Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

Ava Mincey pours her heart and soul into lemonade stand and serving others

When life hands 13-year-old Ava Mincey lemons, she makes lemonade and a difference. Ava is an 8th grader at William James Middle School who has already dedicated an impressive amount of her young life to serving others.

When life hands 13-year-old Ava Mincey lemons, she makes lemonade and a difference. Ava is an 8th grader at William James Middle School who has already dedicated an impressive amount of her young life to serving others.

You may have seen her out and about with her extremely popular lemonade stand. Since she founded it in May of 2020 at the age of 11, the stand has raised more than $10,000 for the Alzheimer's Association, a cause she chose in memory of her great grandmother, Daisy, who died from the disease before Ava was born.

But the lemonade stand is just one of the ways Ava is making our community a better place, even at such a young age. I met up with Ava and her mom, Yolanda, to hear more about all she is doing, and I feel confident in saying that her servant's heart and entrepreneurial spirit are sure to make an impact for years to come.

Serving from a young age

According to Yolanda, Ava's love for community service began early. The Mincey family would routinely visit nursing homes as part of their church's regular ministry. And while the family has always participated in a variety of service opportunities, like helping Feed the Boro prepare Thanksgiving meals at Statesboro High, Ava took a particular interest in the nursing home visits.

"Ava loved going," Yolanda said. "She would cry not to leave!"

Yolanda and Anthony Mincey with Dennim, Ava, and Colin (Photo Courtesy Mincey Family)

The family soon started making their own visits outside of the time with their church, as Ava was asking to make trips to the nursing home all on her own. She was good at making connections with the people there, and the Alzheimer's patients and their caregivers struck a chord with her.

When COVID hit and made the usual visits impossible, Ava was determined to continue seeing those residents who had become friends. Her mom remembers her saying that they still needed love and interaction, so they moved to doing distanced porch visits.

In what seems to be a theme in her life, Ava cared enough to find a way to make it happen.

Squeeze Every Memory

Something else that came out of "COVID times" was the thing Ava is most well-known for: Ava's Lemonade Stand. The stand began simply enough, in her front yard, and the goal was also simple: to raise money for the Alzheimer's Association Walk to End Alzheimer's. (Ava is now a captain for the Bulloch County walk.)

She and her dad, Anthony, developed the recipe together, and she had her brothers, Dennim, now 17, and Colin, now 7, serve as her tastetesters. They started with plain and strawberry lemonades, then experimented with other fruits.

Ava with her original front yard stand (Photo Courtesy Mincey Family)

From there, by word of mouth, the stand's popularity grew exponentially. People were asking to order gallons, and business owners were inviting Ava to hold her stand at their shops.

"We originally met Ava and her mom when they came in to shop with us a few years ago," said Renee Thompson, owner of Bleu Blush Boutique. "Ava was so mature with her kind manners and sweet spirit that I was shocked to learn how young she was. We began talking, and she shared about her lemonade stand and the purpose behind it. Immediately I knew I wanted her to come set up at the store one day with us."

Ava and Renee Thompson at Bleu Blush Boutique

"A few weeks later, she came to one of our events and served lemonade while raising money for the Alzheimer’s foundation. I was told multiple times how impressed everyone was by her passion to help others and give back to an organization that is so dear to her," Thompson added. "Since then, she has set up for multiple events with us, and every time it’s extremely inspiring to see someone so young care so deeply for something that she is passionate about."

Ava makes a variety of different and creative fruit-flavored lemonades now, including pineapple, watermelon, and blackberry, all of which are incredibly popular by the glass and by the gallon. (Pineapple is Ava's favorite. And mine, too!)

She has had her stand at community events and festivals, birthday parties, graduation parties, and even at a wedding, which was a particularly special request. The bride's grandmother had passed away from Alzheimer's, so she had Ava set up the stand in her memory at the reception.

"I've made a lot of community friends and a lot of lifelong friends from the stand," Ava said.

In addition to all the money she has raised, Ava's mom noted that the lemonade stand has been an excellent lesson in business, finance, and customer service, something she hopes Ava will carry with her as she grows and achieves even more.

In just over two years of running the stand, Ava has made not only a significant financial impact with her fundraising but also a huge impression on those she has interacted with as partners and customers.

Ava and Yolanda serve customers at a Rolling Monkey event (Photo Courtesy Rolling Monkey)

"I have no doubt that Ava will continue to inspire others, make a difference amongst her peers and others, and be a driving force in finding a way to end Alzheimer’s in memory and honor of her great grandmother," Thompson said.

A servant's heart

While the lemonade stand alone would be enough to impress most, Ava's involvement in our community extends far beyond that. She has a sweet spirit with a quiet humility, but more of her story deserves to be told.

Over the summer, she worked with Chandler Dennard and Darron Burnette to help coordinate our local Caring Closet, which offers supplies for caregivers of Alzheimer's and dementia patients to use. She especially enjoyed talking to caregivers when they came by the closet.

Ava volunteers at a Feed the Boro food drop (Photo Courtesy Mincey Family)

She's also working with Stephen Holland of the Alzheimer's Association in Savannah in hopes of bringing a caregivers' group here to Statesboro. Ava has been personally impacted by the struggles and stresses she has witnessed Alzheimer's caregivers experience, and the existing support group is in Savannah.

Because of the demands of caring for someone with Alzheimer's, Ava saw a need for a caregivers' group here that didn't require travel, so just like that, she's helping to make it happen. The group would provide support, information, and a chance to just get out of the house for caregivers, and Ava will be a part of it.

She's also frequently up at an early hour most teenagers rarely see to serve the community at Feed the Boro food drops. This is something she volunteered to do on her own, and she was so enthusiastic about it that now her whole family is involved.

Because of her gift of connecting with people, Ava loves to work the line, because that's where she gets to meet and interact with the families. She loves being a small part of providing families with food they need to survive and thrive.

"They're so grateful," she said, remembering a recent drop when she connected with a family whose two little ones were asleep in the back, having gotten in line before dawn.

Ava and Yolanda with Coach Hugh Yaughn on a recent volunteer visit to Fostering Bulloch's 7th Mile Farm. Coach Yaughn taught Yolanda at Tattnall County High School. (Photo Courtesy Hugh Yaughn)

Ava also routinely volunteers with Fostering Bulloch and makes visits at Willow Pond, and she's been invited to speak at meetings for civic groups like the Kiwanis Club of Tattnall County, something she loves to do.

Ava speaks at a Kiwanis meeting (Photo Courtesy Mincey Family)

For all her community-minded service, she was even presented with the Prudential Spirit of Community Award in 2021.

Ava's community service "resumé" is longer than that of most adults, but you'll never find her complaining. Instead, you'll probably find her looking for more ways to get involved.

She does all of this, of course, with the help and support of her family. (It was easy for me to see the love and admiration Yolanda has for her daughter, but I could also see where Ava gets that sweet heart and enthusiasm for helping. Her mom!)

A model student, too

Ava hit an out of the park homerun for the WJMS Lady Knights in their softball game against Langston Chapel on August 25 (Photo Courtesy William James Middle School)

At school, Ava plays softball, basketball, soccer, and runs track. In addition, she also serves on her school's news team and is in the Beta Club and Fellowship of Christian Athletes. (While she seems to be good at just about everything, we hear she's an especially awesome softball player and is known to hit 'em out of the park.)

True to form, she also serves as a mentor to younger students, welcoming them to middle school and making them feel more comfortable in their new environment.

"Ava possesses all the traits of what it means to be a Knight: respectful, responsible, and remarkable," WJMS principal Dr. Scott Chapman said. "As a student athlete, she represents our school extremely well in the classroom, hallways, and on the athletic field."

Dream big

Ava's advice for other kids is this: "Dream big. You can achieve your goals if you put your mind to it." She's living proof of that already, and she has even bigger dreams for the future.

One day, she hopes to open a lemonade lounge that will also provide a place of respite for the homeless population, another group that holds a special place in her heart. She wants to offer cots, hot showers, and a safe, welcoming place for them to go.

"I'm trying to get all my ideas together, but that's my dream," Ava said.

"I've told her it'll come, and we'll keep praying on it," mom says. "In the right timing."

But one thing is for certain; Ava Mincey is clear on what she wants.

And what she wants is to help others in any way she can, using her own gifts and talents to make the lives of others better. For that reason, Ava Mincey is not only an awesome daughter, sister, student, athlete, and friend, but also a downright inspirational human being -- to other kids and grown-ups alike.

You can donate to Ava's fundraising efforts directly here, and you can sample some of her famous lemonade this weekend at the Brooklet Peanut Festival. Tell her Grice Connect sent you, and try the pineapple!