From Our Step

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Curtis…surrounded by A Community Without Need

We don’t get to post many stories from the Our Step program. If you know anything about the program, then you know that most of our friends that enter the program are dealing with issues of domestic violence and  we try to be as sensitive as possible during these times.

Our latest candidate, Curtis entered the program 4 months ago (if you haven’t heard his story I recommend you watch his video). Curtis is currently an employee of the Samaritan Community Center (SAMCC) and was on the verge of becoming homeless.  His co-workers began to spend time with him, heard his story and were moved into action.  They soon realized the unbelievable potential and heart that this man has.  They rallied behind him and invested time into learning the process behind the Our Step Program & helped him fill out his application. By the time he had filled out an application, we had 3 or 4 different co-workers call and recommend Curtis for the program. As soon as I met him, I realized why. Curtis has one of the most humble spirits I have ever encountered in my life. He was soft spoken, but continued to be extremely kind and grateful.

With any situation, we encountered a few bumps in the road. However, throughout his time in the program, Curtis showed tremendous initiative and responsibility. He wanted to pay back past debts, save his money and was determined to build a support community. SAMCC was able to give Curtis a new vehicle, which has helped him get to and from work and cut his previous transportation costs. Before we knew it, Curtis graduated from the program, started a savings account and is working on rebuilding his relationship with his son.

It is with this story that I am constantly reminded of the importance of relational support. Curtis is where he is today, because of the people in his life. He would tell you that the love and encouragement he gets day in and day out pushes him to make the positive decisions he is making. People like Nancy Seward, Tosh Pearson & Debbie Rambo who continually pour themselves out for others, like Curtis are the true heroes. He is currently attending a church in Bentonville, and goes every week with a few friends from SAMCC. He is building community, and with that community comes the relational support to help him succeed.

We can put people into housing, and give them the services they need. But, we are learning that true life change is created with a support structure of community. We are in the process of creating opportunities to engage in this initiative. If you are interested, or have comments, please email


Horvath Riner Interview 056

Homeless Students in Fayetteville Public Schools

This past week we had the pleasure of having Mark Horvath, founder of, come back to Northwest Arkansas for a short visit.  Mark first visited NW Arkansas in 2009 to share his story at 1,287 Stand Up & Be Counted Homeless Awareness Rally.

Mark had an opportunity to sit down with Marian Riner, Families in Transition Coordinator for the Fayetteville Public Schools, to talk with her about how the Fayetteville Public Schools are caring for students in their school district who are homeless.

Full blog post: Homeless Kids in Public Schools: Interview with Marian Riner, School Social Worker

For more information on how you can help homeless families in our community, please your school’s homeless services coordinator (believe it or not, every school has one).


..the Our Step program has been quietly moving forward over the past year, and this month we have the unique privilege of being able to share publicly Curtis’s story of hope.

Curtis is the 7th Our Step candidate to enter the program & it is a true honor to come alongside him during this season of his life to watch his story of hope come to life.  Curtis now has a job at the Samaritan Thrift Shop, a place to call home through Our Step, and most importantly a new outlook on life.

Our Step is a collaborative housing initiative started by Seven Hills Homeless Shelter, Northwest Arkansas Women’s Shelter, Samaritan Community Center, the University of Arkansas Community & Family Institute and the Cobblestone Project to provide people and families a point for breaking the cycle of homelessness and domestic violence by eliminating the initial costs to secure affordable housing.

For more information on the Our Step program, please visit the Our Step initiative page for more information.  If you would like to become involved in assisting current or future Our Step families, please send an email to  You may also donate to help more people like Curtis once again gain independence, security, and dignity.

NWA PIT Homeless Census 2011

NW Arkansas Point-in-Time Homeless Census Final Report

On Monday, the Community and Family Institute is located in the University of Arkansasʼ Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice released the final Northwest Arkansas Point-in-Time Homeless Census Report.

We would ask everyone in Northwest Arkansas take the time to read the final & full report as this may be one of our greatest tools in serving those who are homeless in Northwest Arkansas.

You can download the report by following this link

Northwest Arkansas Point-in-Time Homeless Census 2011 Report

Summary of 2011 Point-in-Time Census

  • Numbers. It is estimated that on any given night approximately 2,001 adults and youth in Benton and Washington Counties are homeless.
  • Basic demographics 437 adults were interviewed for the 2011 Point-in-Time Census. The median age of respondents was 40 years. About two-thirds of the sample, (63%) was between the ages of 25 and 54. Men comprised 58 percent of the survey respondents. Eighty-one percent of respondents were Caucasian/White, 7 percent were African-American/Black, with the remaining 12 percent comprised of other racial and ethnic categories; 7.8 percent of respondents were Hispanic.
  • Housing status. While approximately 1 percent of respondents were actually interviewed on the street, interviews conducted in local soup kitchens, day centers and food banks revealed that 8 percent of homeless adults spent the previous night on the streets. The most common living situations included doubling up/staying with a friend or relative (26%),treatment facilities (20%), and transitional housing (17%).
  • Family structure. Sixty-three percent of homeless persons were single adults. Of those in families, 7 percent were couples without children, 11 percent were couples with children, 16 percent were one parent families with children, and 2.5 percent were in some other family arrangement.
  • Time spent homeless. The median time spent homeless was 5 months. Seventy-three percent reported that this was their first time being homeless in the last three years. More than one-quarter of those interviewed reported a second or third homeless episode in the last three years.
  • Services used and service gaps. The most frequently received services were food assistance (72%), medication assistance (32%), substance abuse treatment (32%), clothing assistance (46%), case management (43%), and transportation assistance (27%).
  • Regarding service gaps, the services most commonly needed, but not currently being received were: job training and assistance (24%), housing placement assistance (26%), transportation assistance (31%), and medication assistance (26%).
  • Chronic homelessness. Twenty-seven percent of respondents were chronically homeless. Of the number of respondents who said they suffered from at least one chronic condition, 44 percent classified themselves as chronic substance abusers, 28 percent reported having a mental illness, 27 percent reported a physical disability, 14 percent were domestic violence victims, and 9 percent had a developmental disability. Of the total number of homeless persons interviewed, more than 20 percent reported two or more of these conditions.
  • Military service. Twenty-five percent of homeless adults reported prior service in the military; nearly 30 percent of those veterans saw active combat. The majority of these homeless veterans were older, single males.
  • Prevalence. Overall, the number of homeless persons in Benton and Washington Counties increased 36 percent between 2009 and 201, from 1,287 to 2,001. The number of homeless youth increased by more than 39 percent.
  • Age. The median age of homeless adults was similar 41 (2009) and 40 (2011), with notable jumps in the numbers of persons age 55 and older.
  • Race/Ethnicity. The racial composition was very similar to that recorded in 2009 though the diversity was less than in 2009. The number of Hispanic adults dropped slightly between 2009-2011.
  • Housing status. The percentage of people making use of emergency shelter continued to decline from 37 percent in 2007 to 20 percent in 2009 and 14 percent in 2011. At the same time, there was a substantial increase in those reporting doubling up from 18 percent in 2009 to 26 percent in 2011.
  • Family structure. In the 2-year period from 2009 to 2011, there was an increase in the percentage of homeless adults who reported being single without children, from 57 percent to 64 percent.
  • Frequency and duration of homeless episodes. There was a 48 percent decline in the average number of homeless episodes in the previous 3-year period among adults, from 2.5 in 2007 to 1.3 in 2009. That number changed only slightly in 2011 (1.4). However, the median length of
    homelessness remained the same as in 2009–5 months.
  • Service gap. Significant gains were made in narrowing the service delivery gap in a number of areas. The percentage of respondents who reported using case management services in 2009 nearly doubled to those using it in 2011. Likewise, those receiving medical treatment in 2009 (17%) doubled in 2011 (35%). The service delivery gap continued to be significant in 2011 as it was in 2009 for job training, medication, and transportation assistance.
  • Chronic homelessness. The rate of chronic homelessness among adults declined from 32 percent in 2009 to 27 percent in 2011.
  • Chronic conditions. There were only minor changes in chronic conditions reported between persons reporting such condition in 2009 compared to 2011. Over 40% continued reporting substance abuse problems, and more than one-quarter reported problems with a physical or mental disability.
  • Homeless veterans. The percentage of adult homeless who reported prior military services jumped increased slightly from 24 to 25 percent between 2009 and 2011.

For more information on the University of Arkansas Community and Family Institute, please visit their website at

For more information on how you can help serve the homeless people in Northwest Arkansas, you can serve with Seven Hills Homeless Center, Samaritan Community Center, Lifesource, NW Arkansas Women’s Shelter or at Laundry Love Project’s throughout NW Arkansas.


Cobblestone Project

January Cobblestone Project Update


The Farm

The 2011 season for The Farm is underway!

It is hard to believe the opportunities that have presented themselves over the past few months and we are truly excited about what is ahead.

We are excited to announce that the Cobblestone Project Farm is moving to FayettevilleNew Heights Church in Fayetteville has graciously donated the use of 10 acres of their land in West Fayetteville to be the new home of the farm.


This move will greatly expand the scope of The Farm to include:  expanded food production capacity, work share programs to create commerce & jobs, agricultural education partnerships & a large increas

e in the ability to serve the under-resourced all over NW Arkansas.  We are extremely grateful to the people of New Heights Church for their vision.  We could not dream this big without your vision, and we are looking forward to this new partnership.

There will be a Farm volunteer information & orientation luncheon on Saturday, February 19th from 10 am to 12 pm in Fayetteville (lunch will be provided).  Please register to attend (location information on Volunteer Hub).

Opportunities to volunteer at The Farm will start in March, and those dates will be available soon.  We would ask that you consider attending on Feb 19th as it will provide a broad overview of production plans and volunteer roles.



This past year we were incredible blessed by a member of the community who graciously helped start the D.C. initiative.  As a result, the back of house engine that is needed to support many of the Cobblestone Project initiatives was able to drive so many things behind the scenes.  This includes a home for 3 Bags in

2 Day, support for the 5 Our Step families that were placed in homes this past year, Laundry Love prep & staging as well as some of our Green Rooms and gatherings.  As a result of the DC, we have seen a new level of capabilities and effectiveness throughout all of our initiatives.


So, in order to fully support the continued development of the various initiatives, the DC will be following the Farm to Fayetteville.  It will be located very close to the Farm site and be able to serve in a new capacity of processing the harvest, cold storage, etc.

The new D.C. will take a lot of effort to get it up to the level we need to support our requirements, so there are some electrical, plumbing and cleaning needs if any groups are able to help.  Given a little elbow grease, the DC will be a perfect new home.

If you would like to help with bringing the D.C. up to speed, please send an email to or watch the Volunteer Hub for staged volunteer days.


!dea Camp: Orphan Care

We are pleased to be a supporting organization bringing The Idea Camp to Northwest Arkansas.

The Idea Camp is a collaborative movement of idea-makers who facilitate hybrid conferences and develop resources for people who desire to move ideas towards implementation. Facilitated by a growing collective of innovative thinkers and practitioners from numerous disciplines, participants gather around topics of interest to encourage & inspire one another, share practical wisdom from the field, and develop viable networks for idea-making.


The upcoming Idea Camp (Feb 25th & 26th in NW Arkansas) is focusing on the subject of Orphan Care. It will facilitate fresh, honest and transformative conversations with leading thinkers and practitioners on topics including US & International care, community development, trafficking of orphans, adoption, foster care, child sponsorship, HIV/AIDS, special needs, cross-cultural & religious dynamics to care, and many more. The desire is to live life as God’s loving expressions of grace and hope to our world through tangible acts of care for orphans.

There will be balance conversation between Int

ernationl & US needs for orphans, foster care, mentoring and preventive care.  In fact, many local NW Arkansas organizations will be presenting include 99 Balloon, The C.A.L.L, NW Arkansas Women’s Shelter, Keypoint Church, Titus Task, Potter’s House, Central United Methodist Church, Cobblestone Project and Mike & Susan Duke will be sharing their experience as Child Advocates.

For more information, and to register, visit



In Closing

Thank you to everyone that gives unceasingly to serve our community.  You are the heroes & we could not be more grateful to live in a community like NW Arkansas

Take Care,

The Cobblestone Project

“Aggressively Pursuing a Community Without Need”


Click to Download Cobblestone Project January 2011

click document icon to download a printable version of the Cobblestone Project January 2011 Update

Don’s story

On behalf of the many people & organizations that have made this possible, it is with great joy that we share Don’s story from hopelessness to hope.

Don’s story still has many roads left to walk that will not be easy; however, he can now take that “next step” with a roof over his head and a community in support.

Our Step is a collaborative partnership with the University of Arkansas Community & Family Institute, Seven Hills Homeless Center, Samaritan Community Center, NW Arkansas Women’s shelter, the Cobblestone Project and the NW Arkansas community.

The Our Step initiative came to life out of the story of 1,287 in June 2009 & the visit of Mark Horvath, founder of, to NW Arkansas.  We are forever grateful.

This story was made possible by the tireless efforts of so many and funding from the University of Arkansas Community & Family Institute and the United Way of NW Arkansas.

The Our Step initiative receives no federal or government funding & is only made possible because of the generous hearts of our community to understand needs and meet those needs in a way that works towards solutions.  You can be a part of the future stories to be told by donating household items, preparing meals, fulfilling the needs of those placed into the program once they move into permanent housing or by financial donations.

There are many more people in NW Arkansas with stories just like Don’s, and through efforts like these we can bring them home.

Thank you to our incredible community!

Our Step Christmas Challenge results & update…

In December, one NW Arkansas family issued our community to a Christmas Challenge to raise support, awareness and money for the Our Step program.

If you missed their original posting & the challenge, here is a link to the video

“Our Step Christmas Challenge”

The results are in and we have some exiciting news to share about what your efforts have already accomplished!

We hope to share the first Our Step story on March 14th at a special gathering of the Cobblestone Project “Present in the City“.  All are welcome, there is no cost and it promises to be an incredible evening among community

What is Our Step?

Our Step is a collaborative housing initiative started by Seven Hills Homeless Shelter, Northwest Arkansas Women’s Shelter, Samaritan Community Center and the Cobblestone Project to provide people and families assistance in breaking the cycle of homelessness and domestic violence by eliminating the initial costs to secure affordable housing.

For more information…

  • Visit the Our Step initiative page
  • Send an email to

Thanks you so much!


Matt Miller Exclusive Art Showcase benefiting Our Step initiative

With winter weather upon NW Arkansas, the need for shelter and housing is in the spotlight.

The Our Step Housing Initiative has been the receipient of so much incredible energy as the Christmas Matching Gift final results are coming in shortly. 

We are happy to have more help to add to the momentum as the Our Step initiative will be the recipient of proceeds from Matt Miller‘s exclusive showcase on Jan 20th.

Matt is showcased in the January issue of CitiScapes Magazine and his work is loved by so many people both within our community and across the US.  We are so appreciative to Matt and the team at CitiScapes for their support and encouragement to serve NW Arkansas.

It will be a special evening, so come and enjoy an evening filled with incredible art while you meet some new friends.

Event Information:

On Wednesay January 20, Ruth’s Chris Wednesday will feature Matt Miller, local artist known for his bold color palate and curiously faceted lines that shape his portrayal of music legends, abstract silhouettes and experimental works.

Whether you’re looking to build your collection, expand your artistic horizon or meet Matt and mingle over amazing cocktails and appetizers, this will be a cultural Northwest Arkansas event you will want to mark on your calendar!

A charitable donation of 15% of all artwork and lounge sales will be donated to the Our Step initiative, a collaborative housing project with the Cobblestone Project and agencies such as Seven Hills homeless shelter, Samaritan Community Center, and NW Arkansas Women’s Shelter.

Complimentary light hors d’ oeuvres will be passed from 5:30-6:30.

Our Step Christmas Challenge

We are excited & thankful to one NW Arkansas family that is issuing a Christmas Challenge to help support the Our Step program and provide homes for those without.

What is Our Step?

Our Step is a collaborative housing initiative started by Seven Hills Homeless Shelter, Northwest Arkansas Women’s Shelter, Samaritan Community Center and the Cobblestone Project to provide people and families assistance in breaking the cycle of homelessness and domestic violence by eliminating the initial costs to secure affordable housing.

What is challenge?  Watch their story & find out how you can help.

Here’s how it works…

  • For every dollar donated to the Our Step program (up to $10,000) and matching amount will be donated.  For example, if you donate $50, a matching $50 will be donated for a total of $100.
  • If the full challenge is met, a total of $20,000 would be donated to the Our Step program.
    • $20,000 would provide funding to place a minimum of approx. 20 people (individuals & families w/children) into affordable housing.
  • Challenge ends on Dec 31, 2009.
  • There are two ways to participate financially in this challenge
  • On January 1st, we will announce the total amount raised in this challenge.

For more information…

  • Visit the Our Step initiative page
  • Send an email to

Thanks so much and off we go…