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Fayetteville Honored with Arkansas Volunteer Community of the Year Award

01/30/2014

The City of Fayetteville was honored for the fifth year in a row as an Arkansas Volunteer Community of the Year. The award is given by the Office of Governor Mike Beebe, the Arkansas Department of Human Services Division of Community Services and Nonprofit Support, and the Arkansas Municipal League. The award was presented to Mayor Lioneld Jordan and City representatives at the Arkansas Municipal League Annual Conference today. The recognition goes to communities in Arkansas that exemplify a strong volunteer spirit through community service. Mayor Jordan commented, "Ours is truly a great city, a historic city, a vibrant and academic city, an environmentally-conscious city and a compassionate city, and a city in which our people makes who we are."

During 2012, a $14,550,641.58 economic impact was created by over 38,000 volunteers who gave over 657,000 hours toward improving their own lives and the lives of others in Fayetteville. This is an increase in 100,000 hours over last year.

Many hours of service are given to the City itself. More than 3,000 hours and almost 200 individuals serve on boards and committees who research and make recommendations to City Council. During 2012, tremendous volunteer activity (7,868 hours) was dedicated to the Fayetteville Animal Shelter. These volunteers have helped reduce the Shelter’s euthanasia rate from 50% in 2009 to 6% today, one of the lowest government euthanasia rates in the country. Fayetteville’s parks and trails contribute to a high quality of life and residents know that it takes a village. More than 1,000 hours a month (12,397 annually) are given to build off-road trails, provide a friendly presence on paved trails, and clean nearly 14,000 acres of parkland.

The University of Arkansas has reached its growth goal nine years ahead of schedule. This influx of students means more volunteers for Fayetteville organizations. According to University records, almost

every student volunteers (21,720), providing an astounding contribution of almost four million dollars in labor ($3,983, 506.29) to area agencies. Employees and especially students of the Fayetteville Public School District continue to support their community, giving over 74,000 hours of service with students learning the life lesson of lending a hand.

Many communities across the country struggled in different ways through the recent economic troubles. Northwest Arkansas saw a rise in food insecurity; 25% of the region’s population experiences this on a weekly basis. Organizations, churches, individuals, and the City responded with over 62,000 hours of service. Feed Fayetteville, The Farm, Community Meals, TriCycle Farms, Apple Seeds, Sunday Suppers, the Fayetteville Senior Center, Fayetteville’s community gardens, and Fayetteville Forward’s Local Food Action Group are just a few of the organizations that make food available to anyone in need. Gardens have been created, tended and food is grown and shared. Hands-on free cooking and nutrition classes are held, teaching attendees how to stretch that grocery dollar. Citizens come together to create meals, often using donated food and produce, for hundreds of people on a daily or weekly basis. This also provides social interaction and community building both in the kitchen and in the dining room.

Fayetteville’s citizens also give time to sustain its lively cultural and valuable historical heritage with over 44,000 hours volunteered. One of the jewels of this community is the Fayetteville Library; 86% of residents have a library card. The Library is sustained with the help of 216 volunteers giving over 14,000 hours of service. Our veterans are honored by 636 volunteers who donated 50, 194 hours to the men and women who have served this country.

The generosity of the Fayetteville community is astounding. Residents follow a passion or see a need and pitch in. They join a board and become leaders. They inspire others and leave a legacy. Those who have benefited then give back. This is seen with the volunteer corps and boards of such organizations like the NWA Single Parent Scholarship Fund, NWA Free Clinic, YouthBridge, Boys and Girls Club, Pagnozzi Charities, Seven Hills Center, NWA Center for Equality, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Ozark Literacy Council, and so many more valuable community assets.