NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - Virginia Beach native Pharrell Williams’ Something in the Water music festival was crushed by the COVID-19 pandemic, but his generosity in Hampton Roads is having an even greater impact for people in need.
The music legend has teamed up with World Central Kitchen to help local restaurants provide meals for thousands of people all over the 757.
“He used his leverage to bring a much needed item to our community where people are hurting,” said Pastor Kevin Swann of Ivy Baptist Church in Newport News.
Swann’s church has been feeding hundreds of people a week for a while, but when the pandemic hit, he saw the need skyrocket. He said people who have never needed help before are +seeking a miracle from the church.
“In this season, it’s really spiked into the thousands,” Swann said.
Just as the need was soaring, Williams partnered with World Central Kitchen to give local restaurants the financial resources to prepare meals for people who need a helping hand right now. Community leaders looked to Swann’s church to serve as a distribution site. To supply the food, Swann tapped iconic Hampton restaurants Mango Mangeaux and Bowman’s Soul-N-The Wall to cook up some food good for the soul.
“It means so much,” said Mango Mangeaux co-owner LaKesha Brown-Renfro. “We are a community-based bistro, so when Pastor Swann contacted us to be a part of this, we were just all overjoyed because it extends our reach to be able to help more people.”
“We are servant leaders in the community,” said Bowman’s Soul-N-The Wall owner Randy Bowman. “We, meaning small businesses, we are the heart of the community, and you have to have a heart. You have to be caring, and that’s what we do.”
Every week, Bowman’s Soul-N-The Wall and Mango Mangeaux each prepare 400 meals to be distributed at Ivy Baptish Church. World Central Kitchen told News 3 there are several restaurants and distribution sites across the Hampton Roads region participating, and thanks to Pharrell’s generosity, they are providing 5,000 meals a week to several communities throughout the region.
“It’s great to see a church, restaurants, a music artist, a non-profit organization all in different arenas, coming together for the purposes of helping the community,” said Pastor Swann.