“A lot has happened over the course of a year and a half,” commented Mollie Palmer of Together for Hope at Rotary's luncheon on Sept. 4.
Palmer explained that Together for Hope evaluated what they felt was still working after 10 years of work, what they considered was their passion and what the community found an interest in as well as some other projects that could be taken on.
“We didn't realize what other resources we had available until we started looking at the big picture from other angles,” stated Palmer.
Palmer singled out the downtown property on Walnut Street that has been passed on to Thrive, who had the people, the plan, the vision that ultimately will be put to work so HCG can provide nutrition education and a space for gardeners across the community to grow fresh food.
“Thrive just recently received a $13,500 grant from the Helena Health Foundation that is going to do some work in that garden, get it up and running again and achieving the dream of providing a haven for plants and local gardeners,” commented Palmer.
Palmer explained that Together for Hope was launched in 2001 by the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and is a long-term commitment to working with people in 20 of the nation's most economically challenged counties in order to affect change and break the cycle of economic disparity. Two of the TFH focal counties, Lee and Phillips, are located in the Arkansas Delta.
“Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Arkansas is committed to walking alongside local leaders to build long-term relationships by learning and listening. We partner with local and outside churches, businesses and individuals to fuel economic and community development in the Delta,” said Palmer
“A lot our TFH of relationships with the kids and young leaders have created a really strong believe that if we invest in our leaders, we can turn this community around and create productive members of society,” continued Palmer.
Palmer explained that over the summer TFH implemented a “Stories on Wheels” reading program, funded by the Phillips County Community Foundation. The purpose of the program was to reduce the “summer slide” – the 22 percent grade level students lose when they don't read in the summer.
“We built bookshelves with the kids. The kids took the bookshelves home so that they would have a place to store the new books they would receive during in the summer including the library books they would check out from us two days a week,” added Palmer.
Palmer explained that a point system was installed so that local children would be encouraged to check out books and participate in reading comprehension activities for each of the books they read.
Palmer reported that the Phillips County Boys & Girls Club helped implement a cooking and gardening program called “Cooking Matters” in which grew their own garden.
Page 2 of 2 - Palmer expressed gratitude to the many volunteers and supporters who have helped make this year a success in implementing and encouraging literacy development and leadership skills.