Tagged Community Family Institute

30 Days 4 Change!

April was a whirlwind of a month, and we loved every minute of it!

The students at Bentonville High School who participated in “30 Days 4 Change” did an amazing job.

With the help of Scott Herron, Teacher and Student Advisor, the groups were able to accomplish a tremendous amount for local organizations.

We are excited to announce that winner of the first ever 30 Days for Change & a grant of $1,000 is….LifeSource International.

Congratulations to the student group who made this possible- Kelly Xia, Emily Sellers and Shelby Thompson.

Thanks to Kevin Fitzpatrick, Corrie Rusch, Kim Garret, and Mary Ley for sitting on the judges panel. We are grateful for their commitment to Cobblestone BHS, and caring about the needs of our community. Their participation in this initiative only validated what the students campaigns.

Mary Ley the Executive Director of Communication/PR & Community Partnerships for Bentonville Public Schools, said she had an incredible experience and loved what the students were able to learn. “After yesterday, I went home on  top of the world thinking of what wonderful kids, teachers, and community we live in.”

With the judges expertise and deep roots in our community, they helped make the decision to name LifeSource the winners.

The judging criteria was based on; impact, sustainability, creativity and social innovation.

They felt that the LifeSource group went above and beyond on all of these areas, and created a model that will continue for years to come. They constructed and built 4 raised garden beds on the property of LifeSource Int. Fresh produce is something that will benefit their food pantry and provide healthy meals to the under-resourced in our community.

All of the students did a wonderful job, and choosing a winner was not an easy task. Here is a recap of all the groups accomplished during 30 Days for Change:

99 Balloons: Led by Elliott Miller, Caroline Fox, Courtney Cassin, and Marissa Spear raised over $700 to send medical equipment to an orphanage in Ukraine. They also participated in a monthly volunteer opportunity, and raised awareness of rEcess at BHS.

7Hills: Led by Sarah Newton, Haley Hogue, Myles Markey, Erin Mertes,  and Ellen Mertes. Over $1,000 was raised by this group to help the initiatives at 7 Hills. They sold bracelets to local neighborhoods and shared the mission behind 7 Hills.

Saving Grace: Led by Morgan Drish, Hannah Amerson, Morgan Jones, Lindsey Martin, and Demi Moore. The students were able to help spread the word about Saving Grace. They took student polls, handed out brochures, and promoted the services Saving Grace provides. They improved their social media campaign and helped create new marketing materials for the organization.

The groups not only met needs of local organizations, they were able to learn about our community as well.  We know that students like these are our future. They can change not only Northwest Arkansas, but the world.

We were honored to partner with them on this journey and we are looking forward to next year. If you are interested in learning more, or getting involved- email us here.



Walmart “12 Days of Giving” Selects 3 Bags in 2 Days

We are so thankful to share that 3 Bags in 2 Days has been selected as a part of Walmart’s “12 Days of Giving” campaign.  We are overjoyed and blown away to have been nominated and selected; however, we know it is only because of every single person who has come alongside these efforts in Northwest Arkansas.

This is a reflection of your work, your dedication, and your compassion!  And now we have the opportunity to empower these efforts of making small bags of compassion tools to the restoration of dignity, hope, and love.

Thank you Northwest Arkansas!  We are humbled and honored to receive this investment into the efforts of 3 Bags in 2 Days (more info to come).

Here is a copy & link to Walmart’s announcement

Walmart Gives $200,000 to 10 Nonprofits on the 12th Day of Holiday Facebook Campaign

BENTONVILLE, Ark., Dec. 23, 2011 – On the 12th and last day of its “12 Days of Giving” Facebook campaign, Walmart is awarding $200,000 to 10 nonprofits that are true heroes for their communities and have made selfless acts to help those in need. Over the last twelve consecutive days, Walmart awarded a total of $1.5 million to 145 organizations in all 50 states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico.

Organizations being honored on the company’s Facebook page today are serving communities in: Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, Michigan, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Texas.

“Every community needs a hero—someone who is willing to take extraordinary and selfless action to help those in need,” said Julie Gehrki, senior director at the Walmart Foundation. “We are honored to give these inspirational community heroes the recognition they deserve and do a small part to help them achieve their mission.”

Walmart’s call for nominations for its “12 Days of Giving” Facebook campaign resulted in more than 5,400 nominations from Facebook users who shared photos and short descriptions of a nonprofit’s impact in its local community. A panel from the Walmart Foundation reviewed submissions and selected nonprofits with a focus on organizations that are providing basic needs such as food, shelter, clothing and baby supplies.

The 12th day of giving highlights organizations started by extraordinary heroes, young and old, who unselfishly opened their homes and dedicated great amounts of time to provide food, clothing, shelter and a supportive environment for those in their community who needed help. The organizations being spotlighted today include:

(link to Walmart Foundation Press Release)


NW Arkansas Community Fact Sheet: Hope 2011

Hope 2011: 3rd Annual Community Service -Focused Event for Northwest Arkansas

Northwest Arkansas Social Indicators Community Fact Sheet

by Kevin M. Fitzpatrick, Ph.D, Emily Hallgren, B.A. and Don Willis, B.A. Community and Family Institute, University of Arkansas

Who Participated and Where Are They Living?

On October 25, 2011 a one-stop service provision event took place in Fayetteville, AR. HOPE 2011, designed to serve those in need throughout the NWA region, was sponsored in partnership with the VA, United Way of NWA, 7Hills Homeless Center, and Central United Methodist Church.

Besides services for veterans, a range of other services were provided to all participants including: blood pressure/glucose, BMI screenings, eye exams, dental screenings, haircuts, legal aid, massages, etc. A lunch was provided through Community Meals at Central United Methodist, and the majority of participants received a bag of donated groceries, and personal hygiene items provided by 3 Bags in 2 days.

(to read full report, please follow this link)



HOPE NWA 2011…grace

On Tuesday of last week we had the distinct privilege of serving alongside some amazing NW Arkansas organizations and incredible people to participate in HOPE NWA 2011.  Final numbers will be released soon, but we are told that over 350 families/people were served during the one day resource event held at Central United Methodist Church in Fayetteville.

HOPE NWA 2011 began 3 years ago by Dr. Kevin Fitzpatrick, Professor and Jones Chair in Community Director, Community and Family Institute, and it is incredible to see how the community has come alongside to support those in need.

We had the opportunity to talk briefly with…

Chloe Seal, 3 Bags in 2 Days

During the bag distribution, Chloe also asked people to share their thoughts on the one thing they wanted the world to know about them.  Truly beautiful to see the hope that was present in those words.

Brittney Moore of Shear Kindness & O’Shay, Owner of Black Sheep Salon

This event would not have been possible with all the incredible people behind the scenes who helped make it happen.  It’s just another example of how incredible our NW Arkansas community is and the lengths they will go to to help those in need.

If you would like more information on how you can participate with 3 Bags in 2 Days or Shear Kindness, please visit their initiative pages for more information

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the homeless man who made me rich

My wife and I have been volunteering at Laundry Love in Rogers for about a year and a half and were recently asked if we could lend a hand down in Fayetteville.

June was our first time at Laundry Love Fayetteville and we loved it.  Each Laundry Love has it’s own environment & community, and this was different from what we’re used to in Rogers.  It’s a different laundromat with different machines, different volunteers, different clients, but all different in a very good way.

One person, in particular, really made us feel as though we needed to commit to serving at Laundry Love Fayetteville.

I had first run into him while assisting with the last NWA Point-in-time Homeless Census. I interviewed him in his home which was a tent in a camp out in the woods of Fayetteville. I had also ran into him again later that day at 7 Hills Homeless Center. I recognized him immediately when he arrived at Laundry Love, and it didn’t take long before we struck up a conversation that lasted nearly an hour.  He was still living in the woods, but trying to get into an apartment.  And, like me, this was also his first time at Fayetteville Laundry Love.

Then the unexpected happened.

At the end of our conversation, he handed me a 20 dollar bill and said he wanted to donate that to help for the next Laundry Love, and he wouldn’t take no for an answer.  I was speechless, and because of him I just can’t wait to get back to the laundromat.

(there are hundreds of stories just like this one – for more information on participating in Laundry Love Fayetteville, please visit the Laundry Love initiative page or send an email to LLPFayetteville@CobblestoneProject.org)


..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 OurStep@CobblestoneProject.org.  You may also donate to help more people like Curtis once again gain independence, security, and dignity.

UA Community Development Belize Program at The Farm

Today we had the honor of having students from the University of Arkansas Community Development Belize Program, led by Dr. Jennie Popp, come and serve at The Farm in preparation for their trip to Belize this summer.

This was a unique opportunity for these students to come and see first hand how a community garden can work & how they can work together as a team in this capacity while in Belize.  During their program, University of Arkansas faculty project leaders will instruct these students in a practicum in their specific fields of study where they have the opportunity to consult with community partners to prepare and develop the projects that will take place each summer in Dangriga and throughout the year.   They will them implement service learning projects during the first UA summer session in the community of Dangriga, a city of about 10,000 on the Caribbean coast.

We will be anxious to hear how their program develops and we are honored that The Farm could be of service to help not only Northwest Arkansas but also the people of Belize.

About the University of Arkansas Community Development Belize Program:

In February 2006, representatives of the University visited Belize to become more familiar with the social, economic, and cultural environment of the country. Afterward, the University of Arkansas entered into a partnership with the community of Dangriga and Peacework for education, service, and economic development involving seven colleges and departments of the University.

University of Arkansas faculty project leaders will instruct students in a practicum in their specific fields of study where they have the opportunity to consult with community partners to prepare and develop the projects that will take place each summer in Dangriga and throughout the year. and implement service learning projects during the first UA summer session in the community of Dangriga, a city of about 10,000 on the Caribbean coast.

Culturally and linguistically, the city is a fascinating mixture of Creoles, Mestizos, and Mayans, though it is dominated by the Garifunas, a Caribbean people descended from African slaves and indigenous groups, with English being the official language.

Leadership for the program comes from the Sam M. Walton College of Business; the Dale Bumpers College of Agriculture, Food, and Life Sciences; the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences; the College of Education and Health Professions; the Honors College; the Office of Study Abroad; the School of Social Work; and the College of Engineering.


First Planting Celebration at The Farm

The chickens were nesting and laying eggs in their new homes. Children were running free in what soon will be corn fields. Some were learning how to plant a potato. Neighbors were meeting for the first time. The day felt good.

(special thanks to BeGoodHumans.org for video production)

The sun came out and the winds died down. Almost 130 folks gathered under a large white tent on Saturday, May 7th for the First Planting Celebration at The Farm.

Sitting on hay bales, sipping sweet tea and lemonade, each family heard the heart and vision behind The Farm from Mike Rusch, one of the founding members of the Cobblestone Project.

The elders of New Heights Church were on hand to pray for this large endeavor and dedicate the land to the needs in Northwest Arkansas.

Families purchased Harvest Share subscriptions and 30 more volunteers signed up to add to the over 200 that have volunteered at The Farm since March.

A special thank you to our partners & sponsors who made this dream become a reality!


Amazing things are growing at The Farm – cabbage, sunflowers, and real community.

Won’t you ‘Be the Farmer’ and take part in this beautiful place? You can volunteer and share in the harvest.

(special thanks to Novo Studio for photographing the day)


For more information about how you can be involved in supporting the community through The Farm initiative, we invite you to visit TheFarm.CobblestoneProject.org for more information

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 http://sociology.uark.edu/3550.php

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.


Seeds in the Ground & Seeds in the Heart

Today was the first planting day at The Farm and while we accomplished much in kicking off the 2011 season, but the words of a father explaining how spending a morning at The Farm with his sons is really about so much more may have been the best part.

Here is a short compilation of our day at The Farm.  Thank you to all who have given of their time to invest in this place for the benefit of our community.

If you would like to join us on a Friday evening or Saturday morning from now until November, please visit The Farm initiative page for service days and times.