Celebrating... The Women of Philanthropy in Northwest Arkansas

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We begin our new series on celebrating women in Northwest Arkansas by focusing on some of the amazing "Women in Philanthropy" that do so much for our community day in and day out.  Each of these women display strength in character and have chosen a life of giving back to others.  We are thankful to have representatives join us this week from United Way of Northwest Arkansas, the American Cancer Society, Open Avenues, Saving Grace, and Samaritan Community Center, and recognize that these ladies represent a small snapshot of the MANY phenomenal women making strides in the nonprofit sector locally.

Each have set an incredible standard for nonprofit executive leadership, and are creating lasting legacies here in Northwest Arkansas.  These women all had a commmonality when asked to participate in our new blog series - "as long as the article is about our organizations not focused on ourselves - we are in".  Of course, that just made us want to include them even more, as it is a true representation of their hearts for leading humbly.

So, this week we give you... The Women of Philanthropy!


Holly Sparks Hill, Vice President of Community Impact - United Way of Northwest Arkansas

Tell us about the mission of United Way of NWA, and how it celebrates and supports women in our community...

Our mission is uniting our communities to empower people & improve lives.  The bold goal for United Way of Northwest Arkansas is to provide a pathway for children living in poverty.

United Way invests in many programs in the community that empower women & families. Programs such as Peace at Home Women’s Shelter, NWA Women’s Shelter, Family Network, Single Parent Scholarship Programs of Benton County & NWA, Restoration Ministries, Faith in Action, and many more.

One program United Way operates, the NWA Diaper Bank, directly serves women and parents in our community. Diaper need has become a major issue in today’s world. Research shows that 1 in 3 moms have found themselves struggling to provide diapers for their babies. Some mothers even face the agonizing choice of buying food for their family or diapers for their babies.

The Diaper Bank was established through a 1 million diaper donation from Kimberly Clark. Over 600,000 diapers have been distributed!

We hear you have an event coming up to help with this program.  Can you tell us more details about this?

Each May, United Way of Northwest Arkansas conducts a community wide diaper drive. The drive coincides with Mothers Day week and weekend. Please join us on facebook or on our website, unitedwaynwa.org, to obtain more information.


Jen Wasem,  Senior Market Manager - American Cancer Society

Tell us about the mission of the American Cancer Society...

The American Cancer Society is the nationwide, community-based, voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by preventing cancer, saving lives, and diminishing suffering from cancer, through research, education, advocacy, and service.

How does your work encourage you to embrace being a woman in today's society?

My highest calling calls me Mom and I am thankful to be part of a national non-profit that supports my family with 150 hrs of PTO a year, excellent health & wellness benefits and encourages us to always strive for work/life balance.

What events are coming up that the community can take part in?

Relay for Life of Benton County, Friday, May 29 - Rogers

Relay for Life of Washington County, Saturday, May 30 - Fayetteville

We encourage those interested in our mission to keep up with us on Facebook here.


Allison McElroy, Foundation Director - Open Avenues

What is the mission of Open Avenues?

Open Avenues empowers adults with disabilities by providing employment education, life skills training, and meaningful work.

How does Open Avenues help women succeed and grow?

We provide many opportunities for women in our work place. We are most proud of the advancement of female clients who accomplish goals they set for themselves - some are work goals, some are goals associated with activities of daily living, and some are social goals.

We hear you have some exciting events in May.  Can you tell us about these?

Our 18th Annual Spring Fling Golf Tournament and Luau are May 15-16, and the Honorary Chairs are Laura and John Phillips. Laura is the SVP Omni-Channel Assortments, Walmart Stores, Inc.  If anyone would like additional information about these events, they can email me here.


Stephanie Davis, Life Coach - Saving Grace

Tell us about the mission of Saving Grace...

Saving Grace is a Christ centered, safe harbor offering acceptance, restoration and hope to young women of Northwest Arkansas, preparing them for inter-dependent living.

How does Saving Grace celebrate and inspire the young women you serve?

Our residents are incredibly brave and talented young women who simply need some additional resources. We walk alongside them in life helping them access the resources they already have or have yet to discover to empower them to become the best version of themselves. We provide safe and stable housing, life skill training, mentorship, educational support, personal coaching, and community involvement. Each resident’s journey is so unique and we love to watch our young women come alive in their journeys!

Tell us about some of the exciting things on the horizon for Saving Grace...

We are extremely excited about the launch of our new pilot program. The Chrysalis Scholars Program aims to prepare, equip, and support the efforts of college students with a history of foster care placement. Through this we really hope to see an increase in the retention rate of foster care students in higher education.

Also on April 16, we have our 6th annual Butterflies and Blooms luncheon at John Q. Hammons. We would love to have you join us! Call our office at 479-636-1133 to reserve a seat.


Debbie Rambo, Executive Director - Samaritan Community Center

What is the mission of the Samaritan Community Center?

The mission of the Samaritan Community Center is to be a grace-driven organization that serves the hurting and hungry of Northwest Arkansas through a compassionate community of staff and volunteers. Our vision is to encourage all who enter our doors to find hope and experience positive life change.

How does Samaritan support the women who utilize services?

At the Samaritan Community Center, we take pride in our focus of showing love and respect to the families we serve. The majority of our clients are women, many of them single parents. We love to be able to serve them their meal in our Café rather than require them to go through a serving line. We love that they are given the opportunity to "shop" for their groceries in our Market rather than handing them bags of groceries that we have selected for them. Our social workers and counseling interns focus on empowering them to define and develop healthy relationships, to access resources available to them throughout the community and to take deliberate steps towards financial independence.

What opportunities are ahead that the community can take part in supporting your mission?

Samaritan Garden will be holding its first annual plant sale May 1-2 and May 8-9 from 8:00 am - 1:00 pm. We will be offering a wide variety of organically grown vegetable and flower bedding plants, many of them rare, heirloom varieties. All proceeds will support the Samaritan Garden, which provides fresh, organically grown produce for use in the Samaritan Café and for distribution in the Samaritan Market.

The Samaritan Shop in Springdale will be moving to a new, larger location at 2300 West Sunset in May. The new location has been designed to include a covered, drive through for donation drop-offs. Pickups for furniture donations or business donations can be scheduled by calling 479-751-3440. All donations and sales proceeds are kept local to help support the programs of the Samaritan Community Center. Volunteers are being sought to help with this transition as well as to assist the store on a regular basis.

Last modified onTuesday, 15 March 2016 13:25