Last night 440 of our closest friends and supporters gathered at the Fayetteville Town Center for our 16th annual Spark of Hope! We had a goal of raising $21,500-and exceeded that goal by raising $23,591! This brings our total for 2018 scholarships to more than $178,591– raised through Spark of Hope sponsorships, individual, and foundation support.

The night kicked off with SPSF NWA Executive Director, Tyler B. Clark, introducing guests to two new services that are available to our recipients-a therapeutic counselor and a learning coach. Former Single Parent Scholarship recipient Twyla Rownak is now offering counseling sessions, free of charge, to current scholarship recipients. Dr. Karen Hodges, a longtime supporter of SPSF NWA and lifelong educator, is volunteering her time to help current recipients discuss their academic challenges and work on creating a game plan for success.

Co-emcee Jake McBride introduced current six-time scholarship recipient Jessica Frasher, who shared her story of continued support and success: “I had planned on being a bookkeeper, but my success I have experienced and the support I have been given-has encouraged me to work towards becoming a CPA.”

Spark of Hope awards were presented to long-term SPSF NWA supporters Susan and Gene Anderson, Corporate Sponsor of the Year United Bank, and Supportive Community Partner-The Event Group. Beth Tiller was thrilled and genuinely surprised to be awarded with the 2nd annual Distinguished Alumni Award. Beth exemplifies the long-term success of the Single Parent Scholarship Program. The coveted Spark of Hope awards and the Distinguished Alumni Award were hand curated stained-glass pieces designed by local artisan Kathy Gilbert. Catherine Heath of NWACC and Susan O’Brien were awarded the Most Supportive Professor and Most Supportive Employer awards respectively.

Single Parent Scholarship of NWA Alum, Jacqueline Anderson described to the audience how being a scholarship recipient has helped not only her confidence, but helped her instill that confidence in her five children: I was awarded the scholarship and from that day forward, have ALWAYS felt supported by this amazing organization. Not just financially, but emotionally as well. I had people rooting for me, people I didn’t want to disappoint. It wasn’t until then that I realized that I hadn’t been capable of raising confident children, because I wasn’t confident myself. I didn’t believe fully in myself until then, and how could I instill those characteristics in my children if I didn’t have them myself? Single Parent Scholarship Fund of NWA changed that about me. Through encouragement and support I built the confidence I needed to succeed and teach my children that the possibilities are endless for them as well.”   

The audience was treated to a light-hearted moment from Ameila Bautista’s, a five-time recipient of the single parent scholarship and two-time recipient of the Bob & Diane Shaw Family Endowed Scholarship, four children: Bryton (18), Bryndell (17), Byanca (14), and Bliyge (13). During a Q&A with co-emcee Hilary Hunt, the kids expressed their love and admiration for their mother. They shared how proud they were of her and her determination to reach her goal of becoming a dental hygienist.

The night was capped off by an exhilarating speech from Arkansas Native, Cara Brookins. Cara shared her moving story of being a former Single Parent Scholarship Recipient, a single mother of four, and how she and her kids built their home from the ground up—using only YouTube tutorials and a lot of sweat, heart, and determination. In building their home—they re-built their family. Cara ended her keynote speech with the sentiment: “Keep showing up. Keep giving. I can’t wait to see what this organization does next!”

It was an emotional, moving, and inspiring night! None of this would have been possible without the continued support from individuals and businesses in our community. Single Parent Scholarship Fund of NWA thanks YOU! If you missed the opportunity to give or feel compelled to give more-please visit give.spsfnwa.org.