The May 28 presenter to the Rotary Club of Heber Springs was Karen Wooten, Director of the Arkansas Dream Center in Heber Springs. The Dream Center started as an outreach of New Life Church in Little Rock. Today there are 17 Dream Centers across the state. Ms. Wooten gave a bit of the history of the Heber Springs center, and spoke of the programs provided since the beginning. These programs have included after school tutoring, providing weekend food bags, the Summer Food for Good program and a food pantry to help the food insecure, and the annual Christmas mall for needy families. The Christmas Mall served 280 families in 2018.
Currently the Dream Center continues all of these programs with the exception of the Food for Good program, with the following additions: Block Parties building fellowship in 4 different neighborhoods all summer, Shut-in services bringing food to those who are home bound, a garden project to provide fresh vegetables to the food pantry, the annual Winter Coat Drive, and annual ThankServing (Thanksgiving) Meal. They also host a vendor space at Seven Springs Marketplace to raise funds to run the programs, and share resources with other nonprofits in the area to assist their clients with food, clothing, furniture and other needs.
The Dream Center has recently upgraded their kitchen facilities to allow them to cook and serve out of the kitchen and provide classes. A recently completed class taught diabetics how to manage their disease.
Looking ahead, the Center has plans to develop and participate in the City Serve model, serving as a point of distribution for resources churches throughout the area, with the idea of being able to work together to accomplish more and serving those populations with the greatest need.
The Rotary Club of Heber Springs meets each Tuesday at noon on the campus of ASU Heber Springs. Visitors and prospective members are welcome. For more information on joining this service organization, contact membership chair Julie Turney at 501-206-6855.