The Michael J. Yakes Foundation, also known in town as the “MY Foundation” was created in October 21, 2013 when “Mayor Mike”, who was just finishing his 27 years of selfless service to the City of Gulfport and lifetime Gulfport resident Maddy Guenther were reminiscing about their respective time spent at Gulfport Elementary and their concern how the children attending and others in Gulfport could really use some help.
From that concern, and the efforts of two Gulfport residents who truly love our town, the foundation was created and was later granted the non-profit 501 C (3) organization status.
Since then, the foundation has raised money each year and worked hard to find the best ways to help underprivileged children and seniors in our area that need a helping hand.
Many times the foundation directly gives money to help families bridge the gap… from “back to school” supplies, to bunk beds to help make a house feel larger, to paying for after school car or tutoring or summer programs at the YMCA or Gulfport Rec center. These amounts can be as small as $20 or can even be hundreds, but the impact can be significant.
Other times, the Foundation “helps those who are helping others” and donates some of the funds received to organizations such as the Guardian Ad Litem Foundation who helps children who have been displaced from their homes with social, emotional, educational, health and safety issues.
Other examples include giving money to the Gulfport Police Department for their bike safety program for local youths, buying locks and lights to help keep them safe or the “Gulfport Neighbors helping Neighbors” program that helps with yard clean up, home rehabs, and financial support.
The Foundation also found many people in need when Hurricane Irma came through in 2017. They immediately purchased basic foods such as bread, peanut butter, jelly, meat, cheese and organized 10 volunteers to give it out to those who came by the rec center… they were proud to have recorded 200 different groups of people that they were able to help.
Here are a few stories from the Gulfport Gabber of some of the fundraising and how the foundation helps local residents in need.