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United Way awards $5K to local nonprofits Mini-grants to assist various services

Posted on April 4, 2018

By Caitlan Butler
Staff Writer

The United Way of Union County awarded mini-grants totaling $5,000 in a ceremony Tuesday at the El Dorado-Union County Chamber of Commerce.

Thirteen grants ranging from $250 to $700 were awarded to 11 local nonprofit agencies. In a press release, the United Way of Union County said the focuses of the grants were for health and human service issues.

Wayne Gibson accepted two grants totaling $350 and $400 on behalf of the Fairview Community Development Association. He said the first grant will go toward the Ready to Excel Literacy Camps, to be held at Barton Junior High School and Washington Middle School in June. The second grant will help with their annual school supply drive, held the Saturday before school starts. Gibson said they have served over 1,000 students and they plan to try to have another supply drive when school starts back up after winter break.

Cheryl Splawn accepted a $500 grant for Habitat for Humanity. She said a family will be moving into Habitat House No. 41, and the grant will allow them to buy interior doors and window blinds for the home.

Kristyn Bryan and Paula Williams accepted a $500 grant for the Hannah Pregnancy Resource Center. Bryan said the grant has been used to buy a refurbished computer for their office and software that she said has helped with data entry and storage, as well as sending clients appointment reminders via text.

“It’s being used to help us with the database and the client data entry so that we can further track our statistics to know what people in the community we are helping and what areas we need to change to be able to help serve Union County in a better way,” Bryan said.

Barbara Warwick accepted a $250 grant on behalf of Community Living Arrangements. The grant will purchase a treadmill for seniors at Champagnolle Landing Senior Wellness Center. The Center is open to seniors age 60 or older and their spouses, and includes a free exercise program.

Ted Woodlock accepted a $300 grant on behalf of the De Soto Area Council Boy Scouts, who will use the grant to pay for supplies, registration fees and patches for a Cub Scout program held at the Boys and Girls Club. Woodlock said the grant will serve between 10 and 15 children, and he hopes that number will grow in the future.

The Helping Hands Food Pantry received a $500 grant, with EJ Daugherty accepting

the award on their behalf.

“This last year we distributed food to around 2,200 families. We distributed over 70,000 pounds of food to the needy people here in Union County,” Daugherty said.

The pantry is located at St. Paul’s Methodist Church at 700 W. 8th St, and is open every first and third Thursday of the month from 1-3 p.m. The grant funds will go toward food to supply the pantry.

South Arkansas Fights AIDs (SAFA) received two grants, both for $300, which were accepted by SAFA director Janet Beane. Beane described AIDs Wasting Syndrome, a condition contracted by HIV and AIDs positive people wherein the sufferer loses more than 10 percent of their body weight unwillingly. According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, those suffering from wasting syndrome will sometimes have a lack of appetite, but should eat more calories and protein than a healthy person in order to avoid losing muscle mass. Beane said the grants would go towards nutritional supplements and protein-rich foods for those infected with the HIV virus or suffering from AIDs.

Kristi Lowery and Suzanne Bledsoe accepted a grant for $250 on behalf of HOPE Landing. Bledsoe, director of therapeutic services at HOPE Landing, said the grant will go toward a new computer for their lobby. The computer will allow families visiting the center to checkin and update contact information on their own. HOPE Landing does not employ a receptionist, Bledsoe said, so previously therapy staff were tasked with checking people in. They will also be able to switch their medical records from pen and paper to an electronic entry and storage system.

“The electronic medical records ensures continuity of care for our clients of care, so that we can ensure the best quality services for our families,” Bledsoe said.

Alice Mahoney received a grant on behalf of the El Dorado Education Foundation for $300. She said the money will go toward buying lab goggles for the Girls Learning About Math and Science (GLAMS) program. The program is designed to encourage eighth-grade girls to cultivate an interest in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) field by introducing them to women in those careers and having them participate in experiments.

“One of the things that GLAMS hopes to do is to take those eighth-grade girls, and since they’re looking at beginning high school, that they will look at [the] most challenging math and science classes, and they will be inspired to take those. … We know that three-quarters of those girls that come in for the GLAMS conference are majoring in math and science in college. In addition, some of them are double majoring in math and science,” Mahoney said.

Art Noyes accepted a $350 grant for KidsNGolf Union County. KidsNGolf is a nonprofit whose mission is “to introduce life changing principles, disciplines and personal confidence in the lives of young people through the teaching and playing of the game of golf,” according to their website. The grant will help to fund scholarships for their upcoming Golf Camp that is organized in conjunction with Boys and Girls Club. The date of the camp has yet to be announced, but Noyes said they typically try to hold it at the beginning of June so campers have the opportunity to use the skills they learn throughout the summer.

“As kids learn to play golf and work with their coaches and mentors, they’re learning integrity, they’re learning to depend on themselves,” Noyes said.

The last organization to accept a grant was the El Dorado Schools Pantry. Represented by Stephanie Owens and Audrey Rodermend, they received a $700 grant to go toward food and hygiene products. Rodermend said they serve over 80 food insecure elementary, middle and junior high students by sending them home with bags of food and personal care items. There is also a pantry at the high school that allows students to discreetly get anything they need.

United Way of Union County Executive Director Alexis Alexander said the grants were awarded based on applications reviewed by a committee formed from the organization’s Board of Directors. In a press release, the organization said factors for funding consideration included measurable outcomes, whether the program met needs that were currently unmet, the agency’s ability to secure future funding and whether the program being funded would address needs in the areas of education, health services, culture and recreation, safety and violence and/or healthy behaviors.

“We really appreciate what you do, and of course we really support the programs. … Again, thank you for what you do,” Alexander said to the grant recipients.

For more information about United Way of Union County, call 870-862-4903, email or visit

Caitlan Butler can be reached at 870-862-6611 or .