Where to Give
LENDING AID TO THE HOMELESS AND IN NEED DURING THE WINTER HOLIDAYS
by Jim G. Miller
It is estimated there are 1,000 homeless children in the Garland County school systems according to Janie Woodall Smith, Executive Director of the Jackson House. Take a drive up Malvern Avenue most days and you will see people exiting the DCI Plasma Bank with tourniquets tied around their arms walking across the street for lunch at the Jackson House at 705 Malvern Avenue. Serving Monday through Saturday from noon to 1 pm, the Jackson House is one of many non-profit organizations offering numerous services to the underprivileged here in Hot Springs. These organizations are able to operate with the help of donations and local volunteers.
Although Hot Springs itself is a small town, it is not difficult to witness the poverty that pervades many pockets of the downtown area. “When you say homeless of course it can be a generally loose term. A lot of people who are homeless will sleep on a couch a few nights, and then they’ll just wander until they’re eventually out on the street somewhere,” says Smith. Approximately 20 to 30 percent of the homeless are made up of veterans who are also in desperate need for support from local shelters.
There were many people concerned with the last government shutdown over the elderly, and in fact, an organization that formerly existed to help the elderly in Hot Springs called Senior Companions has disbanded due to unsuccessfully obtaining sponsorship.
The tourism of course does provide money for many people seeking work in Hot Springs, but once the season is over, job options in the area quickly become limited, which leaves many out in the winter cold of Arkansas. This is why volunteering or just being aware of your neighbors can be helpful this time of year.
Many organizations that help the underprivileged in Hot Springs need toys, clothing, blankets, and especially volunteers. “Even if we have a lot of donations, we still need help receiving everything,” says Smith.
The Salvation Army at 115 Crescent Avenue provides meals Mondays, Wednesdays, and Friday evenings, and they also provide additional support for those in need. It is one of the largest charitable missions in the United States. Their location off of Malvern Avenue provides a brief sanctuary to those in need.
Another local food pantry that provides free meals to the hungry of Hot Springs is The Masters Table at 631 Park Avenue which was started by Hot Springs Village resident Lain Rodgers fourteen years ago. “At first we didn’t know the need was there. Everyone I knew had enough, and we were so blessed that we decided to start giving back,” says Rodgers. The Masters Table provides meals every Saturday from 10 am to 1 pm and also has an area upstairs for people to obtain free clothing as needed.
If you talk to someone in the field of social services, they will most often say that sometimes it takes a whole village to raise one child, and this is definitely the case among the agencies in and around Hot Springs. People are not necessarily prideful about their difficult situations, so it’s sometimes difficult to get them to open up. Many organizations attempt not only to aid people’s physical needs but also to aid their morale, and for some this is more important than just a warm meal.
The local Teen Challenge chapter located at 629 East Grand Avenue provides support to males who are 18 and older. Working with the district court, they aid those who in some cases have no other alternative but to go to jail for petty or drug related crimes. This organization also gives back to the local community by providing ready and willing volunteers to other non-profit organizations throughout Hot Springs. Offering a continued education through a credited GED program as well, Teen Challenge is a pillar of giving in the community of Garland County and always accepts the generosity provided by other community members. Samaritan Ministries of Hot Springs at 131 Sanford Street also provides shelter for men falling on hard times. It also has plenty of volunteer opportunities during the holiday season.
The Potters Clay Ministries at 110 Crescent Avenue is a home for women and children in crisis and girls with addiction. It was founded by Methodist Ministers Bob and Elaine Berry along with Father Allen Rosneau of St. Joseph’s. The organization works with the district court to offer young women shelter or housing. Always looking for support and donations, they request that you donate whatever you would use in your own home.
Safe Haven Shelter for Women and Children provides a safe comfortable shelter for a diverse community of women and children offering compassion in a dignified and respectable way for homeless women and children for up to 180 days. For more details on donating or other services that are provided call 501-276-7750 or email email@example.com.
The Ouachita Children’s Center at 339 Charteroak Street serves the communities of Garland County and Clark County, offering services to youths ages six to seventeen and their families. It offers residential and non-residential services, including a 24-hour emergency shelter, case management, and many other rewarding and educational services to those in need.
Hillcrest Children’s Home at 2325 Malvern Avenue is a private 65-acre Christian childcare campus for abused, neglected, and sexually exploited youths ages five to eighteen. It offers opportunities to sponsor a child, and it has a strong focus on continuing education after high school. Contact Alice Ellsworth at Hillcrest Children’s Home at 501-262-1660 if you have questions or if you are interested in being a host family for a child during the holiday season.
The list goes on in terms of local organizations that give aid for the sake of others here in Hot Springs, where the healing waters of the springs and the generosity of peoples’ hearts may rejuvenate those in need. It is good to know that there are places that will continue to provide warmth and care to those that have little as long as the community contributes a helping hand. For further information about local charities and ways that you can give in Garland County, contact the local United Way office.