By Kim Meyer-Webb | Photography by Sarah Oden | Hair & Makeup by Haydon Howard with Red Beauty Lounge | Shot on location at Marlsgate Plantation
This Arkansas native describes the Stuttgart of her childhood as “a town with deep roots – surrounded by loving, giving, serving people who live as a true community.” Martha Ellen Talbot maintains these values in nearly every aspect of her life. At her home, she welcomed us with hospitality that beckoned an instant kinship. This kind of sisterhood is central to her tenure at the 20th Century Club, a membership that’s more than 350 women strong. “At the heart of it, we’re all hoping to make life a little easier for the residents at the lodge,” she reminds us. Martha Ellen’s generous spirit + strong sense of place blend seamlessly into her remarkable business and civic leadership.
As president of the 20th Century Club, Martha Ellen brings her gracious Southern hospitality into the organization’s lodge and the residents it serves. She continues important mission fulfillment work – providing accommodations and fellowship to cancer patients – as the club prepares to host its annual Hope Ball.
Martha Ellen was initially introduced to the 20th Century Club through her daughter’s participation in the Angels of Hope program. “I was going through breast cancer treatment at the time. Being in the lodge with patients and watching the club members serve together as well as mentor the Angels of Hope convinced me it was my place to be; I felt at home,” she remembers.
Martha Ellen and her husband Beau live at the historic Marslgate Plantation in Scott. The estate hosts countless gatherings – from weddings to family reunions, ladies luncheons and tea parties – all under the auspice attention to detail of the couple. “We treasure the memories from every event,” Martha Ellen explains. “It’s an honor to be part of the Marlsgate Plantation history and to be intertwined in the lives of so many fellow Arkansans.” She – as Martha Ellen refers to the mansion – is a symbol of strength + resilience. “She’s not just a home; she’s a host of history and legacy in the Arkansas Delta whose story is more than 150 years old.”
There’s a bold hope for a bright future that Martha Ellen seems certain is a distinct possibility for the families that plan special celebrations at Marlsgate Plantation. And it’s no surprise that the 20th Century Club impressed Martha Ellen. For more than 25 years, the 20th Century Club has helped families through their cancer journey – providing a “home away from home” at the lodge. The organization was established to promote the war effort and assist the Red Cross with necessary volunteers. As cancer-related diagnoses + research increased and Central Arkansas became renowned for its state-of-the-art cancer treatment facilities, the club evolved to meet the needs of the community. The 20th Century Club Lodge opened in April 2011 to accommodate more patients and their families in a modern, efficient facility. The no-cost housing is available to patients receiving cancer treatment at area medical centers. The 20th Century Club members and Angels of Hope offer camaraderie + fellowship in addition to the necessary amenities.
Each year, the Hope Ball generates critical support for the operating costs of the lodge and the organization’s sustainability. A highlight of the gala is the formal presentation of the Angels of Hope. Celebrating more than a decade of community service, the program fosters civic leadership and a spirit of volunteerism among high school juniors. Program activities at the lodge include sharing meals, playing games and visiting with cancer patients. Congruent with the gracious attitude of its members, the Hope Ball guarantees an evening of ease + elegance that reflects the hope of the 20th Century Club. “After going through my own cancer treatment, the 20th Century Club answered a calling in my heart to support patients at the lodge,” Martha Ellen reflects. “We HOPE this ball will entertain and inspire guests to join the circle of support that surrounds our residences – providing love, laughter and strength.”