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USTA Foundation NJTL BHM Spotlight: Family Biz Builder

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February 3, 2021 12:15 PM

By Victoria Chiesa / USTA

While tennis was never an integral part of Peggie Henderson's upbringing in Tunica, Mississippi, she's making sure that the sport is front and center for her hometown's next generation as executive director of the NJTL chapter Family Biz Builder.

The origins of Family Biz Builder trace back to 2014, with Henderson having recently returned to her roots in the area after two decades away. A self-described business manager and entrepreneur, Henderson was compelled to give back to her hometown when she observed that young people were affected by much of what characterized the area in her youth. 

As of the last U.S. Census, Tunica County reported a 28.1 percent rate of "persons in poverty," and median household income of $39,370 (2015-19). In addition, just 16.9 percent of respondents ages 25 and older held a bachelor's degree or higher. (Source)

"Looking at the mindset of the people when I came back, I said, ‘It’s the same, old way. They think the same way,'’" Henderson said. "That’s where the vision of the organization came into play: to develop a growth mindset. In this area, we’ve had a history of low literacy, reading below grade level. When I first got back, the teachers who were coming to work in Tunica County would leave and quit because of behavioral issues of the kids. I said, ‘Well, we really need to work on that.’

"When I came back to Tunica, I said that whatever we do to help Tunica, the character development of our kids had to be involved."

Henderson's community-first approach soon saw her strike up a working relationship with the Tunica National Golf & Tennis Club and the GW Henderson Recreation Center, both of which are county-owned. Shortly after the organization’s founding, Henderson was connected with Geoff Norton of USTA Southern, and section leadership helped FBB establish itself as an NJTL chapter.

“They [at Tunica National] wanted the kids in Tunica County to be involved with golf and tennis, and the character piece of what we wanted to do was also important to them,” she said. “We put together a program with a focus on education in the first hour and tennis in the second hour. I knew nothing about tennis — what they were talking about at that time was all foreign to me — but in my research and studies, I learned that tennis was a great youth development sport.

"Family Biz Builder is a youth development organization, so I said we’d have a great reason to focus on tennis: to introduce our kids to something they’ve never had before, never been introduced to before, that could change their lives. We're dealing with kids who don't have tennis in the home. We're talking tennis, and their parents are talking basketball and football. Since we've gotten in the home, we've been able to show parents that tennis is a good sport."

Read the full story and learn more about Family Biz Builder at the USTA Foundation.

 

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