Frontline Responders: Chae Godwin

Updated: Jun. 5, 2022 at 5:23 PM CDT
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MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - An event coordinator at a local grocery is helping to turn the store into a family-oriented place to shop.

You may have noticed Winn Dixie on Highway 39 North is getting more involved in the community by having special events like live music, a car show and vendors outside the store. Well, that’s because their event coordinator, Chae Godwin, has been the driving force of the massive outreach to help military families and breast cancer survivors.

“Well, we’ve always done fundraisers through the registers company-wide. I really wanted to get our local community involved, and the best way to do that is to hold these massive events outside,” said Godwin.

Godwin has been part of Winn Dixie since 2014. But the grocery store held its first special event in 2019 for Caitlin Powell, who later lost her fight against breast cancer.

“The first big event we held was during our Breast Cancer Awareness charity run. The Sollie family was going through a really hard time, and we had an event just for them. It was great for us to be able to spotlight that family during a really terrible time that they were going through,” said Godwin.

Godwin said the Caitlin Powell fundraiser gave birth to the store’s community outreach.

“It really showed us what happens when you reach out to a community and ask for help, and I mean they showed up. It was lined up, and it was huge the outcome of that event. It really sparked me in these future events that I’ve held. It shows what happens when you reach out and you say we need help. The community shows up, and shows out every single time,” said Godwin.

Lauderdale County Sheriff Billy Sollie said he was touched by the outpouring of support for his daughter.

“You know, in my world, we live in tragedy. The event that we’re talking about was a tragic event where our daughter lost her struggle with cancer. But to have a community and have an individual business step out like they’ve done, to try to impact her life and our life was unbelievable. To know that that day they saw what they could do, and they continued that effort throughout our community,” said Sheriff Sollie.

“Everybody knows someone that has either been affected by breast cancer or being affected by someone that’s fallen in the military. You just really want to reach out to these families and really send love to them in some way. That’s what I hope these events do,” said Godwin.

Godwin said her passion to help people dates back to the lessons her parents taught her.

“My parents have always told me to give back whenever I can. Luckily for me, when Winn Dixie and Southeastern Grocers have given me the opportunity to have these crazy ideas and they don’t tell me no. They’re like, yes, go for it. That’s what I love so much about this company. So I’m just going to keep going. Hopefully, the events will get bigger and bigger,” said Godwin.

Through all the fundraisers, the grocery store is able to raise a lot of funds for worthy causes.

“Last year Southeastern Grocers raised over $1.5 million for Folds of Honor and over $300,000 for breast cancer awareness for their Making Strides Campaign,” said Godwin.

Godwin said she will continue to help Winn Dixie to become a place that’s connected to the community in Meridian.

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