The Helena-West Helena Kiwanis Club presented Tinsley Clark, senior at DeSoto School, the John J. Lueken Scholarship as the Winner of the John J. Lueken Essay Contest “Making a Difference” Wednesday, April 11, 2018 at the Helena Country Club.

Past Kiwanis Club President, Dana Chadwick gave members a few facts about John J. Lueken before Club President Lynn Chadwick presented the scholarship and a book to Tinsley Clark.

Tinsley was asked by Chadwick to tell the club about herself and her plans before reading her essay.

“I go to DeSoto School where I am a senior,” said Tinsley. “I really want to do occupational therapy. I decided a couple of years ago when I went with my grandmother to her occupational therapy, which was such a great experience, and I knew it was exactly what I wanted to do. I wanted to help people.”

“I’m going to stay here at Phillips College for a year, till I get my basics out of the way, and then I have to decide between Jonesboro and Fayetteville,” said Tinsley.

Each of us has Something to Give 

By Tinsley Clark, DeSoto School

Whether through our faith or instilled in our raising, some of us are just born with a sincere desire to help others – a passion to do what small things we can do to make this world a better place. I am one of those people.

“Be kind, no matter the situation,” and “it’s the little things that can make a big difference,” my mother has instilled in me from the time I could walk and talk. This is one of the reasons I have chosen to major in occupational therapy. I see it as another extension of my faith in my ability to help others.

Born and raised in Helena-West Helena, I have always been aware of our uniqueness with our situation on the Mighty Mississippi River and our rich blues and historical heritage. At the same time, I am also very aware of our problems, many of which are shared by other small Delta towns.

One problem I have realized growing up here is racial tension, which I believe is a result of cultural differences and, in some cases, racial hatred passed down from generation to generation. Even though our town is small, I’ve always noticed that there seem to be separate areas of town where whites and minorities live. Growing up here, I have, from time to time, heard racial slurs out in the community and on television that have disappointed me, because I have always been taught to treat everyone equally. It often puzzles me that issues like this can easily be solved through bringing people together through faith and treating others as we would want to be treated. Small gestures, like saying, “hello” to strangers, inviting people of other races to our church services and outreach opportunities, working together in community projects, and getting to know the people in our community could go a long way in eliminating racial problems. Still, they exist. Each of us has the ability to be a positive role model.

Another major problem in our community is our population decrease, which affects city services, area businesses, schools, and our plans for future growth. Once again, I feel that each of us is responsible for promoting positive things in our community. Even though our community is small, I have always been impressed with Helena’s distinctiveness, from our location on the Mississippi River to our historical significance and rich blues heritage. As you ride through old downtown Helena, it’s interesting to see the beautiful historic homes and churches, bricked Beech Street, historical monuments, and Civil War markers. Not many cities our size offer opportunities, like Warfield Concerts, where we can see Broadway shows similar to those seen in New York or Chicago, for FREE! We have so many good things to promote, and, yet, the bad things, like shootings and crime, often overshadow the good. And, sometimes, our own residents are the ones bad-mouthing our city. Negativity spreads like wildfire.

We need to get involved! It’s easy to walk around in our little bubble and only concern ourselves with what’s going on in our own life and think that what goes on in Helena-West Helena really doesn’t matter. It does. Promoting positive images of our community improves our outlook, our community and makes us look more appealing to outsiders. Volunteering for community events, like our blues festival, which draws thousands of new people here, shows everyone how well the people in our community work together, and promotes positivity and growth. Joining civic groups is a great way to get involved, help carry out beneficial community projects, meet people in the community, promote positivity, and boost our image.

I have grown up in a serving and loving church (Helena First United Methodist Church) and consider my church family as part of my family. As Christians, part of our mission has always been to share God’s love and to help others, whether in our own congregation, our community through our participation in Grace Food Pantry efforts, or in our mission projects to help feed and house people in other countries.

My faith has helped me build a solid foundation in my life and to live a life that I feel would be pleasing to God. Through my work as an occupational therapist, I can make a real difference in helping people overcome their limitations. At the same time, I can make a difference in my community by volunteering and serving. The great thing about helping solve each of these community problems is that the solutions are not expensive to fix and are simple and effective. All it takes is caring enough about where we live to get involved, work together and make a positive difference.  One thing I do believe is that though we may be small in numbers, we are big in heart. That is what makes Helena-West Helena so unique.