Carla Mouton and fellow board members of the Single Parent Scholarship Fund of Garland County work tirelessly to provide scholarships that help single parents pursue a higher education, achieve their career goals and transform their lives.
By Jillian McGehee | Photography by Jeff Fuller-Freeman | Hair by Guy Burks with Ah Shék Salon | Makeup by Adrianne Brooks with Whiplash Beauty | Wardrobe from Christi’s Boutique
Carla Mouton just thought she was retiring after her 22-year teaching career at Lakeside High School in Hot Springs. Technically, she has been enjoying the retired life since 2009, but she remains an advocate for education through her involvement with the Single Parent Scholarship Fund of Garland County.
As board chairman, she works tirelessly with fellow board members to ensure that applicants earn scholarships and an opportunity for a better quality of life for their families.
“When a friend called me about being involved, it was a no-brainer,” she says. “It’s about education and helping people improve their lives. Most people don’t realize how many single parents there are, and how hard it can be for them.”
Carla explains that the board of directors is responsible for logistics and administration of the organization – everything from coordinating event details to conducting applicant interviews and maintaining proper paperwork.
“Education is my passion. I have the time to serve and I can do it,” Carla says. “Early in my teaching career, I had students where I would be stuffing history down their throats and they didn’t even know where their next meal would come from. That realization made me a better teacher and gives me more reason to help the scholarship students. Even though I’m not teaching them, I’m helping them afford the opportunity to get an education. It’s empowering that they’re able to show their children the importance of an education.”
Carla notes the program’s success rate is impressive – nearly 85 percent of recipients graduate or finish their specific certificate program. “That’s a remarkable statistic considering the obstacles they face.”
Amy Whorton, co-chairman of this year’s style show and luncheon to benefit the organization, says 20 scholarships were awarded to single parents this spring. The scholarships can be allocated for tuition, books, living expenses, transportation, childcare or other expenses that might hinder the ability to earn a degree.
Proceeds from the style show support scholarships that help single parents pursue their education, achieve their career goals and transform their lives. Five local boutiques will be featured – Christi’s Boutique, Chantilly, Grand Lagniappe Shoppe, Grow Children’s Boutique and Pink Avenue. Door prizes, a silent auction and a cash wine bar are also part of the event.
Testimonials given by scholarship recipients serve as a highlight of the event, Carla says. “We always have recipients speak, usually they are graduates who have become success stories. I look forward to their messages and sharing with guests what a need there is and how their money is well spent. Every year, several people come forward and ask how they can be involved and help – that is most heartwarming part of it all.”
From the Board:
“Interviewing candidates for scholarships is a humbling experience. I am in awe of those who give their all in order to eclipse their difficult circumstances to become better role models and providers for their children and community.” – Lynn King
“One of my first interviews of a potential recipient made me weep because her story of survival after assault and abuse was so compelling. Now, as my mentee, she has received a scholarship for three semesters and was a confident, inspiring speaker at our scholarship reception this February.” – Vicki Cook