Posted on June 20, 2023
El Dorado Service League takes top prize
El Dorado News-Times
First Financial Bank held its annual Nonprofit Excellence Awards Thursday afternoon. From left, Amber Murphy, VP of marketing at First Financial; Jennifer Davis, director of Turning Point; Gabby Pitard, president of El Dorado Service League; Paula Williams, director of Hannah Pregnancy Center; Chris Hegi, CEO of First Financial. (Matt Hutcheson/News-Times)
Three local nonprofits were honored on Thursday during First Financial Bank’s annual Nonprofit Excellence Awards, where the El Dorado Service League took the top prize.
Members of the ESL joined representatives from the other finalists, Hannah Pregnancy Resource Center and Turning Point of South Arkansas, for the ceremony held at the First Financial headquarters on Peach Street.
The ceremony began with a video featuring all three of the finalist organizations, where employees and beneficiaries shared testimonials.
El Dorado Service League is an organization focused on providing services to underprivileged children. ESL’s portion of the video focused on their community outreach, including the back-to-school Wildcutz program that provides free haircuts to local students and Beyond the Basics, which assists with needs such as prom clothing for students.
Hannah Pregnancy Center is an organization that helps women and families facing unplanned pregnancies, and their portion of the video gave an overview of their services including free pregnancy and STI testing, free ultrasounds, classes and jail outreach.
Turning Point focuses on providing assistance and safety to survivors of domestic violence, and their part of the video featured a woman who now volunteers for the organization who detailed how TP housed her in their shelter and helped remove her from a dangerous situation.
First Financial Bank CEO Chris Hegi spoke to attendees to congratulate the nominees before announcing the winner.
“I hope you’re thankful that we have those types of organizations in our community. All communities have these needs… so hats off to everybody here,” Hegi said.
He concluded with a Ralph Waldo Emerson quote directed at the nonprofit workers: “To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived, this is to have succeeded.”
All three finalists received prize money from First Financial, with ESL claiming the top $5,000 prize and HPC and TPSA taking the $2,500 runners-up prizes.
ESL Vice President Grace Depper said her organization was proud to be included among those considered for the prize.
“We were just thrilled to be nominated with these local organizations. It shows the vibrant community we live in, a community that is so generous and wants to help others,” Depper said.
The $5,000 prize will be helpful for furthering the ESL’s mission, she continued.
“It means we can keep doing what we do, which is to show up and work for the kids. We’re looking to expand and any funding like this that we didn’t count on will assist in that. We will be thoughtful and intentional in doing what we do,” Depper said.