Thursday, December 6th, SPSF NWA board members, scholarship recipients, graduates, volunteers, staff and supporters rang in the holiday season. Jingle Mingle, which was held at Stone Chapel at MattLane Farms, is SPSF NWA’s annual holiday event to celebrate the season and thank donors and community partners for giving the gift of education to single parents creating better, brighter futures for their families through higher education. Several scholarship recipients attended and experienced the support of the community.
Jingle Mingle also served as an opportunity for end-of-year giving for SPSF NWA, which is entirely supported through community gifts from individuals, businesses, churches, civic clubs and foundations. A private family foundation covers the bulk of the fund’s administrative expenses, which means that donations go directly to scholarships and student support programs.
Guests were treated to a holiday surprise when the Fayetteville Rotary Cog-Hogs Quartet serenaded the crowd with Christmas carol classics. SPSF NWA Executive Director, Tyler B. Clark, welcomed the crowd of approximately 250 guests and introduced SPSF NWA Alumni, Jennifer Hackler, who spoke about how the encouragement and support from SPSF NWA has impacted the lives of her and her 5-year-old son. Jennifer graduated in May 2018 from the University of Arkansas with a Master of Arts in Teaching. She has dual endorsements in STEM Education and Dyslexia Therapy. Jennifer is a 9-time recipient of the Single Parent Scholarship and 3 time recipient of the Bogdanow Daseke Endowed Scholarship established by Ric Cooper. Following graduation, Jennifer landed her dream job as a Sixth Grade English and Reading Teacher at Kirksey Middle School in the Rogers Public School District
Jennifer shared a portion of her journey with the attendees.
“I dropped into bed exhausted from a sinus infection that I could not shake nor afford to see a doctor for without health insurance. In fact, I didn’t see a doctor until the end of my second trimester when my pregnancy medicaid was approved. By the time my son was six months old, I was at the end of my rope and decided that something needed to change. My parents had given me a 1990 Ford Tempo a few days prior, because it was easier giving it to me than taking it down to the junkyard. I drove my new little go-cart sized car (the first car I had owned in two years) proudly down the interstate to a local community college 45 minutes away, applied for a pell grant, signed up for classes, and got my student ID photo taken with a baby on my hip. That day, my counselor warned me that I would never be able to finish college if I didn’t take this seriously and do things without my baby. I let her comment fuel me, because I am the type of person who wants to prove people wrong when they say I cannot do something. I finished out that semester with a 4.0.”
Crediting the support and encouragement from SPSF NWA with changing her and her son’s lives– Hackler ended her speech with words of encouragement to current recipients, and was greeted with a standing ovation from the crowd.
“Simply put, I could not be where I am today without the support I received from the Single Parent Scholarship Fund. The money I received helped me to be able to live, not only to pay for books and classes. I had an amazing organization giving me diapers, inviting me to dinners and events, and letting me know I wasn’t alone. Without the Single Parent Scholarship Fund, I would not be where I am today. And without a college education, I would be working minimum wage jobs just trying to get by. The support you give to the Single Parent Scholarship Fund of Northwest Arkansas is helping single parents make a better future for their families—to get enough food to last through the week, to keep gas in their car for this week’s classes, or to pay for daycare so that they can get to class. More than anything, my son now knows how important a college education is for his future. He told me that he wants to go to college to be a teacher just like me. Recipients, I know it’s hard. I know you end most days with sleeping children while you stay up late to finish assignments. But hang in there.”
Clark and Board Chair, Natalie Bartholomew, also recognized retiring board members Matt Hicks, Jim Crouch, Scott Poole, and Michele Sears for their service and continued support of SPSF NWA. “To note all the different positions and countless contributions they have made as board members would simply take too long- but a word of appreciation, applause and these mementos are our way of saying THANK YOU,” Clark shared with the crowd.
Thanks to generous community supporters—Jingle Mingle raised $17,474.60. These funds will directly impact SPSF NWA recipients and their families.
Jingle Mingle was sponsored by Erstine Holdings, First National Bank of NWA and Stone Chapel at MattLane Farm. Guests jingled to Fayetteville Rotary Cog-Hogs Quartet and mingled with hors d’oeuvres by The Event Group. The bar was sponsored by Core Brewing and the signature cocktail featuring spiced cider was provided by Black Apple Brewing.
To support SPSF NWA donate at give.spsfnwa.org