What keeps high school senior Jay Hedges so devoted to Our House? Cover photo: In cooking class, Jay lifts TaNiasha, one of the smallest kids, so she can see over the bigger kids at the table.
Our Houseâ€&#x;s new Director of Childrenâ€&#x;s Programs gets to know the kids.
For some of our staff, the simple stone path that leads everyone to the Shelter has a special significance.
Our House currently has 52 team members. Meet three of them in this issue.
302 E Roosevelt Rd; Little Rock, AR
Find out how your bird drawing can help homeless kids.
Look here for one-click access to every issue of our newsletter.
newsletter design & all photos by Amanda Woods, an Our House VISTA, © 2010-2012
by Amanda Woods, Communications Specialist (VISTA) Our House is always grateful for all the volunteers we can get, but as a high school student with a busy football schedule, it took some patience for Jay Hedges to find a volunteer opportunity here. Having seen Our House while tagging along with a friend‟s dinner serving group in the spring of 2010, he‟d been caught by Our House‟s positive environment and knew there must be a place for him in it.
With no volunteer work available at that time that would be suitable for a teenager, and with all dinner services already claimed for the year, Jay and his mom became monthly lunch servers for the summer of 2010. Mrs. Hedges continued the lunches when Jay went back to school in the fall.
In January 2011, Jay finally got his opening for the deeper involvement he‟d been wanting. He signed up for his school‟s winter volunteer project at Our House. During the group‟s two weeks at Our House, Volunteer Relations VISTA Amber Hood noticed Jay as an extraordinary volunteer and called him a few months later inviting him to apply for a summer position at Our House as a Pulaski County Public Service Intern. continued on pg 6
Jay has been such a staple in our children‟s program! I know when he is here volunteering because the kids run into my office & say “Mr. Jay is here!” far before he walks into Our Club. Every time he is with the kids he gives them full attention & love, & everyone can see that. More importantly, the kids can feel that. He is a part of our family here, & I couldn‟t ask for a better volunteer & mentor for the kids.
Football Coach Matt Lane led the Little Rock Christian High School group during their annual two-week volunteer project, J-Term. After being noticed as an extraordinary volunteer during this group project, Jay finally found his own place at Our House as a summer intern.
As an intern, Jay worked with My Picture Perfect Summer, Our House‟s program for school-age kids who are currently, formerly, or nearly homeless. After his internship, Jay and his family kept volunteering during the school year. They helped Amber and the other VISTAs prepare gift drive materials, and with the young friends Jay had made during the summer, they decorated the Family House. The little guys were happy when Jay volunteered to spend another summer with them at Our House. “I was enthralled by the kids I met and played with. Then this summer I decided to volunteer around my football schedule.”
Most of Jay‟s memories of the kids are filled with the “continual laughter” that is inevitable in a group of 70 outgoing and energetic 6- to 16-year-olds.
While chaperoning a field trip in 2011, intern Jay helps Janovee learn to ice skate.
However, sprinkled throughout the fun—the field trips and games with little boys and girls who, like every other American kid, just want to have a fun summer break—come sudden instances of revealing reality, reminders of the one difference in these kids‟ lives. “I vividly remember one time when the kids were having trouble focusing and being obedient. Hannah Watson [Summer Youth VISTA] asked the kids to raise their hands and share why they were having trouble on this particular day. „Because so-and-so is being mean‟ or „it‟s too hot outside‟ were the typical answers until one boy responded, „I‟m continued on page 8
Jay began his service here with Coach Matt Lane‟s Little Rock Christian group. I remember Jay making efforts to connect with clients & staff. When other students were chatting amongst themselves, Jay was sitting at Curtis‟s [Shelter Supervisor] desk asking him questions. He was great with the summer program! Jay then spent a little time during his holiday break with the kids. He always remembers all of their names & engages with each one. This summer, Jay has volunteered a lot with the kids, helping where he is needed, especially with the poetry class that I do. He is a huge help & has facilitated two poetry workshops by himself.
Photos: In addition to his own volunteer projects & internship, Jay got his whole family involved at Our House. Mrs. Hedges became a monthly lunch server. Last year Mr. Hedges joined his family to help with the Stocking Stuffers project, & they helped the Family House residents decorate for the winter holidays.
hungry because there isn‟t any food at my house.‟ This was certainly an eye-opening experience, realizing that some of these children are experiencing real pain at home. That is a sad memory but one that‟ll stick with me.”
As the memories stick with Jay, Jay sticks with Our House. He intends to come back to spend a third summer with the kids in 2013 before he starts college that fall. He plans to study International Business or Political Science. “I want to serve the city of Little Rock somehow after college.”
What keeps this teen, already busy with school, sports, and preparing for college, so devoted to the
This summer, we had more young people in our program than ever before. With 70 kids, we needed all hands on deck.
people of Our House? “I love the idea of Our House,” Jay says. “It has a purpose and goal that I believe is an effective way to serve the homeless. Our House has an irresistible atmosphere of growing stronger through community. The kids give me such a great joy through their creativity, enthusiasm, and curiosity. That is why I keep coming back to Our House.”
Jay volunteered so frequently & with such professionalism & reliability that I forgot he was not one of our summer staff. I also cannot believe that he is still in high school! This young man serves with a maturity & depth of character that is unusual for someone of any age. Jay says he wants to serve his community after college. He is already making a tremendous impact on his city & its citizens through his service at Our House.
by Maureen Martin, Director of Children’s Programs If the rest of my time at Our House is anything like the first two weeks, I think I found the perfect job! The following list describes the best (most interesting, inspirational, and profound) experiences I had during my first two weeks as the Director of Children‟s Programs.
Earlier this week I wanted to see how the preschool kids were doing and when I walked into Little Learners Child Development Center, one of the girls grabbed a book and asked me to read it. Of course I would! I sat down on one of the little chairs and before I knew it, I had four kiddos sitting with me. Somehow they all managed to sit on my lap and we read that book and then another. They were sweet and eager to learn! continued on page 12
“ ” A gift from one of Our House‟s kids brought an instant happy spot to Maureen‟s new office.
continued from page 11 I attended the Wild River Country field trip with My Picture Perfect Summer. I had the pleasure of hanging out with three spirited 12-year-old girls for the day. We had a blast! Not only were the water slides exciting, but spending the day with these girls gave me a better appreciation for the summer program and the kids who attend. I received a beautiful canvas painted by one of the children attending the summer program. The canvas has bright colors with flowers and butterflies and is the perfect decoration for my office. What a welcoming and thoughtful gesture from the kids! Meeting the dedicated staff and inspirational residents has definitely been a highlight of my first two weeks. As you already know, all of the staff members who work at Our House are enthusiastic about their jobs, the mission of Our House, and the residents. It is inspiring to see the staff members constantly encourage each other, which then leads to a healthy and positive environment. One of the residents told me that when she came to Our House a year and a half ago with her two kids, she was reading at a 4th grade level. She recently passed two sections of the GED and plans to pass the other two this month. In a year and a half, with the help of the Learning Center, she completed almost 8 grade levels. So impressive and inspirational! After reading over my list, I realize how incredible these events are. I think this list exemplifies the diverse range of services Our House offers its residents. As the Director of Childrenâ€&#x;s Programs, I am looking forward to my new role in growing and enhancing the childrenâ€&#x;s programs and gaining many more stories to share!
Georgia Mjartan There is a little flagstone path leading from the top of the hill down to the Shelter. I remember when Corey built it. He had been a resident, had come up through our job training program, and was now leading a team of VISTA members responsible for campus improvement. Together, they set the concrete, laid the stone, and planted bushes along either side. It is a beautiful, simple little trail. Every night, I watch a dozen or so cars drive up the hill. People just off work unload their vehicles, big pots of food in hand. They walk down that trail to the Shelter where they are going to serve a meal to the homeless. Usually the people who come to live at Our House do not have cars. The ones who do are lucky. Not long ago, ago, I stood at the top of that hill with a mom and her
two little boys as she unpacked their belongings from the van where they had been living. The four-year-old ran up and down the path laughing while his older brother chased him. Last Friday evening, two parents and their two little girls got out of their car. I knew them from church. They were here to serve dinner to our residents. The youngest, Dakota, is three. She loves to talk. “Ms. Georgia, we‟re going to eat here at Our House Shelter but we‟re not allowed to spend the night. Some people get to spend the night but we don‟t.” I could tell there had been a conversation about this on the way to Our House. I asked her mom. continued on page 16
“Oh, Dakota talks about Our House a lot,” her mom explained. “Every night she prays for Our House Shelter and the people who live there.” I asked if that had been mom‟s idea. “No, it was her idea. Dakota is my sweetheart.” Her mom went on to say, “we were at a wishing well the other day, and I gave her a penny to toss in for a wish. She used it to wish her sister wouldn‟t be allergic to dogs since she knows how much her sister wants a dog.” Wanting to give her a chance at a wish for herself Dakota‟s mom gave her another penny. She used her wish on the people who live at Our House. As I gave Dakota a hug and said goodbye, I tried to hide the tears in my eyes. We walked down the path together. At the bottom, the two sisters paused to jump off the end of the path onto the asphalt driveway. They weaved their way through flowers and bushes, jumping from paver to paver to the front of the Shelter. With total openness and love, they sprung through the Shelter door bringing much more than cupcakes and dinner to the homeless people waiting inside.
hometown Little Rock, AR education MSc. Political Communication & Public Affairs, BA English, BA Political Science Family Husband: Dominik Mjartan, SVP Southern Bancorp; Parents: Karen Miller, LCSW & Peter Miller, Lawyer Our House staff since September 6, 2005
I get to be the bridge connecting people in need with people who have the ability & desire to give. This is a bridge that goes both ways. We all have needs. We all have gifts.
Holding a 2-day-old baby in my arms, sitting in the Family House in a room with a mom & her other three children. Mom saying to me, “Miss Georgia, by the time my baby goes to school, I want to be a professional.” Knowing that her dream was possible because of Our House. Watching her change the course of her own life & her children‟s lives & getting to be a part of that generational transformation.
My gratitude list is long. My prayers are very real.
Play soccer (on 4 co-ed teams with my husband), teach at UALR, serve on a couple of boards, teach 2- & 3-year-olds at church, & spend time with friends & family.
I go to the gym every day at 5:30 a.m.
hometown Hanford, CA education Computer Science BS, Philander Smith College family daughter Kamari, 5 community involvement Wesley Chapel UMC choir Our House staff since October 3, 2011
As Our Houseâ€&#x;s Child Care AmeriCorps Member, I implement a structured curriculum & daily schedule for our preschoolers, ages 3 to 5.
The best thing about working at Our House is the great support system. Someone is always there to lend a helping hand or give an encouraging word when life gets rough.
My role models are my grandparents. They taught me what it means to serve & genuinely care for others. They gave me great guidance & were always supportive.
When I was a child I wanted to be many things. First a ballerina, then an astronaut, then a teacher, & last a doctor. I truly believed that I could be anything!
Most people probably donâ€&#x;t know that I am a Hurricane Katrina survivor. I experienced a lot of heartache & pain from that situation, but I rose above it all & continued moving forward.
If I could teach one thing it would be always to treat others as you would want them to treat you. If anyone asks who your neighbor is, respond that it is anyone who is in need.
education currently a Health Sciences major Our House staff since October 3, 2011
I spend most days developing curriculum for the toddler program & spending time with the children while implementing that curriculum, focusing on helping children reach developmental goals appropriate for their age group.
My first day. I had literally inquired about my position only a few hours before my interview. I showed up not really knowing what to expect. I was greeted at the door by excited preschoolers bombarding me with welcoming hugs. I sat in the floor with the children to read a book & share some cookies. When I woke up that morning I thought it was going to be just another day, but I could not have known how much a few hours would change my life forever.
I have met children who have been through more in their young lives than they can understand. This experience has changed how I look at life. I can live without a lot of things that I used to view as necessities & look for ways to help others instead of just myself. When I graduate, I hope to pursue a career where I can help people every day. I had my first job at 14. I worked 12 hours a week at the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission. I remember always trying to dress up like a 1980â€&#x;s secretary wearing a dress suite & heels!
I wanted to be a squirrel like Arthur on The Sword in the Stone.
ACCESS Life & Rotoract These two groups helped with the Songbird Project.
The Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences, & the Arts The school donated beds for the women‟s and men‟s dorms of the Shelter.
Rachel Ferguson, Josh Rowland, Courtney Sallings These three individuals volunteered with Shakespeare in the Shelter.
Bernice Ford Bernice volunteered to conduct a Healthy Relationships program.
CoreSource CoreSource has been helping with child care needs while parents participate in the Healthy Relationships program.
Mary Mayo Mary had a lemonade stand to raise money for Our House.
Promiseland Church The group hosted a family fun night with karaoke in the Shelter.
Shakespeare Project The Shakespeare Project provided new mattresses for our men‟s dorms.
UPS A grant from UPS provided new mattresses for our women and children.
Photo: Brand-new mattresses, still wrapped in plastic, are delivered to each recently-donated bed in the dorm while the residents are at work & school. Some beds, like these, stay close together so a little girl can sleep next to her mother.
The following people answered our call for assistance with our field trips during the final weeks of My Picture Perfect Summer:
Margaret & Michael Bearden Margaret & James Chase Karen & Gerald Delavan Audrey & Don Evans Sue Frueauff Hussman Foundation Carol Leggett Larry Lichty Alyce Parker Nancy & Tad Phillips Tracy Rice
Judith & David Rickard Rogers Photo Archive Lee Schoonover Leslie & Clyde Scott Suzanne & Barry Sims Carol & Phillip Tygart Joan & Brian Wakelyn Barbara Walker-Hare Richard Wassam Kelli Wigginton Mary Wilkins
Individuals Twylla & Drew Alexander Jan Alman Anonymous Donor Katherine & Anthony Austen Betsy Barnes Margaret & Michael Bearden Mrs. & Dr. Bruce Miranda Burchfield Baker Ann Butler Margaret & James Chase Miles Chism Hannah, Oliver, & Addison Crank Karen & Gerald Delavan Eileen & Steven Denne Jami Eaves Edna & Fred Edick Pat & Richard Elimon Audrey & Don Evans Sue Frueauff Judy & Mark Fulton Charlotte & Jim Gadberry Ben Goodwin Diane & Gregory Graham Kristina Gray Ganelle Grimm Julie Harris Frankie Harrison Julia & Lyle Heim Elizabeth Henry Sarah Henry Sarah & Theodore Hood Amanda Hughes Susan Hunter Lou Joyce Lance King Roslyn Knutson Luke Kramer Carol Leggett Larry Lichty
Tiffany & John Lindsey Lynn Luther Derick Malone Stacy & John Mathis Mary Mayo Barbara Graves & Barry McDaniel Linda McFall Becky McKnight Thomas F. Navin M.J. Orellano Alyce Parker David Parker Danette Perry Nancy & Tad Phillips Sydney Rephan Tracy Rice Judith & David Rickard E.L. Ronnel Evelyn Rose Guy Sallis Chris Schaffhauser Lee Schoonover Shirley J. Schuette Leslie & Clyde Scott Carey Sellers Jonathan Shively Dr. Jerry Shue Harryette Shue Suzanne & Barry Sims George & William Smith Jeffrey Trowbridge Annabelle C Imber & Henry Tuck Carol & Phillip Tygart Bridget & Andrew Upchurch Joan & Brian Wakelyn Barbara Walker-Hare Richard Wassam Angel & Drew Weber Jason Whittington
Kelli Wigginton Mary Wilkins Sherrill Wise Jodi Woods Congregations Cathedral of St. Andrew Christ the King Catholic Church Church of the Immaculate Conception Park Hill Christian Church St. Anne Catholic Church St. James United Methodist Church Government AR Special Nutrition Program City of Little Rock: Summer Youth Program DHS—AmeriCorps HUD: Supportive Housing HUD: Transitions Pulaski County
13,978 homeless children in Arkansas sleep on the street, in cars, & in abandoned buildings. Since we don‟t see them, they are easy to forget. To remember each child as a real person, not just a statistic, Our House is collecting 13, 978 unique handmade birds for use in a future project.
Organizations Heart of Arkansas United Way Hussman Foundation
The birds can be drawn with crayons, sketched in pencil, crafted from paper, or any other medium you choose.
Corporations Acxiom Corporation Bank of America Catherine & Company Inc. First Security Heritage Bank Mitchell Williams Pulaski County Title, LLC Rogers Photo Archive UPS U.S. Pizza Company
Each bird must be two-dimensional be no bigger than 8.5 x 11 inches contain no glitter or perishable items All birds can be hand-delivered to Our House‟s volunteer coordinator or mailed to: Our House Attn: Volunteer Coordinator 302 E Roosevelt Rd Little Rock, AR 72206
All of our issues are viewable on issuu.com or by clicking a cover on these two pages. An index of articles from our newsletterâ€&#x;s first year is in the May 2012 issue.
Join our e-mail list to receive our newsletter, event invitations, wish lists, job openings, and volunteer opportunities. www.ourhouseshelter.org