Introducing Serve Northwest Arkansas

Serve NWA has emerged from the deep roots of serving Northwest Arkansas through the Cobblestone Project story.

Since 2008, the vision and mission of the Cobblestone Project has been to serve our Northwest Arkansas community through tangible acts of service.  Through some very creative community care initiatives, we have seen thousands of people come together, build relationships, and offer hope to almost every city in our region.  

This has only been accomplished because so many of you have made the choice to humbly serve the needs you see around you every day.

Over the past seven years, we have seen many initiatives created because of the unique perspective of ways to meet our community's needs by small, humble acts of service.  

Some of these initiatives have been incubated within the Cobblestone Project while others have moved on to become new nonprofits and managed by other organizations.  

This is exactly what we had hoped for.  

It has been ordinary people making extra-ordinary impact because they said "yes" to the needs around them.

The Farm team at the very first Harvest in 2010.

The Farm team at the very first Harvest in 2010.

One of the unique initiatives that began within Cobblestone Project was The Farm.  In 2010, there were no community farms in Northwest Arkansas and so we pioneered a new way of growing healthy food to help meet the hunger needs of our community.  

Over the past five years, the mission of The Farm has grown exponentially and with it the needs, resources, and people required to manage it.  Thousands of people have volunteered, given, and received food from The Farm.  We only want to see that continue.

In early 2015, the Cobblestone Project Founders and Board of Directors made the decision to realign the organization to serve the community according to the needs it has today (versus the needs it had seven years ago).

Today, the core Community Care Initiatives of Laundry Love, Art in the Park, 3 Bags in 2 Days, Shear Kindness, 30 Days for Change, as well as the Vulnerability Gap Initiative of Our Step is being realigned into a new Nonprofit organization known simply as "Serve."  

This will allow these initiatives as well as The Farm (now known as the Cobblestone Farm) to continue to serve our community with increased focus and the correct resources to move them forward in new and exciting ways.

MOVING FORWARD

For the first half of 2016, Serve will focus on creating a new infrastructure to support Laundry Love, Art in the Park, and 3 Bags in 2 Days.   These Community Care Initiatives will continue to operate, meet needs, and engage with others in serving Northwest Arkansas.  Additionally, the Serve Board of Directors will be evaluating plans to meet unmet needs in our community around the issues of homelessness (specifically homeless students K to 12 and Unsheltered Homeless people in our community).  This will be our Vulnerability Gap Initiative and we welcome your strategic involvement.

More to come on this very soon, and Contact Us if you have interest in being apart of shaping this approach to care for those without homes in our community.

We have a lot of work to do, but our focus is very simple.

THE MISSION OF SERVE NWA IS TO ENCOURAGE AND INSPIRE A RESPONSE OF SERVICE FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE UNDER-RESOURCED, VULNERABLE, AND EXPLOITED IN NORTHWEST ARKANSAS.

Today, we simply ask everyone to continue to serve our community as you have, share those stories with your neighbors, friends, and family, and if you need somewhere to begin, please consider Serving with us at one of our Community Care Initiatives.

We look forward to what is ahead, and cannot wait to see the stories of change that come from those who are serving with Northwest Arkansas.

 

Thank you so much!

Mike, Kevin, Stephanie & Ben


The Art in Relationships: Building Bridges, Making Memories

Are you looking for a way to get involved with the NWA community? We know that many people want to do their part to make a difference in the lives of those in our community who are underrepresented. Many times the question is...how? Several members of Christ Community Church (CCC) found that art can be a great pathway for forming a relationship and making a difference. Volunteers of CCC came out to Walker Park to interact with the homeless and under-resourced community members participating in Art in the Park.

So why did CCC choose Art in the Park? One volunteer, Kate Cully, explained that the members of CCC are always looking for ways to follow their church’s values and build relationships with under-resourced and overlooked neighbors. This is one of the goals of Cobblestone. Art in the Park allows volunteers to come spend time, make art, serve food, eat a meal and spend a day with neighbors they might not ordinarily spend time with.

Cully said, “I think it’s difficult to love and care for people that we don’t know, so Art in the Park is a great bridge builder to get to know our neighbors.”

This example set by the members of Christ Community Church is one that we can all follow. Volunteering is not just a way to spend an hour every few weeks to feel more involved, but an opportunity interact with and learn from those members of our community that we too often ignore.

If you want to follow this example, reach out to us at Cobblestone and learn the specific ways you can get involved with any of our initiatives.

You can also come join us tomorrow, April 18, or Saturday, May 16 at Walker Park to build your own bridges and experience Art in the Park first hand.

 

Small Investment, Great Return: Quarters and Neighbors

Duru-Erkan-Woodland-e1427973469517.jpg

What if you could make a small investment that guaranteed a great return? Isn’t that the deal we all want to make? That’s Laundry Love. We believe that the small investments of quarters and time will yield enormous return. The quarters provide our neighbors with clean clothes, and doing laundry and sharing a meal together facilitates relationships.

Clean clothes help restore a measure of dignity. And relationships – neighbors entering into another neighbor’s story - are the means for ending cycles of poverty.

It is amazing to see young leaders in our community catch on to this reality. Students like senior Jordan Maass (Rogers High School) and Duru Erkan (Woodland Junior High) have led fellow students in quarter drives that are helping real families and bringing us closer to our vision of a community without need.

Duru’s example shows how a small investment can yield a great return. She initiated a quarter-drive competition among homerooms and even raised awareness throughout the whole school while speaking at a pep rally. Her initiative and leadership led to $480 in quarters from the Woodland students – which directly impacts at least 30 families.

Jordan and Duru are just two young leaders who are helping make a difference today and leading their peers into a lifetime of work toward creating a community without need.

Here are a few ways we can follow their example:

 

 

  • Start a quarter-drive in your home or work. It only takes a few quarters to impact people in a meaningful way. Contact us if you need help getting started.

 

Hope to see you at the Laundromat!

 

(post contributed by Cobblestone Project intern Max Hill)

Feel the Love

Can you feel the love?

The Laundry Love project continues to touch hearts by providing laundry services for folks in need throughout NWA.

Augusta Fields wrote a touching article about the many people who have been helped by Laundry Love in Northwest Arkansas. Please note that the laundromat in Fayetteville is Kamp Laundromat located at 549 W. 15th Street, just west of the intersection with 71 Business/ S. School Avenue.

From her article, "Laundry Love is a national initiative, but the Cobblestone Project, a nonprofit group that has a “community without need” motto, started the four northwest Arkansas projects six years ago, said Jennifer Watts, the executive director for Cobblestone. Other projects are based in Siloam Springs, Springdale and Rogers."

To learn more about the people served by Laundry Love, read Augusta's article called Laundry Love Helps NWA Homeless.

Beyond providing clean laundry, Laundry Love helps build relationships and community for everyone involved. Both patrons and volunteers speak of the friendships built as they give and receive services. The four local laundry locations are supported by volunteers and partners like NWAMotherlode, a blog for mothers, who continue to give generously.

If you would like to learn more, or volunteer, please visit our volunteer page.

Thanks for caring!

Laundry Love Adds Up

The impact of Laundry Love on local communities continues to add up.

Did you know that our local Laundry Love projects provide over 3700 loads of clean laundry for about 3000 people each year, just in NWA? Laundry Love is a national initiative with projects all over the country.

And all that clean laundry is provided by volunteers and organizations who give of their time and resources. Thanks to the generous support from four local laundromats who open their doors, numerous volunteers and many organizations who fundraise and donate, Serve NWA's local Laundry Love projects continue to serve the people in need around NWA.

To learn more about the local impact of this wonderful project, read The Arkansas Traveler article called Laundry Love Washes Clothes and Hearts.

Or, visit our Laundry Love page to learn more about the project.

Thanks for caring in NWA.

“Loads Raised for Laundry Love”

When we received a phone call from NWAMotherlode, we were overwhelmed and extremely grateful. If you don't know about NWAMotherlode, you need to know. NWAMotherlode was created  to give moms in Northwest Arkansas a fun place to get together online to read, laugh and compare notes on motherhood. This year, they hosted their first  Mom Prom, a HUGE girls’ night out for moms and women and wanted to benefit Laundry Love Project. The party went so well they plan on making this an annual event.  

On May 4th, 330 women gathered in Springdale to celebrate NWA Mom Prom.  Friends gathered and enjoyed great food, drinks, music and dancing, raffles for fun luxuries and gift-baskets, and an obscene amount of laughter.  Attendees were welcomed on the red carpet and photographed with some of the popular entertainers of our day including Ryan Gosling, Adam Levine, George Clooney, and Channing Tatum.  As the Mom's proceeded into the ballroom, they were welcomed by upbeat dance music, lavish "girly" décor, the hue of pink lights and a ridiculously fun atmosphere.

The creators of NWAMotherlode wanted to highlight the importance of making a difference in our community.  They generously chose the Laundry Love Project to receive the proceeds from this event.

On behalf of Laundry Love, I (Stephanie) was thrilled to share the vision of creating "a Community Without Need" through the amazing initiative of the LLP. I was able to share the reason Laundry Love exists, the need that exists in our community, and provide a way for momma's alike to get involved in solving this issue.

I am thankful to all of the women who came, listened and participated in such an incredible evening.  Each person can truly change the world, even one load of laundry at a time. These Mommas were able to raise $3,000 for our Laundry Love initiative!  We invite you to change the world with us!  Sign up to volunteer at one of our upcoming Laundry Love Events.

A special thanks to Gwen Rockwood and Shannon Magsam. Also thanks to Lisa Mac Photography for the great pictures!

Art in the Park- 6 Months!

Today's post comes from Chloe Seal, initiative leader of 3 Bags in 2 Days. Art in the Park is a one-a-month event in Walker Park in South Fayetteville. We invite the under-resourced in our area to come to the park and to paint. We provide all the art supplies and serve dinner as well. People can come for a few hours and just be. People can come and let out whatever is going on in their lives and have a chance to freely express themselves through painting.  

Tonight was so special. 6 months into Art in the Park and I couldn’t be any more in love. As if I’m not already borderline obsessed with it, tonight was something incredible. I can’t really put words to it or explain why it was so different. Every month it just seems to find it’s rhythm a little better and people start to feel truly welcome.

The best I can try to communicate about tonight would be the rich, deep community that could be felt. People came to paint and to eat, but the evidence of community and relationships could be felt by all. There was just a presence of calmness, trust, and abounding love. After all was said and done, a few of us looked at each other with the same thoughts of….wow. How on earth did Art in the Park come to be the way it was tonight? How did this incredible community come together in one place the way it did? How did art truly bring us all together?

I think this sense of community carried on through every avenue. People’s canvases seemed more vibrant than usual. The food seemed extra yummy. People clapped and cheered even when someone else won the duffle bag in the raffle. People helped each other get more paint or carry their stuff to the table. People laughed louder than ever. People encouraged others more than usual. New friendships were formed. 150 canvases were made beautiful. 120 lives changed. 120 people were just able to love and be loved. 

It was the best example of community that I have ever seen. Truly putting others first in a way that I have never witnessed before. A random, broken, overlooked, ragged and simply beautiful group of misfits (myself included) has taught me more about life and people that I could have ever imagined.

Beyond Laundry

Many times, we are unable to capture the amazing things that happen at Laundry Love NWA. Currently, we operate 4 Laundry Loves in Northwest Arkansas. We have selfless families who continually give up their Fridays to help our community. Our volunteers always look beyond doing laundry  to hearing and sharing stories with those engaged in Laundry Love. When you participate in LLP you easily see the relationships that have been formed outside the walls of the laundromats. Recently, the Springdale edition of Laundry Love saw a need beyond laundry, and helped provide local students with school supplies. This story comes from our Springdale Laundry Love Coordinator, Lindsey Kelley:

Laundry Love Project Springdale serves people on the East side of  Springdale. We serve around 24 families every month, many that have students in the Public School System. The students range from elementary to high school and cover over 5 different schools. We serve among the poorest population in Springdale, and possibly Northwest Arkansas.  We knew that there was a HUGE need to provide school supplies to the families.  Thankfully, we had a donation given to us that allowed us to purchase 30 backpacks and fill them with necessary school supplies.  We passed out a backpack to each school age kid that was there and were even able to send a few home with families that did not have their kids with them.  The families were very grateful!  The smiles on the kids faces were priceless.  Several of the kids proudly wore their backpacks around the laundry mat and did not take them off. It's such a small gesture on our part, but impacts these kids (and their families) profoundly.  We will definitely serve the families in this way every year. This was a wonderful experience for the volunteers as well!  There is nothing better than being able to witness the pride a child feels when receiving their new backpack! We are thankful for those who helped make this possible.

We know that dignity can come from  not only washing clothes, but also giving something as small as a new backpack. We believe every person, family, and  student possesses worth and when we are able to aid in this- it is an amazing experience of true community.

The story of Laundry Love is a powerful one, and if you haven't had a chance to hear it- we encourage you to. We are honored and humbled to be a part of this larger story of cleaning the clothes of those living in poverty and converting laundromats into hubs of relief to those around us. Thank you for helping us meet a need and striving towards, "A community without need."

Cobblestone heads to D.C.

 

Last week, Cobblestone participated in a forum at the White House. We received an invitation from the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, the Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation, and the Office of Public Engagement to participate in a meeting to discuss the important role that social innovators play in expanding opportunity and addressing social issues. We were so honored and excited to be a part of this, and loved getting to meet some true world-changers.

Faith-based social innovators from all over the country came together for this event. The day consisted of panels, group discussions, and input from Senior Administration Officals. We explored how “faith-based organizations are creating innovative models and entrepreneurial ventures to make a positive impact on our economy and our society, often while serving our most vulnerable communities.”

 

 

 

 

Thanks to Joshua DuBois  & Jonathan Greenblatt  for hosting such an amazing group of people. The impact of their work was evident by the many groups that were represented during the meeting. People from different backgrounds, faiths, and passions gathered together to address social issues. The common denominators were the needs of our world, and the craving for sustainability in meeting those needs in communities around the country.

 

 

(Board members, founders, and team inside The White House)

 

 

A few things we took away from this meeting:

1.The impact local communities have as it relates to social justice issues. Communities are taking care of communities in a beautiful way all over the nation. We walked away proud and honored of what our community is doing in Northwest Arkansas. We are humbled to be a small part of a bigger movement within our community.

2. Collaboration is STILL key. We talk frequently about collaboration, but the importance of this virtue was reiterated while we were in D.C. This is a good reminder to engage with those in our community who fighting with us on ending issues of social injustice.

3. The people who are truly making a difference don't go unnoticed or unappreciated.

We want to take this time to thank each one of you for making this possible. This opportunity was a reflection of all of the hard work you have done, and we are extremely grateful for your dedication and commitment to Cobblestone. We are humbled by the families and individuals who have paved the way for social innovation in NW Arkansas. Thank you for continuing to strive towards " A Community without Need."