Two Armorel High School EAST students, Emma Haskins, a sophomore, and Samantha FitzPatrick, an eighth grader, have collaborated with The Haven of Northeast Arkansas Inc., a local nonprofit domestic violence shelter that provides emergency shelter for abused women and children. These passion-driven girls have used teamwork and skills obtained in EAST to develop partnerships with local banks and businesses in order to provide The Haven with their two biggest needs: a centrally located office space and group home.
“Our relationship started with The Haven last year shortly after we reached out to them,” Emma explains. After seeing the students’ eagerness to help, The Haven willingly set up a meeting and their partnership was formed. The director, Phyllis McClendon, explained to them, “We never turn down someone who needs help, and due to the nature of keeping our location as anonymous as possible, receiving and collecting donations and getting information to the public has not been easy.”
Separately from The Haven, Samantha explains, “a local bank reached out to us with a project. After attending a GIS training provided by the EAST Initiative, I was able to create lending maps for the bank using ArcGIS, saving them thousands of dollars.” Then the girls brainstormed and thought “wouldn’t it be great if we could bring these two entities together?” The bank’s President agreed and committed to donating a foreclosure home when one came available that meets The Haven’s specifications. Mrs. McClendon explained that their ultimate goal was to have a home they could call their own as this is not the case with their current facility.
Acquiring a new home could take 12 years for the EAST team but they are committed to seeing it through. “We are sending out letters and emails to businesses and community members asking them to make pledges for appliances, furniture, labor, etc. when the home comes available,” Emma said. To display a joint community effort, three other EAST schools in the county have also joined the effort to help this project reach even further.
Additional members in Armorel’s EAST program are learning about the software SketchUp and ArchiCAD to design the interior and landscape of the home and the garden project group will construct raised beds and provide them with education to add a therapy type setting to their current and new facility.
For the organization’s other need, students researched vacant spaces downtown and found the perfect location. Through a collaboration with the owner, students anticipate The Haven being able to move in and operate the office soon.
“From what we have experienced so far, we will have the community support for this project — a group with vision, collaboration, and organization was what was needed,” Emma said. “Our mission as EAST students is to provide a service to others using the resources we have available.” Through this collaborative EAST project, The Haven will be able to serve more families. This will potentially create more citizens who are productive, having a rippling effect in the community.