Eleven students from the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith Jumpstart Arkansas program participated participated in the Martin Luther King Jr. National Day of Service Jan. 18, 2021, by serving the Fort Smith community through the 100 Families initiative. The UAFS Jumpstart members partnered with the Literacy Council of Western Arkansas, United Way of Northwest Arkansas, and local bookstore Bookish to complete the project in celebration of diversity.
“Martin Luther King Jr., Day was a day of celebrating race, culture, and conversation,” said Kimberly Taylor, Jumpstart coordinator for UAFS. “Our service project will help guide families from the 100 Families project in having open and developmentally appropriate conversations around race and culture within their homes.”
EngageAR provided UAFS Jumpstart and the Literacy Council with a $1,000 mini-grant to fund the purchase of the children’s book “The World Needs More Purple People” for each family. The books were added to packets that also included discussion guides, masks, and hand sanitizer and were distributed to area resource centers that support 100 Families.
Members also uploaded read-alouds that celebrate diversity to the UAFS AmeriCorps YouTube channel, and Bookish hosted a virtual story hour in which the distributed book was read.
“The book teaches children to embrace their uniqueness while also finding connections with those around them,” said Lindsey Logan, UAFS Jumpstart member. “I hope the books and packets distributed to families allow them for a more meaningful and open conversation about the diversity surrounding them.”
Students participating in this year’s project were Karsyn Ritchie of Elkins; Malaya Logan of Farmington; Laney Barfield, Fatima Bonilla, Karina Gonzalez, Adriana Hernandez, and Daisy Vargas, all of Fort Smith; Lesly Yanez of Heavener, Oklahoma; Erica Mimbs of Lincoln; Lindsey Logan of Mena; and Bethanie Best of Poteau, Oklahoma.
For more information about the UAFS Jumpstart Arkansas program, contact Taylor at email@example.com or 479-788-7962.
The mission of EngageAR is to foster a culture of service to strengthen communities and solve local problems. In addition to managing the State AmeriCorps sub-grant program, the office works to build collaboration across federal and state agencies, community-based organizations, and national service programs to improve lives and strengthen communities.
For more information on EngageAR, go to volutneerar.org/about-us.