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Community

A Region that Puts Love Into Action

Northwest Arkansas is a region gaining wider appeal as people flee larger metros in search of a lower cost of living and a better quality of life.

The appeal of Northwest Arkansas can be derived from the data. For instance, a family making $42,000 in Northwest Arkansas would have to make $100,000 in San Francisco to maintain the same cost of living. And, as a recent study by the Walton Family Foundation points out, "95% of residents reporting being 'very happy' or 'fairly happy' with the region." But what lies outside of the correlations? Let's attempt to get to the heart of the matter.

There is something beyond the dollar signs, something that doesn't show up in surveys, that sets this region apart. A kind of way-of-being or aura around the economic calculus, that emits from those who call this region home. We propose it is this⁠—a strong sense of community⁠—that sets our region apart. An intangible thing, probably best captured and felt in stories like the one below.

"Springdale Community Comes Together To Make Local Girl's Birthday Party Special" - KFSM

The local news shared 150 headlines this week, but this one stuck out and seems to perfectly encapsulate Northwest Arkansas' essence.

Here is the story, as shared by the girl's mom:

"I'm Stephanie, Shamai's mom. We had a birthday party for my daughter this past Saturday and we invited 20 kids to celebrate, but only two showed up. When we saw that our time was running out on our reservation, my family and I decided we'd invite the community. So I posted to Facebook that I still had room for 17 kids to join us to celebrate my daughters birthday and share a great time. Everything was paid, so we wanted to enjoy it.

The response was touching, families started to fill the room! Some couldn't stay, but stopped by to wish Shamai a happy birthday. The gestures of kindness were very sweet. Our community is amazing, and I'm so grateful this happened. We learned a great lesson from this, you find kindness where you least expect it!"

The Most Memorable Moment

Stephanie was kind enough to share a few words with us about her experience.

Q: What particular moments stuck out for you after the community showed up?

A: The most touching moment was when the first family, a mom and her daughter, showed up. They were on their way to see her father who had terminal cancer, and she just stopped to wish Shamai a happy birthday. I cried, because she took some precious time to do that.

Stephanie also informed us that they were so moved by the turn of events that they are now reaching out to local organizations about donating Shamai's birthday presents to less fortunate children in the area.

If that doesn't make your heart melt, we don't know what will.

This is Northwest Arkansas.

Community

An Epilogue to the Inaugural Prologues Storysharing Salon

On Sept. 26, eight humans positively impacting the region came together to share their prologues with the community.

"Stories...protect us from chaos, and maybe that's what we, unblinkered at the end of the 20th century, find ourselves craving. Implicit in the extraordinary revival of storytelling is the possibility that we need stories — that they are a fundamental unit of knowledge, the foundation of memory, essential to the way we make sense of our lives: the beginning, middle and end of our personal and collective trajectories. It is possible that narrative is as important to writing as the human body is to representational painting. We have returned to narrative-in many fields of knowledge-because it is impossible to live without them." - Bill Buford, The New Yorker [Art by Brothers Hilts for David Delgado]

Honoring the Human "Before-Word"

Prologues was designed as a humble effort to use storysharing to learn more about and from our fellow community members, to strengthen community networks, and to give visibility to all the good happening around us while supporting the people who make it all happen.

Often we see impact within our community, but we don't ever get visibility into the context about how that impact came to be. Additionally, as community-builders, rarely do we have the opportunity to reflect on the sometimes very small coincidences or nuances that have led us to becoming part of a much larger vision or our everyday purpose-driven work.

It is our belief that the simple act of storysharing can become a powerful platform for connecting people to one another and to our broader community. To that end, we recently brought together eight leaders catalyzing positive change in our region to share their backstory with the community.

The Setting

Black Apple Crossing made for the perfect unobtrusive backdrop for our first convening of storysharers and listeners. Along with raw brick walls and worn wood floors, the space is spiced by fruit & pepper trails leading to a farm-to-glass cider bar in the back. Our inaugural Prologues started with casual drinks and chat and settled into storysharing. By unspoken understanding we all recognized when we bear witness to a personal story, we are being invited to step into an individual's vulnerability and truth. Not a single guest took that invitation lightly.

Recap video courtesy of John Wayne Pharr

The Epilogue - A Series of Short Reflections

"Re-humanizing humans, an interesting concept...yet this is exactly what Prologues accomplished. Being on the receiving end of the personal truths from the people executing invaluable work within the community I live in, reminded me of how powerful people's voices truly are. 20 images with 19 seconds of narration each was all it took to ensue laughter, joy, tears, and ultimately, understanding." - Jacqueline Perez, Teen Action & Support Center

"If we want to build diverse and inclusive communities, we need to actively procure safe and mindful spaces where a variety of voices and preferences feel free to express and be themselves. The relevance of the prologues, in my opinion, is not in who is speaking, where or for how long, the relevance is in the concept of creating room for these interactions to take place. Like a living library or a work of art, Prologues offers the opportunity to exchange ideas, express ourselves, share the essence of who we are, become vulnerable before a room full of friends, strangers and familiar faces, and grow through that vulnerability.

Our entire community needs spaces for this vulnerability to surface, leaving behind the mask of the "persona" we somehow have become, and go back to the essence of who we are, that place where the differences between us start to dilute. Northwest Arkansas needs this kind of event. Diversity, inclusion, collaboration, empathy, all start with communication and an honest reflection of the difference that exists between the kind of community we say we want to be and who we really are." - Rogelio Garcia-Contreras (Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at University of Arkansas)

"Prologues showcased the breadth of experiences, imagination, and compassion we have in NWA. I was really excited to see an initiative that embraced storytelling and its ability to explore resonances, harmonies, and productive tensions across a wide range of perspectives. In a region like Northwest Arkansas where we are large enough to have diverse range of knowledges and origin stories, and small enough to share them in intimate settings, Prologues has so much potential to build community and mobilize those connections toward mutual growth." - V. Jo Hsu, Assistant Professor of English at University of Arkansas

"Storytelling magically activates our brain and senses in a unique way that we can almost feel what the tellers are feeling. Prologue creates the right setting to learn more about their lives, experiences and challenges. It also gives us permission to be transported to a new place in our imagination." - Daymara Baker, Rockin' Baker

"I wanted to say thanks for last night! It was so beautiful hearing everyone's stories. You curated an amazing cross section of storytellers, and I met so many interesting people and shed more than a few tears. Looking forward to going to all of the future Prologue events!" - Monica Diodati, Bentonville SOUP

"'So, what do you do?' is often the first question we ask new acquaintances. As a community, we rarely get to know each other as full people first. Prologues replaces the age-old question "what do you do" with a deeper conversation about who we are. I believe that true impact ignites in the moments we understand one another as individuals with full stories & full lives. We build community first through building deep individual connections." - Brody Parrish Craig, TWANG

"Being a Prologues storysharer gave me an opportunity to reflect, helping me think about experiences that shaped my journey in life. It was inspiring to hear the walks of life from the other storysharers. The event showcased the diversity that exists right here in the region and was a reminder of all the different paths through this life we might take." - Nelson Peacock, Northwest Arkansas Council

"I was grateful to participate in the inaugural Prologues program, as it gave me a chance to think creatively and to share a part of myself that I, a very new NWA resident, have not yet shared with anyone here. It was a great opportunity to hear the stories of many great leaders in our community, shared in a more informal, low-stakes format that inspired openness and understanding." - Allyson Esposito, NWA Regional Arts Council

"The Prologues was a fantastic event. Hearing these stories was a good reminder of the incredible people we have in Northwest Arkansas, and I think that's something to be proud of." - Blake Binns, Good Advice

We invite you to save the date for the next Prologues storysharing salon, tentatively scheduled for January 16, 2020. RSVP below to stay updated as we organize the next event.

RSVP HERE
Animals

Volunteer with a Local Animal Organization This Weekend

The Walmart Foundation is currently awarding grant dollars to area nonprofits for eligible volunteer hours by community members and associates. Here are some ways you can get involved.

This Week's Featured Projects

Below we've featured some of the upcoming volunteer opportunities that involve supporting animal organizations located in Northwest Arkansas.

Human Society for Animals: Feet for Paws (Rogers, AR)

Thursday, August 15th // Friday, August 16th // Sunday, August 18th

The Humane Society for Animals provides for the welfare of dogs and cats in Benton County through shelter and adoption services, spaying and neutering vouchers, and humane education.

If you care for animals and have a soft spot for dogs, this opportunity is for you. The shelter is looking for a few individuals that are willing to give their dogs some much needed exercise, emotional support, and unconditional love. Cat lovers are welcome too! They can use your talents to interact with their fabulous felines.

In addition, they could use some volunteers for the annual Clear the Shelters Adoption event on Saturday, August 18th. During this event, participating animal shelters waive adoption fees for all pets as part of the nationwide initiative that seeks to help families find and adopt homeless pets. Since 2015, Clear the Shelters has helped 256,688 pets find forever homes.

Learn more and sign up for one of the upcoming volunteer opportunities HERE.

Humane Society of the Ozarks: Dog Handlers (Springdale, AR)

Saturday, August 17th

The Humane Society of the Ozarks promotes the wellbeing of animals in the region through education, advocacy and rescue. Since 1944 their organization has been on the forefront of animal welfare in Northwest Arkansas. They assist other shelters and rescues by taking custody of some of their dogs at times of high census, assist with rescue of abandoned, neglected and abused animals, and they take custody of animals in need of veterinary care.

They are currently looking for volunteers for their next adoption event at Brashears Furniture in Springdale. Volunteers will pick up dogs at DogWatch Doggie Daycare in Fayetteville and bring them to the event where they will hang out with them for a few pawsome hours. They allow the dogs inside and sometimes on the furniture, so expect this to be a very chill and fun volunteer opportunity. Once the event is over, volunteers will return the pups to DogWatch.

Learn more and sign up to volunteer HERE.

Autumns ReRide Youth Ranch: Ranch Maintenance

Saturday, August 17th

Autumn's ReRide Youth Ranch is a nonprofit horse rescue and ranch located in Bentonville. The ranch provides a safe and peaceful environment where broken children, horses and families can find hope and peace within the healing glow of unconditional love freeing them from their troubles and sadness.

Each Saturday, they need help with cleaning stalls, filling water troughs, feeding horses, and other ranch duties. All ages find their special place at the ranch; whether it is caring for horses, working with children, horseback riding, or simply, taking a walk on the property.

Learn more and sign up to volunteer HERE.

During the WalmartGivesNWA campaign, the Walmart Foundation will match volunteer hours by community members or associates equal to $10 in honor of each volunteer hour, up to a maximum total volunteer matching amount of $1,000,000. The campaign ends August 23rd!

If you sign up for an upcoming volunteer opportunity be sure to tag us on social @FindingNWA and use #ImpactNWA!

Community

5 NW Arkansas Stories That Will Brighten Your Day

These local moments evoke all the good feels.

1. Pet Philanthropists: Easton and Paisley

Easton and Paisley recently celebrated their birthday. Instead of requesting gifts, they charged guests $5 to join them on their special day. What did they do with the money? Go on a shopping spree for toys? No. Buy a bunch of candy and ice cream? Nope. The two collected $320 and donated it to the Humane Society for Animals.

The Humane Society for Animals has held over 90,000 animals since it originally opened in 1963. The facility continuously houses a total of around 85 dogs and 20 cats.

2. A Passion for Pedaling

Twice a week, volunteers gather at the Pedal It Forward locations in Bentonville and Rogers to help repair and build bikes for those who can't afford them. This past week, over 100 bikes were distributed to families and a local children's shelter.

Since 2014, the volunteers at Pedal It Forward NWA have worked to distribute over 2,300 bicycles throughout Northwest Arkansas to veterans, kids, and others who can't afford a bike.

3. Filled the Bus

Annually, the United Way of Northwest Arkansas launches the "Fill the Bus" campaign to collect school supplies for local children in need. This year, nearly 500 volunteers came together over two days to fill 10 buses located throughout Northwest Arkansas. The supplies will help send over 35,000 children back to school with the tools they need to succeed.

4. Fresh Veggies Brigade

Pictured above is a collection of fresh vegetables donated by three organizations addressing local food insecurity: Seeds That Feed, Cobblestone Farms, NWA Food Bank, and friends to the Second Street Pantry in Bentonville, AR.

Are you a gardener with an overflow of vegetables? Second Street asks that you consider donating any extras from your garden to their pantry. They would love to be able to distribute them to families in the community. Drop them off on Monday morning or on Tuesdays at your convenience!

The mission of Second Street Pantry Missions, Inc. is to help make a difference in the lives of those experiencing situational or generational poverty by providing food, personal care goods, financial assistance, and education. They offer basic groceries and personal care items, limited financial assistance, and a community meal on Tuesdays at First United Methodist Church in Bentonville, AR.

5. Marshallese Got Talent

Lastly, we have a highlight video from the First Annual Marshallese Got Talent Show at the Jones Center hosted by the Marshallese Educational Initiative. We promise that if nothing else, the first 10-seconds of this video are guaranteed to warm your heart and bring a smile to your face!

Cover photo from the Marshallese Educational Initiative photo album on Facebook

Did you witness a heartwarming moment we missed? Let us know! Send your stories to alicia@findingnwa.com

Education

90 Single Parents Awarded Fall Scholarships | Now Accepting Spring Applications

Founded in 1984, Single Parent Scholarship Fund of Northwest Arkansas (SPSF NWA) creates a network of support that empowers determined single parent families through access to education in Carroll, Madison and Washington County.

The Single Parent Scholarship Fund of NWA (SPSF NWA) is proud to announce traditional scholarship allocation for the Fall 2019 semester. A total of 90 single parents from Carroll, Madison, and Washington counties have been awarded scholarships to create better, brighter futures for their families through higher education. The total value of the fall scholarships is $154,000.

Students can use their scholarship awards to cover personal and educational expenses, allowing them to overcome barriers to pursuing their degree, without having to worry about day-to-day expenses. These scholarship disbursements allow students to focus on achieving success for themselves and their families.

"As the fall semester begins, we are excited that we can offer this opportunity to hard-working, determined single moms and dads," said Executive Director, Tyler B. Clark. "The scholarship was established to offer a hand up to families who want to build a pathway to prosperity by completing their education journey. Helping our graduates secure good jobs with benefits is our ultimate goal," Clark continued.

Since 1984, SPSF NWA has awarded thousands of scholarships worth $6.5 million to 9,500 residents of Carroll, Madison, and Washington counties. The next scholarship deadline to apply for the scholarship is October 15th, for the spring 2020 semester. For a complete list of eligibility requirements, visit www.SingleParentScholarshipFund.org.

Traditional scholarships include Associate's, Bachelor's, and the M.A.T degree program. Full-time students receive $2,000 per scholarship, part-time students receive $1,000 per scholarship and have semester-based deadlines.

SPSF NWA scholarships are funded entirely by community support, which includes grants, donations and fundraising events. A private foundation has funded the organization's administrative costs, which means that community support goes directly toward scholarships and supportive programs which turn poverty into prosperity for low-income single parent headed households.

CONNECT WITH SPSF

Community

Support Survivors: Executive Director Opening at NWA Center for Sexual Assault

The NWA Center for Sexual Assault is a 37-year old nonprofit serving adult survivors of sexual violence and their loved ones - with comprehensive free services - while tirelessly working toward a safer future for all through education and awareness.

Job Description:

The Executive Director is responsible for oversight and management of all aspects of the NWA Center for Sexual Assault operations, in accordance with Center policies and best-practices. This person also works in partnership with the Board of Directors as a steward of the Center's organizational health, strategic plan and mission-driven work.

Primary Qualifications:

  • Commitment and belief in victim advocacy, social justice and the mission of the Center.
  • A demonstrated leadership commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and an understanding of the importance of this commitment for an agency serving sexual assault survivors.
  • Working knowledge of both victim-services and effective, culturally-humble community outreach efforts.
  • A demonstrated leadership commitment to collaborative partnerships, staff development, and staff relations (including an "open-door" approach to leading and a commitment to staff self-care).
A full job description including the application can be found HERE. Applications close on August 12, 2019.

NWA Center for Sexual Assault Services

The Center provides comprehensive services - in English and Spanish - for anyone in Northwest Arkansas who has been affected by rape or sexual assault. These serves include:

  • Forensic Rape Kit Exam Services. They offer free forensic rape kit exams in a compassionate, non-hospital setting. Rape kit exams gather DNA and other evidence from the survivor's body and can be performed any time within 96 hours of a rape or sexual assault. They have forensic exam clinics in both Washington and Benton counties and they utilize only trained Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners. In addition to collecting evidence, their nurses offer preventative antibiotics for sexually transmitted infections. For more info, visit HERE.
  • Individual Advocacy. Compassionate support, referrals and resources for the survivor and/or their loved ones to assist through every step of the healing process: from reporting to exam to court process - if the survivors chooses to report - or in whatever way the survivor needs support.
  • Therapeutic Counseling. In-depth talk therapy to assist survivors and/or their loved ones in exploring their long term healing needs. The Center provides individual, couples and family therapy for anyone dealing with the emotional impact of sexual violence, no matter when it occurred.
  • Support Groups. Their support groups give sexual assault survivors a safe place to find strength and healing in the company of other survivors. Groups meet weekly at the Center. In addition to the in-house support groups, they can come to your agency, organization or institution to provide support and educational groups for your clients who may be survivors.
  • 24-Hour Crisis Help Line. Crisis intervention, referral information and emotional support to anyone dealing with the aftermath of rape and sexual assault.

Impact Snapshot:

Other Ways to Get Involved:

For more information vist nwasexualassault.org

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