It was a day of indulgence and inspiration for nine women from the Hoover Treatment Center. The lucky ladies were invited to A Day of Positive Indulgence, a day-long event designed to help them transition into new, drug-free lives. BCD and the Little Rock Chapter of The Links, Incorporated partnered to sponsor the event.
The day started with a visit to That Final Touch, a beauty salon located on Rodney Parham Road. Stylists Tam McElroy and Tina Slater washed, cut, and styled all of the ladies' hair. "We’re trying to give these ladies a little sunshine, something to feel good about themselves, and hopefully that will motivate them to continue on," said McElroy.
Rhonda, a Hoover client, who has struggled with drug and alcohol abuse for nearly 40 years, said her new hairstyle goes perfectly with her new outlook on life. "I’m just glad to have been given this opportunity," she said. "When we’re out there in our addiction, we don’t think about stuff like this. We don’t keep up our health or our looks or nothin’ like that, so it's a real nice treat."
Monique, who was addicted to cocaine for 3 years, said, "Right now I’m feeling very good about myself. I haven’t felt this way in a long time, in like three years. So I’m feeling really good today. And hopefully from this day forth I will."
After the salon, the ladies were treated to a delicious lunch, new outfits to help them dress for success, and goodie bags filled with hair and skin products. Minister and motivational speaker Phyllis Hodges also offered words of inspiration. She talked about the importance of health inside and out, and encouraged the women to pursue their passions and dreams.
BCD and the Little Rock Chapter of The Links, Inc. have been partners in “A Day of Positive Indulgence” for 3 years. Links President Carmelita Smith said, "One of the things I’ve noticed over the years is the ladies seem to change, and you hope it’s a permanent change. But even if you feel good about yourself for a day, that’s a positive feeling that maybe you didn’t have before."
BCD's Youth Initiative Program received a rare opportunity to experience one of the world’s greatest civilizations, thanks to the Little Rock Chapter of The Links, Inc. and Arvest Bank.
World of the Pharaohs, presented by the Arkansas Arts Center, is the largest exhibition to ever visit Arkansas and the first to feature Egyptian art. World of the Pharaohs includes more than 200 ancient objects that explore the lives and culture of kings and everyday Egyptian citizens. Students and staff with the Youth Initiative Program were given a guided tour of the exhibit and viewed statues, art, mummies and more.
"It’s fascinating because it’s from a long time ago, far back," said Tiara Higgins, a ninth grader at Hall High School. "I learned that when they make the mummies, first they take out all the organs and leave only the muscles, bones, and the heart."
"To be able to really experience 5000-year-old history was exciting," said Danita Paige, Youth Initiative Program coordinator. "And also giving them (students) the opportunity to dress for the occasion, not to just wear your jeans and t-shirts, but to actually take time to select their clothing, to be in appropriate attire for a formal atmosphere."
After touring the exhibit, each student received a document with their name written in hieroglyphics, the writing system used by ancient Egyptians. Students were also treated to a buffet of hors d’oeuvres.
The Little Rock Chapter of The Links, Inc. sponsored the tour, with additional funding donated by Arvest Bank. "We try to reach out to help as many kids as we can, to expose them to another side of life that they don’t normally see and get to participate in," said Carmelita Smith, President of the Little Rock Chapter of The Links, Inc.
The Youth Initiative Program provides youth with opportunities and support within a structured learning environment. The two program sites (male and female) serve 50 youth, ages 12-18 each day, giving them the chance to participate in constructive activities with peers and caring adults.
"Two organizations with similar missions are once again teaming up to make the dream of home ownership a reality for families across Central Arkansas. Better Community Development and Mission of Peace, both faith-based, non-profit organizations, are working together to provide comprehensive counseling to first time homebuyers.
Mission of Peace, which is based in Flint, Michigan, is a HUD-approved national housing counseling intermediary. The organization provides technical assistance and funding to organizations in fifteen states throughout the country. Housing counselors receive education and certification at quarterly training events.
BCD already has an established relationship with Mission of Peace. The two organizations worked together several years ago, and Reverend William Robinson is good friends with the husband of Mission of Peace’s executive director. BCD Housing Counselor Charles Vann describes the partnership as similar to being in a family.
"It’s almost like they’re cousins. You have cousins up north, cousins down south, that’s kind of how I see the relationship," said Vann.
BCD offers its homebuyer education class once a month, usually on the first Saturday of the month. The free, eight-hour course provides an in-depth review of the entire home buying process. Realtors, home inspectors, credit counselors and other industry professionals present important information for first-time homebuyers. After completing the course, each student receives a certificate that can be used to assist with a down payment or closing costs.
"It gives me a sense of personal gratification to know that, whether they buy through us or not, we have given them the best hands-on kind of experience to be prepared for homeownership," said Vann.
First-time homebuyer Dana Yarbrough agrees. "I think it (homebuyer class) has made it a lot easier for me because I’ve actually been able to cut through a lot of red tape," she said. "When you actually go through a realtor you have to give money to the realtor for even taking you out to show you houses. As for BCD, they try to help you with different things, closing costs, the grants that the City of Little Rock offers, so it has really been a treat working with BCD."
Yarbrough attended the homebuyer class in August 2009 and plans to move into her first home at the end of the month. Last year, 40 people who attended the class eventually became homeowners, and to date, BCD has built homes for 30 families and individuals.