With a heart for children and improving community, Sara Massana joins Shayla Copas in planning the second annual Woman of Inspiration luncheon to benefit Children’s Advocacy Centers.
By Jillian McGehee | Photography by Meredith Melody | Hair by Alli Smith with Just Blow A Blowout Bar | Makeup by Kristen Gaynor with Pout | Dress from Beige
Nearly 10 years ago, Sara Massana left her home in El Salvador to pursue a degree at University of Central Arkansas in Conway. Now as a young professional, she eagerly and wholeheartedly supports organizations that she believes in. With a heart for helping children, she and Shayla Copas are co-chairmen of the second annual Arkansas Woman of Inspiration luncheon benefiting Children’s Advocacy Centers of Arkansas.
It didn’t take long for beloved civic leader Shayla, of Shayla Copas Interiors, to notice Sara’s gumption and go-for-it spirit. She met Sara, an advertising account executive and social media manager for Martin-Wilbourn Partners, a few years ago when the two served on the planning committee for Evolve – a fundraiser for Centers for Youth & Families. When Shayla became involved with CACA, she immediately thought of Sara to help establish the inaugural luncheon last year. “She’s worked so hard and is involved in so much,” Shayla says of Sara. “She has a heart for children and community like no other, and I’m so proud of the work that she has done.”
More than $500,000 has already been raised for this year’s event, Shayla says, adding that between last year’s first affair and the second annual luncheon, they will have raised $1 million for CACA. The Arkansas affiliate, with headquarters in North Little Rock, is a member of the National Children’s Advocacy Center. Each center offers a safe environment where law enforcement, child protection services, prosecution, victim advocacy and health professionals develop coordinated strategies to address each child’s specific needs. All services are free.
The Arkansas Woman of Inspiration luncheon generates necessary funding for CACA members and centers to provide critical prosecution and related services that address child abuse and neglect. As a result of last year’s success, a new center in El Dorado was built, Sara says. Shayla adds, “These centers are so important because everything can be done in one place and children don’t have to constantly retell their stories and relive the trauma.”
It’s important to continue raising funds for CACA, not only so centers can continue providing vital services free of charge, but also because more centers are needed, Shayla points out. “The reality is some families can’t afford to drive two hours to the nearest center,” she says.
The inaugural event celebrated Arkansas First Lady Susan Hutchinson and her commitment to the children of Arkansas. Johnelle Hunt will be honored at this year’s luncheon. Planned with a whimsical, butterfly theme, 700 anticipated guests will enjoy an exclusive Barbara/Jean fashion show as well as an overview of the organization’s scope of work, Sara notes.
According to the CACA 2015 annual report, members provided advocacy services to more than 5,300 children from all of the 75 Arkansas counties. Sexual abuse is the most prevalent trauma reported. Other reports include physical abuse, neglect, witnessed violence and drug endangered children. The average age affected is 9, and girls have a higher percentage of being victims.
The mission fulfillment work and cultivation of prospective CACA patrons is made possible through the leadership of directors at the various centers. Sara notes, “You can tell they really care. They are working with children and emotionally take on a lot, but they’re always in good spirits. They inspire us all to do whatever it takes for the children.”