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From Our House To Yours July/August 2011

302 E Roosevelt Rd; Little Rock, AR


Our House’s kids and teens had a great 5th year of My Picture Perfect Summer. Left: 15-year-old Dante dances at the River Market for his entrepreneurship project.


Fifteen AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associates serve Our House


Our House and HPRP helped residents succeed in permanent homes


Our House named Best Charity in Arkansas Bus passes provide transportation to residents


Resident receives a new outlook on life


Summer thank-yous: UPS, Morgan Stanley, and AT&T


June & July donors

All photos by Amanda Woods, an Our House VISTA, except: page 16

My Picture Perfect

SUMMER 2011 By Mindy Shelby, Children’s Programs Manager and Katy Grennier, Youth Programs Coordinator Five years ago, Our House began My Picture Perfect Summer for at-risk youth in the community, as well as for Our House residents, to give the children the summer camp experience their families cannot afford. Now every summer Our House provides a fun-filled and educational summer program for approximately sixty kids ages 6 to 15, FREE of charge! With the addition of seven AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associates to develop and implement daily curriculum, we successfully provide the youth a variety of experiences that reach out to many demographics. continued on page 6

9-year-old Isaiah photographs his teammates during a trip to the zoo.

My Picture Perfect Summer is filled with two off-site field trips per week and programming that is focused on empowering the whole child through daily session experiences. These programs focus on technology and digital photography, community service, health and physical fitness, cultural enrichment, gardening, Girl Scouts, arts and crafts, music, and entrepreneurship opportunities! Our goal is to provide our youth with as many new experiences as possible throughout the summer, creating new interests and amazing memories. An important part of our goal is achieved by providing each child with a digital camera to record these special memories. As they study how to operate and respect their camera, they not only learn responsibility, but also that someone has invested something of value in them and that they are worth the investment! Each child graduating from My Picture Perfect Summer takes their new skills as well as the digital camera the used to record their memories. The My Picture Perfect Summer children had a great summer making new friendships and sharing their amazing stories through pictures. They finished their summer with a wonderful art show to display their photographs.

Photos! Click to see photos from My Picture Perfect Summer 2011.

2011 Quick Look

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3


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At graduation, 7-year-old Jacovee says goodbye to one of his favorite summer VISTAs, Jenn Croft.

Week 5

Week 6

Week 7


VISTA Robert Carter teaches

Our House kids at First Tee.

Our House welcomes 15 summer associates By Rebecca Scissors, VISTA Leader

During the months of June and July, fifteen AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associates helped improve the lives of children and families at Our House and its partner sites, The First Tee of Central Arkansas and Literary Action of Central Arkansas. The programs in which the Summer Associates participated were as diverse as the associates themselves. My Picture Perfect Summer, a day camp at Our House for low-income youth, is largely facilitated by the Summer Associates. Seven Summer Associates organized and implemented activities, monitored the safety of the children, and worked tirelessly to ensure that all sixty-three youth enjoyed an enriching and exiting summer!


VISTA Nikki Moore sings

with the Little Learners.

In Little Learners Child Development Center, two Summer Associates enhanced the physical activity and arts curriculum for our youngest residents. They worked directly with the preschool children during these two months and also researched and organized educational activities that the Little Learners staff can do with the children year-round. Two other Summer Associates were hard at work in our shelter improving our information-gathering systems and assisting the case management team with resident intakes. They also coordinated special projects such as information sessions for residents who are interested in living in the Family House. This summer Our House was excited to partner with The First Tee of Central Arkansas and Literacy Action of Central Arkansas, two fantastic non-profit organizations dedicated to providing skills to low-income children and families in our community. Each hosted two Summer Associates who expanded the organizations’ programs and increased their capacity to serve their clients. Although the AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associates were only here for two months, the work they accomplished will leave a lasting impact on Our House.


helping formerly homeless families succeed

By Ben Goodwin, Grants Manager

For the past eighteen months, Our House has managed a federal stimulus grant targeted at helping homeless persons transition into permanent housing. Through the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Rehousing (HPRP) grant, Our House has helped 40 families move into their own homes by providing more than $143,000 in assistance with rent, utilities, and deposits. Our HPRP program provided a stepping stone for these families to help ease the difficult move from homelessness to life on their own, with our assistance payments steadily reduced, in order to provide a gradual transition to independence. One family that benefitted from this program was Leah Weathers and her son. They lived at Our House for ten months before moving, with help from our HPRP program, into their own apartment, which was within walking distance of her son’s school and also very near her job. She re-enrolled in college and continues to work on improving her family’s future. Our House’s HPRP program is winding down, with the last assistance payments set for the end of summer. HPRP was a part of the 2009 federal stimulus grant, and it was always intended to be a short-term program. Although the assistance funding will soon end, we have learned a great deal about how to help homeless families succeed after they move out of the shelter, and we are planning to con-tinue providing other types of support to our clients to help them succeed in permanent housing.


Our House named Best Charity in Arkansas The votes are in! The hard work of our volunteers and supporters who, year after year, give their time and respect to working homeless families and individuals has been recognized. Our House has been voted Best Charity in Arkansas as featured in the Arkansas Times Best of Arkansas. We count ourselves fortunate to be part of such a supportive community. Thank you for caring about us. On behalf of the staff and residents of Our House, we send our deepest gratitude. We couldn’t be the best charity without you!

bus passes help residents acquire jobs & medical care By Emily Davis, AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associate Transportation is a huge obstacle to homeless individuals. Our House’s bus pass program provides one-day bus passes (obtained with the help of donations) to residents with specific, pressing needs such as job interviews, medical appointments, or other important destinations. A bus pass helps residents pursue a career goal that, without the bus pass, would be too far away, and it helps them maintain their health and their family’s health. The program plays a vital role for both new and settled residents, helping them transition into healthier, more successful lives and excel in the Our House program. To learn how you can help, e-mail


resident receives a new outlook on life By Emily Davis, AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associate The smile on former resident Charles McCullough’s face is unforgettable. Huge, pearly white, and persistent, it spreads joy to all who meet him. Charles’s unstoppable happiness and beaming teeth are new additions to his life, and he credits both to Our House. After arriving at Our House four months ago, Charles filled his days with challenges, triumphs, and goals, things he had never fought for before. Charles said that coming to the shelter made him discover his own potential for success and Our House’s ability to help him achieve it. In money management classes Charles learned how to handle his money with wisdom and respect, and in the Learning Center he gained valuable computer skills. He received a promotion at UAMS, where he attends to the nutritional needs of roughly 90 people a day. Charles readily admits that life in the shelter was not always easy, but he insists that working with every part of the program is worth the occasional hardship. He advises his fellow struggling residents, “this is your opportunity. Take advantage of it.” With the money he earned at UAMS, Charles was recently able to purchase a new set of teeth, and he hasn’t stopped smiling since.


thanks! UPS Volunteers from UPS generously gave their time to spruce up our campus and assemble new shelving units for the Family House.

Morgan Stanley Smith and Barney Morgan Stanley Smith and Barney recently completed extensive renovations of the Our House playground. They added new mulch and sand and two new play houses, donated outdoor toys, and, most exciting, added two permanent basketball goals. The kids love their new playground!


AT&T Telephone Pioneers AT&T Telephone Pioneers donated $1,000 of diapers to

Little Learners Child Development Center. Eighteen children under age 5 are currently enrolled in our child care, and diapers are always greatly needed.

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June & July Donors Individuals Katrina Alewelt Anonymous Amy & Hamlin Au Christie & Steve Bardwell Aaron Berg Claudia & Andrew Carberry Carolyn & Dan Cashman Jennifer & J.M. Cherry Betty Deere Grace Dixon Travis Farrar Karen & John Flake Tanya D. Giles Linda Hardway Sunny Hawk Frank Hiegel Rebekah & William Hollaway Sarah & Theodore Hood Janet Korenblat

Rachel Kremer Richard Kurten Anne Miller Susan Miller Cathy & Michael Moran Aaron Nichols Nancy & Tad Phillips Chris Schaffhauser Shirley Schuette Sharon Yates Priyenka Thapa Annabelle C. Imber & Henry Tuck Bridget & Andrew Upchurch Amelia & Rev. Donn Walters Jacob Wells Star Williams Hardy Winburn Jodi Woods Lawrence Young

Grant buys new refrigeration for Our House Rhonda Sanders, Executive Director of Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance; State Rep. Darrin Williams; and Georgia Mjartan, Executive Director of Our House

My Picture Perfect Summer 2011 sponsors

Congregations Cathedral of St. Andrew Christ the King Catholic Church Church of the Immaculate Conception Diocese of Little Rock The Jewish Federation of Arkansas Our Lady of Holy Souls Catholic Church St. Anne Catholic Church St. James United Methodist Church St. Luke’s Episcopal Church Women of Christ Episcopal Church Corporations C/M Restoration/Remodeling, Inc. 4square CafÊ & Gifts AT&T Iberiabank Vestcom Grants and Foundations Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance City of Little Rock Heart of Arkansas United Way HUD Pulaski County State of Arkansas Walmart Foundation Organizations Pondexter Chesterfield Campaign

Department of Community Programs

A Breath Away Yoga Studio

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