Giving Back: Multi-National Ministries

Giving Back: Multi-National Ministries

Multi-National Ministries has served the refugee and immigrant communities in Memphis since its founding in 1991, showing kindness in ways that help those individuals feel more accepted while understanding local cultures and achieving academic success, all built on the foundation of God’s love. That word “love” is important for the work Multi-National Ministries does to help refugees and immigrants transition to life in Memphis. It’s all centered on an educated-based mission because most of what the organization does is help younger children. Executive Director Laurie Graves is quick to stress that the organization is built on the kindness of the community.


“Caring for folks around you doesn’t have to be political. It’s a humanity thing,” she said. “We feel the best thing for our city is for everybody to be well-educated, accepted and upstanding citizens. You can be at Multi-National Ministries and see dozens of different cultures and four different religions, and there are no tensions.”


Programs begin on Monday with a focus on reading, first with children’s literacy-based activities in the afternoon followed by an evening session that matches volunteers with children. That program helps participants from Pre-K through fourth grade with limited English-speaking abilities improve their reading and English skills. Many of the elementary-aged children don’t have English-speaking parents at home, so on Tuesdays and Thursdays they can get homework assistance for a couple of hours after school. And on Wednesdays, elementary-aged students can participate in Wednesday T.A.R.G.E.T. Kids, an after-school opportunity to participate in various crafts and activities to help them “live life on target.” T.A.R.G.E.T. stands for Tell the Truth, Accept Responsibility, Respect yourself and others, Good Neighbor, Everybody plays fair and Take care of each other.


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But not all activities are targeted to younger children. MNM Youth Group on Monday and Wednesday evenings is targeted to middle and high school students. And English for Moms & Preschool Readiness is a time on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings for moms to participate in English classes while their young children participate in preschool readiness activities. “It’s huge, nearly 70 women who come with their children participate,” Graves said. “It provides them with a women’s support group. English is the common language and it’s a very sweet time.”


Multi-National Ministries works hard to keep a good student-volunteer ratio. Ideally that means one leader for every two to four kids. And that means a heavy dependence on volunteers, something Graves calls guilt-free volunteers. “We love folks to come as regularly as you can but if you can’t that’s fine,” she said. Individual and group volunteers are welcome.


Multi-National Ministries serves around 700 people per year, and it takes contributions from individuals, churches, foundations and companies to make that work happen. Many programs occur at the organization’s location on North Mclean Boulevard but it also has satellite programs at various schools, which all take funds to support. The more money the organization raises, the more schools it can house English as Second Language classes in. If you’re interested in volunteering your time or donating money to Multi-National Ministries, please visit


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