About

Southern Mutual Help Association (SMHA) was founded in 1969 to be an Agent of Change in rural Louisiana.

Its mission is to build strong, healthy and prosperous rural communities, with emphasis on low-wealth families, women, people of color, and on families and communities whose livelihoods are interdependent with the lands and waters.

SMHA and its leadership have been recognized regionally, nationally and internationally, receiving numerous awards for innovation and excellence in community and economic development. Click here to see our awards

SMHA Board Members Helen Vinton Vinton, Representative Sydnie Mae Durand and Overton White view map of SMHA's service areas




















SMHA Board Members Helen Vinton Vinton, Representative Sydnie Mae Durand and Overton White view map of SMHA's service areas



Since its founding, SMHA has pioneered new approaches to challenges facing Louisiana’s rural communities, standing strong against the root causes of poverty, racism, sexism and classism. Its work includes
  • Protecting the environmental assets, agriculture and land of rural communities.
  • Fostering economic development in stressed communities.
  • Developing rural housing and providing homeowner assistance.
  • Assisting fisher businesses and fisher families' work to protect their livelihoods and life work.
  • Developing community capacity to "make change".


Southern Mutual Help Association continues to create new institutions, policies, leadership and learning opportunities, and new wealth in communities while building and leveraging new partnerships. 

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