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For Our Youth: Local nonprofit seeks to help inner-city students

Michael Ward
Posted: Thursday, October 3, 2013 12:00 am

For Our Youth: Local nonprofit seeks to help inner-city students

(Courtesy of Dimyka Roberts) Operation Help Founder Preston Byrd (back) is pictured with students at Memphis’ Shannon Elementary last Friday morning. Byrd and Operation Help contributed $2,000 toward the school’s Girls in Pearls mentoring program.

Though he formed Operation Help approximately 10 years ago, Collierville’s Preston Byrd said the last three years have been the nonprofit’s most active.
“I want to have a positive impact on my world around me,” said Byrd, a real estate developer with Horizon Companies.
Byrd founded Operation Help as a way to assist inner-city students.
“Each school has a different focus for their group of kids,” he acknowledged. “Most of the schools are strapped financially. Anything we can do to assist schools with that load is the purpose of Operation Help.
“So often we have kids who are lost and left by the wayside. Over the years, I’ve had my successes. I wanted to create an opportunity to give back.”
Byrd and Operation Help assisted Memphis’ Shannon Elementary School with a $2,000 donation toward Girls in Pearls, a program that features high school girls from across the city tutoring and mentoring students at the school.

“They try to provide as much support to them outside of their home life as possible,” he said of the mentors who participate in the program. “(The money) is going to help them continue the mentoring they do for these girls. I was able to positively impact their world.”
Byrd admitted that many of Operation Help’s activities have flown under the radar for years because he shied away from the attention. “I wasn’t doing it for any exposure,” he noted. “My thing was … I play behind the scenes.”
He has recently decided to work with the Dimyka Roberts Agency, a public relations company, to help spread the word about the organization and its purpose.
Last month, Byrd assisted with a fundraiser for the Houston High School varsity cheer team, which his daughter, Angelica, a freshman at HHS, is a member of.
During the three-day fundraising event, Byrd provided Chick-fil-A chicken biscuits to students free of charge before class. He said “there is a misnomer” that everyone living in the suburbs has money, but that there are children outside of the inner city who often go hungry. “The inner-city kids are important, but we have kids right here under our noses who we can’t forget about either,” he said.
Around Thanksgiving, Operation Hope will be assisting approximately 100 needy families with a turkey giveaway, as well. Most of the nonprofit’s efforts are financial, he added. “It’s almost always financial support,” he noted, adding, “with funding, you can do so many things.” Byrd said he would like to partner with other groups in an effort to help as many area children as possible in the future. “No one person can do it all,” he acknowledged. “These kids will be the leaders of our cities, states and country. (For) those of us who have been blessed enough to achieve some sort of success, (it’s important) to give back to the community. We want to support the kids.”

For more information on Byrd and Operation Help, visit prestonbyrd.wordpress.com.

~Preston Byrd