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While three Learning Center clients earned GEDs this year, other students face a new obstacle in getting theirs.

In addition to our GED graduates, we have one teen graduating from high school this summer.

A 16-year-old Shelter resident is honored in Washington, D.C. for her achievement in a high school competition.

Two partnerships in Little Learners are helping preschool kids & their parents.

In every issue, see updates on the construction of our new children’s center.

302 E Roosevelt Rd; Little Rock, AR

Our House currently has 54 team members. Meet two of them in this issue.

Support Our House by shopping at My Favorite Thrift Store.

Read about a few of this month’s volunteers & in-kind donors.

What items does Our House need this month?

Look here for one-click access to every issue of our newsletter.

newsletter design & all photos by Amanda Woods, an Our House VISTA, except pg 12, 16, & 17 photos submitted by Alishe’ah © 2012-2013

by Zac Hale, Education & Workforce VISTA

Michelle Allen, Learning Center Manager Amber Hood, Learning Center Summer Institute VISTA

On June 13th, we had the privilege of sharing in the excitement of several Our House clients as they donned their caps and gowns and crossed the Jacksonville High School Auditorium stage to receive their GED diplomas. Together with the students’ families and many Our House staff, we applauded the accomplishments of these incredible individuals who had worked so hard to improve their education and seek a more prosperous future for their family. continued on page 6 The Learning Center teachers who helped the students get their GEDs and Learning Center Manager Michelle Allen were a few of the Our House staff who attended the graduation.

Because Kelly was less than one credit short of her high school diploma, graduating has given her not just a sense of achievement but also a sense of finally completing what she started. Kelly says the Learning Center has given her the support she needed to accomplish her goal & has reignited in her a love of learning. Her driving inspiration has been her daughter, Kaylan, because Kelly loves watching Kaylan learn & wants to be a good role model for her little girl. Kelly is now working fulltime & will start college in the fall. Her plan is to study social work so that she can be a positive influence in other people’s lives. Her best advice for other clients pursuing this challenging goal is to take one step at a time & remain optimistic.

However, as we cheered on the many students who acquired their GED in Pulaski County this year, my tremendous pride was tinged with a trace of concern; not concern for these graduates, for whom so many doors would now open, but for students inspired by these accomplishments who will face even more obstacles in pursuit of an invaluable education. Though it was a joyous occasion, we couldn’t help but think about the increase in cost and difficulty that will face potential GED graduates in coming years. Acquiring a GED has never been an easy task, and those who decide to pursue their equivalency degree are often burdened with restraints on time and resources that are less common in those working towards a high school diploma. Still, the incredible resilience and dedication of the students in our program has taught me that a true desire to improve your education can inspire amazing accomplishments. In 2014, as the state ceases its GED subsidies, students who wish to better their lives with higher education will face a testing fee in addition to the myriad challenges that already lie in their path.

When BJ started his work in the Learning Center, he tested at a 5th grade level in reading, language, & math. He felt that not completing school would continue to hang over his head until he finally committed to pursuing his GED. Though he admits that it was often difficult to remain consistent & put forth his full effort, Mrs. Reagan pushed him to reach his potential through Our House’s educational program. Thanks to her encouragement and the support of other Our House staff, BJ has finally achieved his goal & can move forward with his future. His advice to other students: If I can do it, you can do it!

The Learning Center at Our House serves over 500 students per year, including our housing program participants, clients of partner organizations, and community members. Through a wonderful partnership with Pulaski County Adult Education, we are able to provide intensive GED prep work and even host practice tests for our clients right here on campus. Our GED success rate has experienced rapid growth over the past year, and as we expand our programming we hope to propel even more students to success in coming months. However, the additional obstacles of computer-only testing, increased math requirements, and administration fees will make it even harder for even our most dedicated clientele to achieve their educational goals. Nevertheless, we remain optimistic. We believe that with the support of our community, the expertise of our staff, and the unrelenting commitment of our students, we can continue to help people pursue a better future for themselves and their families through our GED program.

Melissa came to Our House in November 2010 with her two children and just the clothes on their backs. Since then, Melissa has accomplished many goals she set for herself including obtaining a full-time job working at a drug & alcohol treatment center. Melissa promised herself & her teachers that she would pass the GED test & was proud of herself when she did. photo Melissa’s son Kaleb & granddaughter Kaylie were at graduation to watch her get her diploma.

Kaleb & Zadie take a close look at their mom’s new high school diploma.

Did you know that by donating only $12, you’re providing one hour of adult education and basic workforce training for a Learning Center client? Three great ways you can help create a stronger community by supporting adult education:  Sponsor a student.  Start a scholarship fund.  Donate much needed items like computer paper, reading glasses, and flash drives. Questions? Contact Michelle:

In addition to our GED graduates, Our House had one high school senior in the Family House this year. Marrisee graduated from Central High School, and he begins college at UALR in the fall. Upon graduation, Marrisee also joined the National Guard.

by Amanda Woods, Communications Specialist (VISTA) One of the hardest things to get people to understand is that homeless people are normal people. They have lives and families and friends and school and jobs and are living in the real world with you every day. She may be the co-worker in the cubicle next to yours. He may be the kid who sits next to yours in class. Or she may be our state’s winner of the high school Stock Market Game. Alishe’ah is one of three students on the winning North Little Rock High School West Campus team in the SIFMA Foundation Stock Market Game Capitol Hill Challenge. The team was led by Michael Huels, an economics professor at the school, and was paired with Senator John Boozman for the game. Teams from 669 schools across the U.S. participated in the game this year. Alishe’ah and her teammates placed 1st in the state and 5th nationally.

In June, Alishe’ah went with her teammates and Mr. Huels to Washington, D.C. to be recognized at an awards ceremony. Alishe’ah lives in The Shelter at Our House, but her participation in the game had nothing to do with Our House or homelessness. The Stock Market Game is played every year by high school students across the country. Alishe’ah’s place on the team was part of the typical high school experience, not a special project for homeless kids. Alishe’ah earned her win just like her non-homeless teammates did. It was only after her team won that the Our House staff became aware of her school project and the new need that came with her success. Alishe’ah had no suitable clothes for the meetings with “government officials” planned on the schedule for her Washington, D.C. trip. continued on pg 14

A few donors came with suits, dresses, and other things Alishe’ah would need for the trip. Her teacher Michael Huels donated her plane ticket. Scarlet, a boutique in Little Rock, offered not just one or two items but enough clothes, shoes, and accessories for all of the formal and casual events and activities of Alishe’ah’s trip. The 16-year-old got to spend an afternoon in the boutique with the Scarlet crew and a few Our House staff members. Alishe’ah, a fun and outgoing teenage girl, had the time of her life modeling each outfit and choosing which she would wear during her trip—dresses for formal dinners and meetings; shorts and summer dresses for exploring Washington, D.C. with her teammates; and even something comfy to wear on her first-ever plane ride. The lucky ones who got to witness her shopping trip were entertained as she posed for everyone, danced in front of the mirror, and fell in love with a pair of bright purple shoes. When it came time to choose some jewelry, Alishe’ah suddenly looked a little shy. She softly said, “I don’t want to be greedy.” The Scarlet staff, having fun dressing her up, encouraged her to add some jewelry to her outfits, along with a new bag. After the trip, the clothes were Alishe’ah’s to keep. Some are great for her internship with Our House’s summer youth program, and some will be perfect for interviews as she looks for jobs after high school.

Alishe’ah visits Arkansas Senator John Boozman, her team’s representative for this year’s Stock Market Game.

Alishe’ah was excited to find her name in local & national articles online.

Photo: Alishe’ah leaves Scarlet after her shopping trip. Standing behind Alishe’ah, L-R: Scarlet staff Alexia McCrary, Nicole Daniel, & owner Jeanne Johansson; Our House VISTAs Joy Murrell & Grace Depper

by Mollie Ipsen Child Care Coordinator In Little Learners Child Development Center, we have two amazing partnerships using TIPS (Teaching Parenting Skills ) for Great Kids and Project PLAY (Positive Learning for Arkansas’s Youngest). TIPS helps parents of children ages birth to five years

deal with a number of day-to-day issues, from toilet training to bullying. The goal is for parents and staff to work together to ensure happy, healthy children who are ready for school. Project PLAY is a program to facilitate collaboration between Community Mental Health Centers and early child care programs. Project PLAY matches early childhood and mental health consultants. Their free service offers innovative techniques proven to impact positively the social and emotional development of Arkansas’s preschool children. With these partnerships, our staff and parents have strengthened relationships. When one of our toddlers started biting, I gave the parents the TIPS card on biting. The card helped the mom realize it was a phase most toddlers go through. It made her feel better. When the biting returned, our Project PLAY consultant met with the mom and created a behavior plan. With the help from TIPS and Project PLAY, the toddler has stopped biting and has started using words when frustrated.

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Michelle Barnes Shelter Manager Our House dress $8.99 necklace $15.99 vase $5.99 lamps, pair $21.99

benefitting Our House

Pick-up is available for furniture donations. 501-772-5139

109 N. Van Buren St. Little Rock 501-353-0642

4606 JFK Blvd. North Little Rock 501-246-5741

N605 W. Main St. Jacksonville 501-772-5139

hometown Russellville, Arkansas education Sociology BLA, Hendrix College previous job Assistant Director of Admissions, University of Central Arkansas family husband James Depper Our House staff since June 2012

I have a nickname for my job: I am the Queen of Stuff! My primary function is to solicit, manage, track, & improve the everyday & special in-kind donations that come to Our House in a variety of ways. I am also the main point of contact for the lovely folks that run our three thrift store locations.

The people: staff, clients, meal servers, volunteers, donors, etc. Everyone is united by a common purpose of helping others & bettering ourselves. It is such a motivating & inspiring group of people to be around all day!

I always want to have a career that allows me to work directly with people. We are fascinating creatures!

I was in a punk-rock band for about five minutes in junior high.

I love to read, cook, harvest veggies from a community garden plot that my husband & I rent, walk our dogs, & grocery shop. Seriously, grocery shopping is an event for me, I love it so much.

A marine biologist, despite the fact that deep water terrified me.

hometown Ann Arbor, Michigan previous job Peace Corps Volunteer Our House staff since August 2012

I make the campus as efficient, comfortable, & useful as possible.

My main project is an Energy Retrofit for The Shelter. Our House spends $79,000 a year on its electric bill for this building alone. With a retrofit, this could be reduced considerably. We have one partner, Arkansas Interfaith Power & Light, who will be helping us, but we still need more help to finish the whole project.

I love my job & it changes one’s life completely.

Working with kind & helpful people with similar goals.

I want to run a social entrepreneurial business that would be a combination of a homeless shelter, an eco village, & an art studio.

When you volunteer, you give not only your time but the monetary value of your time. If you volunteered two hours once a week for a year you would be donating the equivalent of $696, saving a charity from having to pay someone to do the task you performed & from diverting staff form other projects.

Keller Williams We would like to thank Keller Williams Realty group of Little Rock for supporting us in May for their RED (Renew, Energize, & Donate) Day of community service. They have been volunteering with us for a few years & each time have truly gone above & beyond the call of duty. They helped us put in a new walkway & helped with landscaping, sorted clothing & food donations, gave care to our little ones in Little Learners, & provided a big barbeque dinner for our families in the Family House. These individuals are so dedicated that they are helping Our House beyond our campus by promoting the use of My Favorite Thrift Store as a way to donate any items that are no longer needed by homeowners & renters.

Vivint On one of the hottest days of the year so far, volunteers from Vivint home security & automation systems worked hard all morning weeding & mulching our children’s playground. They also cooked & grilled a healthy & tasty lunch for our hard-working residents & staff. Others played with our kids in Little Learners & helped organize our donation storage area.

The Miller family Brenda Miller’s grandchildren are spending their summer vacation learning about the importance of helping those in need. Each week they choose an organization & talk about the purpose of the organization & different ways that the children can make an impact. They dedicated an entire week to the homeless & chose Our House as their benefitting organization. The week ended with a trip to our campus where the children asked questions about our mission. They also donated several items for our summer youth program such as pool toys, snacks, bottled water, umbrellas, & chalk.

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Terry Elementary School The teachers of Terry Elementary School in Little Rock cleaned out their classrooms at the end of this school year & donated over $4,000 of teaching & educational materials to the children’s programs at Our House. These materials spanned learning ages from pre-school to 5th grade. Our licensed day care center & after-school programs will find these resources incredibly valuable to building the educational programs we currently have in place on our campus.

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Individuals Sonya & Arthur Anderson Anonymous Charlotte Brunner Miranda Burchfield Baker Nancy Dockter Brooke & Trevor Edwards Sarah Floyd Tanya & Brian Giles Ashley & Joel Gill Jeffrey Hanson Sarah & Theodore Hood Lance King Robin Lake Debbie & Harold Laws Jo & Presley Melton Michael Moore & Mark Rowe Cathy & Michael Moran Evelyn Rose-Jones Chris Schaffhauser Diane & Dennis Smith Anne & David Suitor Bridget & Andrew Upchurch R.A. Walker C. & Y.W.T. Yeung

Congregations Cathedral of St. Andrew Church of the Immaculate Conception Southern Region Conference St. Anne Catholic Church St. James United Methodist Church St. Luke’s Episcopal Church Corporations ARCUPA—HR Government AR Special Nutrition Program Pulaski County Non-Government Grants Heart of Arkansas United Way Organizations Central AR AACN Chapter Girl Scout Troop 6289 Greater LR Legal Support Pros

Capital Donations Judy & Don Adams Martha Alexander Anonymous Brooke & Hunter Bale Sharon Bale Carol Martin Blann Rhonda & Donald Bradley Susan Branon Sharon & John Denery Cynthia East Ellen & Thomas Fennell Barbara Fincher Chris Grace Julie Harris Sunny Hawk Sharon Heflin Ruth Keogh Rebecca & Marcus Kilburn Sherri e& Edwin Klugh Lighthouse Group, LLC Ginanne Long Sallye & Donald Mann National Christian Foundation NWA Pulaski County Ruff Mortuary Service LLC Jessica Dean & Blake Rutherford Billie & Skip Rutherford Amanda & Joseph Scott Karen & Britt Skarda Kent Sorrells Lynda Spencer Summit Bank Elizabeth & William Woodyard

Individuals Toni Agnew Twylla & Drew Alexander Amanda Allison Anonymous Amy & Hamlin Au Patrick Avinger Jr. Debbie Balicki Kenneth Buckner Miranda Burchfield Baker Sue Snow Cooper Ellen & Jack Cotton Carolyn & Max Davis Beverly Foster Glenda & E. Marshall Gazette Tanya & Brian Giles Joseph Hagedorn Marci & Robert Hall Rosemary Hallmark Julia & Lyle Heim Misty Dawn & Joseph Hicks Mary & Andrew Hiegel Karla & Tom Hilburn Jr. Sarah & Theodore Hood Myra & Charles Hyde Anne & J.W. Ivey Lance King Jacqueline Madden Katie McKnight Jo & Presley Melton Marsha & Ronald Meyers Mary Murphy Benjamin Nice Cheryl & James Owens Lisa Owens Sue Pickens

Hannah & Jerrod Pinkston Cheryl Pride Beverly Roberson Evelyn Rose-Jones Chris Schaffhauser Ginny & Robert Shell S.R. & C.K. Simpson Kenda Treadway Jeffrey Trowbridge Annabelle C Imber & Henry Tuck Bridget & Andrew Upchurch Monica Horn & Demetri Vassiliadis Barbara & Robert Vogel Angel & Drew Weber Star Williams Congregations Cathedral of St. Andrew Christ the King Catholic Church Church of the Immaculate Conception Our Lady of Holy Souls Catholic Church South Highland Baptist Church St. Anne Catholic Church St. James United Methodist Church Corporations GE Foundation Jeff Dailey Media Kroger Morgan Stanley Patriot Risk Services Travelers U.S. Pizza Co. Verizon

Government AR Special Nutrition Program DHS—AmeriCorps DHS—ESG HUD: Supportive Housing Pulaski County

Jennifer & Clay Glasgow Carolyn Hamra Stephen Humphries Marvin Itzkowitz Julie & Keith Jacks Susan & Jerry Lamb Lighthouse Group, LLC Non-Government Grants Henry Mariani Dollar General Literacy Fdn. Karen & Terry Masching J.W. Benafield Charitable Foundation Yasmine & Ronald Mathieu Heart of Arkansas United Way Susan & Ronald May Sonya & Mark Murphy Organizations Mrs. & Mr. Sheffield Nelson Sarah Gentry Barry Newcomb Independent Insurance Agents of AR Chris Peterson LR Junior Departmental Mary Carole & Scott Polk North Little Rock School District Pulaski County Gloria Redman Capital Donations Melissa & James Cooper Riley Jr. Acxiom Corp. Mrs. & Mr. Cooper Riley Katharine Watson Allen Jessica Dean & Blake Rutherford Robert Allen Billie & Skip Rutherford Anonymous Louis Schickel Jo & Delaney Bagwell Hatim Smouni Shirley Bell Kent Sorrells Elaine Berg Tappan Land & Water, LLC Gertrude & Wesley Clark UPS Renay & David Dean US Bank Sharon & John Denery Vogel Schwartz Foundation Haskell Dickinson Angel & Drew Weber John Dodson Sr. Jonnie & Kent Westbrook Marilyn & Bo Eagan Mike White Richard Elimon Charles Whiteside III Trish England Elizabeth & William Woodyard

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July 2013  

Our House E-Newsletter July 2013

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