17th Annual Spark of Hope

On Thursday, June 20th, 2019, Single Parent Scholarship Fund of NWA hosted the 17th annual Spark of Hope Awards Ceremony at The Fayetteville Town Center to honor its scholarship recipients and supporters. Over 450 scholarship recipients, alumni and contributors gathered for the program, emceed by Jaclyn House from Fox 24/KNWA and Jake McBride from KIX 104. A special 35th Anniversary video, produced by KNWA, was premiered at the event followed by a toast to the last 35 years led by LaDeana Fleshman, Board Vice-Chair and SPSF NWA Alum, and three of the original founders of SPSF NWA, Ruth Collier, Ralph Nesson, and Jan Judy. 2008 Single Parent Scholarship of NWA Alum, Dr. Angela Courage described to the audience how being a scholarship recipient has helped not only her confidence, but how SPSF NWA helps disrupt harmful cycles such as poverty, ignorance, and helplessness and replaces them with prosperity, knowledge, and empowerment.

SPSF NWA current scholarship recipients, Brylie Andrews and Amelia Bautista, shared their triumphs and goals as single parent scholarship recipients. Amelia shared her gratitude to the supporters who have helped her along the way:

“When things seemed dark and feelings of despair creep up-like how I will pay bills, pay for food, pay for mine and the kids school items—Single Parent Scholarship Fund of NWA has been there to help me. Every semester is like Christmas for our family. I can sleep knowing there is an organization that gives us single parents comfort and support knowing we have a community that believes in us and our families. Single Parent Scholarship Fund of NWA has been one of my biggest supporters and they are the reason I am able to continue running this marathon known as life. Thank you to this organization and its supporters for your continued kindness and your willingness to believe in my children and me. We are forever grateful.”

Liz Baker-Ray, an eleven-time recipient of the single parent scholarship and recipient of the Lois M. Fry Memorial Scholarship, was praised by her four children during a Q&A with Jacyln House. Rose Kilpatrick(17), Quana Kilpatrick(14), Samuel Kilpatrick(12), and Gabe Baker(8) praised their mom for her hard work while she pursed her degrees from NWACC and JBU, where she graduated in 2013, and expressed their gratitude for her determination to change their lives as a family.

The prestigious Spark of Hope awards were presented to David Erstine for Individual Support, Glen Conklin Charitable Foundation as Community Partner, Prairie Farms for Corporate Support, and the James and Wanda Irwin Family were presented a special Legacy Award. Each award recipient received hand painted prints from local artist Kellie Lehr.

Most Supportive Professor and Most Supportive Employer awards were presented to Dr. Kim McComas, a Math Education professor at the University of Arkansas and Heron Martin APRN, of Northwest Medical Plaza Eastside. These awards were recipient-nominated and selected for their commitment to helping drive the success of hard-working single parents.

This year’s event was sponsored in part by The Walton Family Foundation, Citiscapes, Cox Communications, KNWA/Fox 24, iHEART Media