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NWA philanthropy leaders recognized, celebrated

story by Jamie Smith
jsmith@thecitywire.com

ROGERS — Philanthropy encircles many people from the donors to the charities to the recipients of the generosity.

Celebrating the many aspects of philanthropy in Northwest Arkansas was the focus of the National NWA Philanthropy Day awards luncheon held Wednesday (Nov. 14) at the John Q. Hammons Center.

“It’s so important to recognize the time and talent that nonprofits dedicate in Northwest Arkansas. Northwest Arkansas has much to celebrate,” said Anita Schism, president and CEO of Endeavor, speaking about the corporations, cultural advancements and many other positive aspects of the region.

“There is also much work to do,” she continued. “There’s a side of Northwest Arkansas that most don’t see. We can’t afford to ignore those challenges. Continued cooperation between organizations is (vital).”

Schism briefly mentioned a new healthy lifestyles initiative that involves several nonprofits and will be launched in early 2013. That new program will be called Energize NWA, she said.

Andrea McManus, Association of Fundraising Professionals International board chair, was the keynote speaker for the event. She is from Calgary, Alberta in Canada. She said that there are more charities in Arkansas per capita than anywhere else in the country.

“It’s not the numbers are so impressive,” she said. “It’s the impact that defines the gift.”

She added that when people hear about the many corporations, individual donors and non-profits that participated in the event, those people will also want to be involved.

“People will hear and want to be involved. Everyone here has an important role to play.”

McManus discussed the idea that philanthropy involves more than just fundraising professionals.

“Without (donor) generosity, philanthropy wouldn’t even exist,” she said.

The event concluded with the award presentations:
• Outstanding Philanthropist: Jeannie Fleeman
Fleeman was a guiding force in creating Hope Cancer Resources and the Bill Fleeman Gentlemen of Distinction Fundraiser, in honor of her late husband who died of cancer. She has also been heavily involved with many other local charities.

Fleeman said she was “shocked and surprised and humbled” to learn about the award but that awards are not why people give.

“That’s the last thing you give for,” she said. “It’s nice to be honored but when you give ... the reward is seeing that you are truly helping other people.”

“It’s been my duty and my honor to give back to the people of this area.”

Fleeman was nominated by Hope Cancer Resources.

• Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser: Horace Hardwick
Some people say that Hardwick “majors in relationships” because of the many friendships he has throughout Northwest Arkansas and the tireless work he and his wife do for those in need. He was nominated by Circle of Life Hospice, which he spoke about when accepting the award.

“They are angels on earth,” he said of Hospice workers.

Hardwick concluded by reading the poem The Dash by Linda Ellis. The Dash speaks about the “dash” between the dates on a tombstone, meaning the person’s life.

“He noted that first came the date of her birth and spoke of the following date with tears, but he said what mattered most of all was the dash between those years,” he read.

• Outstanding Fundraising Executive: Dr. Jim Krall
Krall has served as the vice president of university advancement at John Brown University for 12 years. The relationships he’s established and the dollars he’s helped raise have impacted thousands of students’ lives who then helped people all over the world. He’s also been involved in several other NWA charitable organizes.

Krall thanked his staff for their support.

“This award has much more to do with what you do,” he said to the members of the Advancement team.

Krall was nominated by JBU.

• Outstanding Philanthropic Organization: Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund
Ralph Nesson founded the Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund in 1990 to help single parents throughout the state fight against poverty by gaining an education. There are now 70 affiliate organizations providing help to students statewide. More than $17 million has been donated to single parents since the organization’s inception.

Nesson was on hand Wednesday to accept the award on behalf of the organization.

“(The scholarship recipients) have broken the cycle of poverty in their families forever,” he said. “To all who make these efforts worthwhile, thank you.”

• Outstanding Foundation: Beau Foundation
Terry and Gwen Matthews created the Beau Foundation nine years ago after their son passed away 11 days after being born. The foundation supports and promotes prenatal care in Northwest Arkansas.

“My original vision was two rocking chairs for the neonatal intensive care unit,” Gwen Matthews said.

The vision grew well beyond that and now more than 6,800 mothers have been helped through the organization.

The foundation was nominated by the Community Clinic of NWA.


• Outstanding Corporation: Cox Communications
Cox Communications has been a long-time corporate sponsor of charitable projects including donating to more than 40 local projects between spring 2011 and spring 2012.

The company’s employees are also active as individuals in donating time and money to local non-profit organizations. Cox was nominated by Washington Regional Cancer Support Home and Washington Regional Foundation.

“A portion of every customer payment goes to supporting (philanthropy),” said Kim Rowell, vice president of field services. “We make choices we believe would make our customers proud.”

• Lifetime Achievement: Curtis and Jane Shipley
The Shipleys have both been involved in philanthropy throughout Northwest Arkansas for decades including both medical and educational causes. They were nominated by the University of Arkansas. They both thanked their family and the organizations they have been a part of for many years.


• Legacy Award: Lewis Epley, Jr.
When Epley looked up the word “legacy” in the dictionary, it spoke of passing things on to future generations.

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“I don’t like to think of legacy only in the terms of last will and testaments or trust funds,” he sia. “A personal legacy is much broader. It’s something we do or create that inspires people to follow.”

Epley has been involved in numerous health-related charitable projects for decades, with a special focus on helping eradicate polio worldwide. Epley was affected by the disease as a child.

He was nominated by the University of Arkansas.

• Youth in Philanthropy (individual): Julia Lyon
Lyon was key in developing the Full Circle Food Pantry at the UA. The model has been used at other universities and organizations nationwide. She was unable to attend the presentation because she is at medical school.

• Youth in Philanthropy (organization): Lawn Mower Boys
The Lawn Mower Boys are known for taking a negative situation and turning it into a positive. Known around the country as the Huntsville teenagers who decided it would be funny to ride lawnmowers to school and got suspended for the prank, the group of eight boys decided to mow lawns for the elderly and the disabled.

They also hosted a fundraiser that benefitted the Arkansas Children’s Hospital, earning more than $7,000 for the hospital. They were nominated by the Arkansas Children’s Hospital Foundation.

“If we had to do it again, we wouldn’t have done it any other way,” said Cole Reynolds on behalf of all the Lawn Mower Boys.

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