Serving the community for nearly two decades, Inviting Arkansas continues to recognize philanthropic + civic leadership in Central Arkansas. As we begin this new decade, we have some buried treasures to share from the archives. These are just a few illustrious covers that reflect the continued mission fulfillment work in our community. Enjoy the memories, read about a few of the Capital City’s beloved foundations and remember to vote for your favorite cover – one of these nonprofit organizations will win a complimentary ad in the magazine. The contest will close on May 31st… #MakingPhilanthropyFUN
Ginger Beebe for Women & Children First – December 2010 Issue
By Jillian Duke | Photography by Nancy Nolan | Wardrobe from Proposals | Makeup by Antonio Figueroa with Dillard’s Chanel
No two days are alike for Arkansas First Lady Ginger Beebe. A few rituals remain in tact, such as starting the day with Gov. Mike Beebe reading the newspaper and drinking coffee. Besides that morning tradition, the day’s schedule varies from speaking engagements to luncheons. There is one constant, however. It’s flat and made out of paper and can be found with the first lady at all times. The paper doll, Flat Stanley, has received national attention, and Ginger has helped make him famous in Arkansas.
Education is a priority for the first lady. Flat Stanley, which is based off a children’s book character, adds to Ginger’s endeavor in helping elementary students learn more about the world, people and their customs. She has partnered with the Clinton School of Public Service whose students take Flat Stanley with them on their journeys around the world. In her office at the Governor’s Mansion, among many other photos and albums, Ginger has an album filled with photos of Flat Stanleys in the White House, African jungles and other locations. She takes these photos to schools and shares them with children so they can gain an understanding of different geo-graphical locations and cultures. “Flat Stanley is a wonderful educational tool to use with the children, and it makes learning fun,” she says.
Ginger’s passion for the education of Arkansas’ children extends beyond the classroom, as she is also an advocate for a number of issues concerning women and children, including domestic violence. While volunteering and serving on the board for the White County Rape Crisis Center, she met so many people in need. Because of the reality of full shelters and busy crisis lines, helping combat abuse and violence in the state is a given, she says. For her efforts and advocacy, Ginger is this year’s Woman of the Year and will be honored January 15 at the annual gala benefiting Women & Children First. “I’m humbled by the honor and get embarrassed by attention, but it’s about raising funds and awareness for Women & Children First,” the first lady says.
Stopping the cycle of domestic abuse and violence starts with education. “Sometimes these women don’t know any different,” Ginger says. “Through schools, we can educate and help stop the cycle, but unfortunately, many times, children go home and are around violence.” That’s where shelters like Women & Children First come in. They provide the means and resources for these victims and families to get back on their feet.
The Governor’s Mansion vegetable and herb gardens are good indicators that health is another top priority for the first lady. “Arkansas is No. 2 in childhood obesity and we need to change that,” Ginger says. When children are in poor health, it affects their learning and potential for a healthy life later on, she adds.
During the governor’s second term, which begins in January, the first lady says we will find her further pushing for healthy eating and lifestyles. “When children come on tours of the Mansion, we take them in the garden and point out all the different vegetables,” she says. “I ask them how many they recognize and whether they eat them at home.” She’s trying to up the number of children who can name the foods and even better, the percentage of children who see the vegetables on the dinner table at home. For the visually impaired, the first lady developed an audio tour of the herb garden. “We are ADA compliant here, but a blind person can’t see the art or silver,” she says. “They can get as much out of smells, though.”
Upon taking up residence in the Governor’s Mansion, the Beebes promised to open it more to the public. With an event just about every day of the week, they have upheld that commitment, and Ginger looks forward to hosting more events in their second term.
Showcasing art is just one benefit of holding different events. “I love showcasing the many talented artisans in our state,” she says. Above the first lady’s organized desk, with neat piles of papers and notes on it, hangs a colorful painting from one of the Birch Tree Art Shows. The show is held each year to display and sell artwork by clients of Birch Tree, an organization that uses the arts to treat adults with mental illness.
Being first lady provides Ginger a good platform to advocate her causes. “It gets people’s attention and they will listen,” she says. “I’m surprised at the number of people who ask me to come and speak and those who ask me to pose for pictures, but I have to remember how important it is to everyone.” Being accessible and helpful are two things Ginger enjoys about her title. Little do most people know, however, that she has a fear of public speaking. Standing before a crowded room has become easier over the years, but she still gets nervous. “I take lots of time researching whatever I am asked to talk about, and I remember to breathe,” Ginger says. “I take many deep breaths, and before a speech, I write it, type it and go over and over it.”