Hello to all, especially those who sing Stevie Wonder’s version of “Happy Birthday,” which was written in support of the national Dr. Martin Luther King holiday.  

Later this month I will celebrate my 50th birthday. I do not know how this happened. In spirit, I feel as spry as I was in my 30s, but increasingly my back feels like it’s weeks away from collecting Social Security. 

My parents can’t remember where this photo was taken, what the occasion was or who took the photo. It might have been my first birthday, so since I’m wearing a party hat, we’ll go with it.

More than a few friends have asked what I want for this milestone occasion, and while I’m tempted to suggest a date with Idris Elba, honestly, I couldn’t handle it. If he were standing before me, I’d either be so star struck that I’d freeze or so overwhelmed with emotion that I’d run away.

What I want more than anything else is for MLK50: Justice Through Journalism to thrive. In April we turn five, and while the days are long, the years have flown by. Every time we exceed my wildest imaginations, my vision expands.

Thriving looks like hiring more journalists – and more editors to coach them. Thriving means jobs in which each employee can specialize instead of juggling the responsibilities of what could easily be three separate jobs (digital/social media/copy editor Stephanie Wilson, I’m looking at you).

Thriving means a full-time development director, an operations manager, our own office space and eventually, becoming an independent 501(c)3.

Thriving means more investigations, more accountability journalism, more work that prompts policy reform and makes a measurable, tangible impact in the lives of the people we serve.

Thriving means moving far, far away from struggling and past simply surviving.

So yes, I’m using my born day to ask you to support our small but mighty newsroom. Will you give $5, $50 or $500 (or any amount with a five in it) to push the vision closer to reality? Every dollar helps, and now through Dec. 31, any gift you make up to $1,000 will be matched through the national NewsMatch campaign for nonprofit newsrooms.

Our goal is to raise $50,000 by the end of the year. With your help, we’ll get there. Donate today.

Wendi C. Thomas is the founding editor of MLK50: Justice Through Journalism. Contact her at wendicthomas@mlk50.com.

This story is brought to you by MLK50: Justice Through Journalism, a nonprofit newsroom focused on poverty, power and policy in Memphis. Support independent journalism by making a tax-deductible donation today. MLK50 is also supported by these generous donors.

Got a story idea, a tip or feedback? Send an email to info@mlk50.com.