Family Biz Builders/Peggie Henderson- Black History Month Highlight
Our next Black History Month features Peggie Henderson of Family Biz Builder NJTL located in Tunica. 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 a median household income of $39,370 (2015-19). In addition, just 16.9 percent of respondents ages 25 and older held a bachelors degree or higher.
"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 earlier this month.
"That’s where the vision of the organization came into play: to develop a growth mindset. We’ve had a history of low literacy and reading below grade level in this area. When I got back, the teachers coming to work in Tunica County would leave and quit because of the kids behavioral issues. I said,
‘Well, we really need to work on that.’
"When I returned 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 build 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, that could change their lives. We're dealing with kids who don't have tennis at 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."
“When I started with the [USTA Foundation’s] A.C.E. curriculum, we learned our kids couldn’t read it; they couldn’t tell you anything about what they had read. Education is not my background, but I got angry. Our kindergarteners went through the school system, and the fourth, fifth, and sixth graders were on the same reading level as the kindergarteners. It really floored me. I said, ‘We can’t sit back. It might not be my background, but I can do something about it."
Henderson's efforts have been recognized with her being awarded as the 2021 USTA Mississippi Community Tennis Association of the Year and the 2022 USTA Southern NJTL of the Year.
"The National Junior Tennis Learning (NJTL) chapter has changed my life and the lives of the families we serve in Tunica, Coahoma, and Desoto Counties in MS."