By Stacey Margaret Jones | Photo by Morgan O’Neil
Party with a Heart is a new nonprofit in Central Arkansas that chooses an organization each year – whose work, in whole or in part, supports Arkansas women – for which its board and volunteers will raise money + awareness for one calendar year.
Most Party with a Heart events are just for women, designed to be low-key, fun events (no auctions or raffles once guests arrive, just ticket-price expenses) that benefit the partner charity. Party with a Heart is now accepting applications for its 2018 nonprofit partner, and your charitable organization could be next if you fit the qualifications and submit your application by the September 24 deadline.
Before Party with a Heart chooses its partner for 2018, though, it’s still focusing on raising funds and awareness for the 2017 partner, Literacy Action of Central Arkansas. For example, the Mamma Mia! Sing-A-Long in support of LACA is September 30 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Argenta Community Theater.
The Party with a Heart board members were struck by how lives are significantly impacted when adults have limited literacy skills. Daily tasks that many take for granted are much more difficult or impossible for those without the necessary reading ability.
Marisela Atilano, a Little Rock mother who was born in Mexico, felt she needed to improve her English skills, including writing and reading. She’s lived in the United States for 17 years and found it difficult to talk to her sons’ teachers – until LACA stepped in to help.
“I can communicate better with my kids’ teachers, and that is helpful,” she said, noting that though she still has family in Mexico, her kids were born in America, and she has a rich social network here.
Atilano’s main goal was to pass the citizenship test to join her husband as an American citizen. Literacy Action of Central Arkansas and her family helped her prepare for the test, but she was nervous when she went to Memphis to be assessed for citizenship.
“I was nervous when they first called my name to do the interview and the test, but after I got into the room, I felt relaxed and I knew that I would pass,” Atilano recalled. When she was told she passed, she said to the interviewer, “My name is Marisela Atilano. I have been in America for 17 years, and I am very happy to now be a U.S. citizen.” Greeting her family with the news, she said, was “very emotional.”
This goal accomplished, Atilano knows she still has more to do. Next, she wants to get a job as a secretary or an office assistant.
She also encourages people who need to improve their literacy skills to enroll in LACA’s programs. “Literacy Action can help,” she said. Atilano enjoys her tutoring sessions, where she asks her tutor questions about situations that have come up in her daily life.
Literacy Action’s success with Marisela is just one of many stories demonstrating the great work they do as a nonprofit in central Arkansas, and it’s why Party with a Heart chose this organization to work with for 2017. If your organization qualifies, be sure to apply before September 24 to be considered for 2018.
About the author: Stacey Jones joined the board of Party with a Heart this year after serving on the Mamma Mia! Sing-a-Long committee in 2016. She is an independent market research consultant, writer and yoga teacher who lives in Conway with her author husband and three literarily named dogs.