By Kim Meyer-Webb | Photography by Jamison Mosley | Hair by Lindsey Powers Huey | Makeup by Bridget Baltimore with Barbara/Jean
When we arrived at the Nabholz home, Marisa welcomed us as if we were already friends. After enjoying an afternoon of fellowship and photography, she reflected on the wisdom of Gloria Redman – a fellow ardent ambassador of Women & Children First. “We were at lunch and Gloria insisted when you talk to people, always make sure you call them by name. People love that; and everyone adored Gloria.” Both ladies will be celebrated for an unwavering commitment to Women & Children First at the Woman of the Year Gala.
Marisa will be recognized as Woman of the Year for her dedication to the welfare of the most vulnerable Arkansans. “Statistics show that the most critical time for domestic violence is when the victim is trying to leave the abuser. Providing a place for women to escape and remove children from a potentially traumatizing situation benefits the mother and gives the children a better chance at a healthier life,” she explains. “The work of Women & Children First with children is of particular interest to me. Research indicates the more adverse events a child experiences during developmental years, the more physical and mental issues they will have in a lifetime.” This mission to create a “safe haven” resonates with Marisa. “In the short term, it gives women and their children a place of safety to escape a dangerous relationship. In the long term, Women & Children First empowers women with the resources they need to break the cycle of abuse – for themselves and their children.”
Women & Children First offers crisis intervention, safe shelter, legal advocacy and emotional support that is critical for families in distress. Creating a comprehensive center in Arkansas – the Family Peace Center – makes this mission fulfillment work more immediate + effective. The Campaign of Courage was introduced in the midst of the pandemic and placed this public health crisis in the conversation of more than 15 agencies across the state. Women & Children First Campaign of Courage Co-Chairman Diana Smithson elaborates, “The center will serve the entire community with joint resources from many state and county agencies. Perfectly situated in a four acre campus of trees, it has earned the name Forest of Hope.”
As the state’s largest domestic violence shelter, the organization’s continuum of services relies on strong community partnerships. Collaboration is evident at the Arkansas Children’s Clark Center for Safe & Healthy Children that provides medical treatment, mental health counseling and legal consultation in a centralized location for abused and neglected children. “We feel committed to help all children in Arkansas receive essential and life-saving services,” Marisa explains. Her family is also deeply devoted to Arkansas Children’s and the vision of making children stronger today and healthier tomorrow. “Arkansas Children’s and Women & Children First share a mission of improving the lives of children.”
Marisa was initially introduced to Women & Children First through her family’s business. “Nabholz Construction has assisted with many projects and repairs at the shelter through the years,” she elaborates. “Bob Nabholz lived by the philosophy that if you are blessed, you give back and serve the community. The company and its people stand by that to this day and I feel a large part of my being honored is due to that legacy.”
Each year, Women & Children First garners support for its continued mission fulfillment work through the Woman of the Year Gala. The evening celebrates the steadfast foundation of civic leadership that generates necessary revenue for the organization’s annual operating budget. This year, the Patrons of Peace Campaign will promote additional community support. A meaningful tribute to the life and legacy of Gloria Redman will inspire guests. Woman of the Year Co-Chairman Jessica Sorg adds, “Gloria Cates Redman was an integral part of the Women & Children First family for more than 15 years. Her service and dedication to the guests at the shelter was unparalleled.”
Marisa believes, like all the women < and men > who fight for the clients of Women & Children First, every family deserves the best possible life. “Providing the resources that these women need to heal emotionally and physically, change their circumstances, not return to an abusive situation is why Women & Children First is so important. This creates a better life for the women – a life they deserve and so do their children.”