Pine Belt Foundation hosts annual Faces of the Foundation awards ceremony

Pine Belt Foundation provides honors
Published: Mar. 2, 2023 at 12:57 AM CST
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PINE BELT, Miss. (WDAM) -The Pine Belt Foundation had a historic year in 2022, distributing $5,718,000 to the community in areas such as arts, education, health, human services, religion and scholarship.

To celebrate these achievements, the foundation hosted Wednesday its annual Faces of the Foundation awards ceremony .

“It was our 25th year and in that 25th year we gave away our 25th million dollar as an organization, which was great,” Pine Belt Foundation Executive Director Michael Dixon said. “We also crossed the $25 million mark as an organization on behalf of the community,”

According to Dixon, last year the foundation was able to be a part of the Hattiesburg Half Marathon, which raised more than $400,000 in four years and increased tutoring programs in the Pine Belt.

To honor the accomplishments and highlight the people behind them, the ceremony gave out three awards including the Face of the Foundation Award to Kent Oliver who started the comedy show, Laughs 4 Life.

“When I first encountered my battle with cancer, laughter was something that escaped us,” Oliver said. “My wife and my two girls mean so much to me. But we had this conversation about we need to smile more, so that’s really what the event Laughs 4 Life is all about.”

Oliver’s show is now in it’s seventh year and has brought numerous people from around the state to the Hub City.

Moving from the stage to the law enforcement, the Forrest County’s Sheriff’s Office took home an award for its philanthropic contributions to the community with events like the “Shop with the Cop.”

“We had to find an avenue to do it, and the first thing that came to mind was the Pine Belt Foundation,” Forrest County Sheriff Charlie Sims said. “All of the wonderful work they have been doing and we knew they were the ones that could help us facilitate what we wanted to do.”

The Pine Belt Foundation also partnered with Marion County School District to manage a $3.5 million scholarship endowment given by Makenzie Scott.

“We were able to set up our own foundation within the Pine Belt Foundation,” Marion County Superintendent Michael Day said. “And we are hoping to give away up to 75 full-ride scholarships to college for our graduating students from the Marion County School District.”

With the help of partners, the foundation’s assets have quintupled in the last five years.

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