takes to the stage.
“Now, fair Hippolyta, our nuptial hour
Draws on apace; four happy days bring in
Another moon: but, O, methinks, how slow
This old moon wanes!”

The moon begins to appear above, as we join together and enjoy this wonderful, annual event celebrating the art and culture of the Greater Belhaven neighborhoods and the people who call them home.

This Sunday, May 14th at 6PM, join us in Belhaven Park for this free event as we enjoy the talents of the New Stage Theatre as they present Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

The event is funded by Arts Series sponsors Carol Taff, Funderburg, Sessums & Peterson, PLLC, Keifer’s Restaurant, The Manship, and McDade’s Market.

The theatre’s Young Acting Troupe will present a carefully abridged 60-minute version of one of “The Bard’s” most prolific works.

Kerri Sanders, Education Director of the New Stage Theatre, explains the plot:

“William Shakespeare’s beloved A Midsummer Night’s Dream introduces us to a group of lovers, a patch of mechanicals, and a gaggle of fairies who all inhabit the woods for one magical and mischievous evening.  Hermia’s father Egeus has made plans for her to marry Demetrius, but she loves only Lysander. Therefore, she flees from her family to elope with Lysander. Demetrius follows her as does Helena – a friend of Hermia’s who is in love with Demetrius. Oberon and Titania – leaders of two groups of fairies – are at odds this same evening.

Oberon enlists his bumbling fairy servant, Puck, to make a bit of midsummer mischief against Titania and the lovers. A group of amateur actors also gather in the woods to rehearse a play to be performed at Duke Theseus’ wedding and cross Puck’s path. One of the players, Bottom, finds himself the butt of Puck’s joke quite literally as he is turned into a donkey. Titania is enchanted to love the donkey, the two young loverboys are enchanted to love only Helena, and Puck and his cronies enjoy quite a spectacle!

Will the fairies be able to undo their knavish mistakes?”

Join us this Sunday, May 14th at 6PM, enjoy a delicious $10 dinner of duck wings over polenta courtesy of The Manship, and carry on the tradition of “Shakespeare in the Park” with your family and loved ones within the gates of Belhaven Park in Greater Belhaven.

Welcome to the new digital home of the Greater Belhaven Foundation!

Welcome! I’m so happy that you have found your way to the new website for the Greater Belhaven Foundation.

Whether you are a long-time resident of Belhaven or whether this is the first time you’ve ever heard of the neighborhood, your presence here is most welcome. We hope that this website will serve the needs of many as we work to fulfill our mission: to protect, preserve and revitalize all that endears us to this very special place.

The Next Step for the Greater Belhaven Foundation

As many of you know, the founding director of the Greater Belhaven Foundation (GBF) was an outstanding leader named Virgi Lindsay. Virgi retired in late 2016; and as I introduce myself as the current executive director, please know that I do so with a real sense of the big shoes that I have to fill.

Under Virgi’s wing and with the generous support of our board of directors, donors, volunteers, partner organizations and residents, the GBF has become a strong voice for economic vitality, historic preservation, the local business community, and the residents of the Greater Belhaven neighborhood. With your continued support I feel strongly that we have a very bright future ahead, and I am excited to be a part of this journey.

One of my first decisions as the new leader has been to invest the precious resources of the foundation into developing a suite of new digital media communications tools, such as this new website, a new automated email marketing system and our new online neighborhood directory.

With these new tools we will have set in place a system that will allow us to better serve you, our residents and neighbors; to better promote all of the events and happenings in the area; and to help reveal more of what makes this place so unique and vibrant.

Let’s look at how we plan to make it happen:

To Better Serve Our Neighborhood

When a family is looking for a new neighborhood to call home, they often seek out the available amenities nearby such as healthcare, retail, and restaurants. It is our goal to make this process as simple and painless as possible with the creation of our new “Living Here” directory of amenities. We’ve also included a simple process for adding new businesses or organizations to the directory at the bottom of each section.

In addition, we’ve made it easier than ever to find information about our family of Greater Belhaven organizations, the value of living in an historic district  and our neighborhood signature events such as Bright Lights Belhaven Nights and the Arts Series in the Park.

But, no amount of information will have an impact if it is not easily found or shared.

To Make Promotion More Efficient & Effective

We know that the first step toward building an effective website is to make it easily found. Our website has been built with the best Search Engine Optimization techniques in mind. Each page is designed to be found by a searcher and to be easily navigated to find the information as quickly and simply as possible.

Next, we want to be sure that when someone comes searching, we have exactly the information they are seeking. Our goal is to be the best online resource in the area.

Because of this, we have included an automated event marketing system that is available to all in the area to promote any event that is happening here. To promote your event, you’ll simply enter the information in the event form here, and after approval, the event will be present on our website, equipped with social media sharing buttons, and will be sent out automatically every other week to our large email audience.

Our signature Greater Belhaven events each have a new home on the web in the form of an “evergreen” event page which includes a description of each event, quotes from past attendees, links to necessary forms, and an automated blog feed of any related blog post.

And it is in this new blog where the most power lies.

To Better Tell Our Story

Looking ahead, we see a robust online resource with the best event information, neighborhood news and – most importantly – stories from our neighbors, local business owners, artists, and all of those who make Belhaven truly unique. In the coming months and years, we will use our blog as a powerful tool for promoting our neighborhood, and for helping you to find a wealth of information about all neighborhood happenings. Sign up for email updates today to be sure you are the first to know about everything that is happening in Greater Belhaven!

But, we need your help to make it all happen! By helping us to populate our neighborhood directory, by adding your events to our new event listing and, most importantly, by sharing our stories and information – you’ll help make this the online resource that all who call Greater Belhaven home deserve.

I look forward to serving you this year and in the future. This website launch begins a new chapter in our history – may we all approach it with enthusiasm!

– Laurel Isbister
Executive Director