This Helena native brings his mantra – “What good shall I do this day?” – to Habitat For Humanity and its work that transforms lives.
By Barrett Gay | Photography by Sara Reeves | Shot on location at The Nature Conservancy’s William Kirsch Preserve at Ranch North Woods
“I have two signs in my office. One says ‘Be Optimistic,’ a view I should probably put to practice more often. The other says, ‘What good shall I do this day?’”
In his pursuit of answering that daily call, Jay O. Howe serves on the Habitat for Humanity of Central Arkansas Board of Directors and the governance committee. The local chapter of the international nonprofit organization, established in 1976, brings its global vision – to “put God’s love into action by building homes, communities and hope” – to Arkansas, transforming the lives of families and neighborhoods throughout the Capital City. Habitat builds homes and sells them to qualified homeowners – offering zero percent interest along with training and resources for the homeowners in an effort to restore + revitalize communities. This chapter, established in 1989, continues to uphold its unwavering commitment to the organization’s mission fulfillment work that generates measurable results – to date, it has completed 160+ building and rehabilitation projects in Arkansas.
Jay O. also serves as chairman for Habitat Young Professionals, an auxiliary group that cultivates civic leadership and a spirit of volunteerism. “HYP has two purposes. We recruit folks interested in philanthropy and advancing Habitat’s mission, while serving as a pipeline for good board candidates,” Jay O. explains. “And we act as a fundraising arm for Habitat. We host three annual fundraisers – Bowling & Building, Oh, The Humanity! and ReStore & After.”
In preparation for ReStore & After, Jay O. notes, the name “is a play on words. Habitat operates retail centers, called ReStores. We accept donations for new and used household items, clothes and hardware and resell them at affordable prices. The ‘& After’ comes from the original theme of the event. Local artists and other volunteers are invited to the ReStore to select and repurpose items that we feature in the auction at the event.”
Jay O. is particularly looking forward to a special tribute to the Corbin family at this year’s ReStore & After. “It’s been fun watching the event grow over the past few years, and we’re especially excited about honoring the life of Justice Don Corbin this year. His daughter Jennifer has been with HYP from the beginning and currently serves on the board of directors. She’s been a tremendous help for every ReStore & After. It’s a combination of celebrating a life well spent and all Justice Corbin’s years of service, as well as appreciating the efforts Jennifer has made.”
Before his involvement with Habitat, Jay O. attended the University of Arkansas and earned a degree in psychology. Currently, he serves as associate general counsel for the University of Arkansas system and works as in-house counsel at UAMS. A year before he graduated from the U of A Fayetteville, he was at a crossroads. “I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to go into clinical psychology or law school until I met a freshman journalism major who was thinking about law school. I thought getting admitted to law school would impress her, so I went down that road. For the most part, I was right. We’ve been married for eight years.”
Though his formal education is complete, Jay O. says he hasn’t stopped learning. “I enjoy learning for the sake of learning. The more you know, the better off you are.” One topic he is learning more about is civilian trauma training – sharing his knowledge with others and saving lives is paramount to him. “The most common preventable trauma-related death is from bleeding. The Stop the Bleed campaign focuses on teaching civilians a few simple skills, mainly proper tourniquet use, that can stop deadly bleeding.” Jay O. is auditing the fall EMS course at UAMS and says that if he takes the licensure exam, “the occasional weekend in the back of an ambulance could be a new hobby.”
As Jay O. continues his work + play in Central Arkansas, always mindful of his mantra – what good shall I do this day? – this time of year, he’s equally dedicated to reading and relaxation with family at Greers Ferry Lake.
Getting to know Jay-O:
How would you describe yourself in one word? Realistic
What is your drink of choice? Whiskey
What is a hobby of yours? Deer hunting with Crew, our Boykin Spaniel, and family and friends. Ollie, our Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, doesn’t hunt with us because he doesn’t like to expend any unnecessary energy.