St. Joseph's Mercy Health System confronted the problem of child abuse head on in the spring of 2003 by founding the Advocacy Center, Arkansas' first and only hospital-based facility for child abuse and neglect. ln keeping with a St. Joseph's Mercy tradition of providing health care with compassion and Christian values, the Center's highly-trained professionals employed a child-focused, child-friendly approach while serving 207 patients in its first year.
Services at the Advocacy Center include forensic interviewing, medical examinations, child advocacy, prevention programs, trainings, and public awareness. The Center also features a children's healing refuge called Chloe's Garden. In keeping with the mission of the Sisters of Mercy, all services are free to the families of Garland and surrounding counties.
The mission of Catholic Charities of Arkansas (CCA) is rooted in the challenge of the gospel: to serve with dignity and respect persons who are poor or marginalized; to advocate on behalf of the most vulnerable; and to actively promote charity, justice, and the sanctity of life in the Church and in the community.
CCA Ministries and Services
- Alcohol and Drug Ministry
- Catholic Adoption Services
- Catholic Campaign for Human Development
- Catholic Charities Immigration Services — Little Rock
- Catholic Charities Immigration Services —Springdale
- Catholic Relief Services
- Disaster Response Services
- Parish Social Ministry Office
- Parish Emergency Assistance
- Prison Ministry
- Refugee Resettlement Office
- Social Action Office
- Westside Free Medical Clinic
Project Rachel operates as a network of healing composed of specially-trained care givers which may include priests, deacons, sisters, lay staff and volunteers, mental health professionals, spiritual directors, mentors, chaplains and others, such as medical personnel. These individuals, often working as a team, provide direct care to women, men, and adolescents who have been touched by an abortion loss, enabling them to grieve, receive forgiveness, and find peace. Although most dioceses use the name Project Rachel, some programs are named differently. In addition to individualized counseling, some programs include support groups and retreats. Founded in 1984 by Victoria Thorn in Milwaukee, today Project Rachel programs can be found in about 150 Catholic dioceses in the United States, as well as in dioceses in other countries.
A single phone call or e-mail to a Project Rachel office puts one in touch with those who can help. Also, the National Office of Post-Abortion Reconciliation and Healing (NOPARH) sponsors a nationwide referral service for those seeking help after abortion. For a referral contact NOPARH at 800.5WE.CARE, or access its website at http://www.noparh.org.
In the Diocese of Little Rock, Project Rachel is a ministry of the Respect Life Office. For details, call (501) 664-0340, ext. 357. Anne Dierks, a parishioner in the Sacred Heart of Jesus Church, is the coordinator.
First Step began in Hot Springs in 1958 with a group of parents, civic leaders, and health professionals who recognized the need for services within the local community for individuals with special needs. Their passion and dedication first brought help to children with developmental disabilities. Beginning with only 7 students, the services soon reached beyond the borders of Hot Springs and eventually expanded to include services for adults as well as children.
Today, First Step aims to reach children and adults with developmental delays and disabilities by offering classes, therapies, and services to help each individual reach his or her full potential.
In 1980 First Step was one of the first providers in Arkansas to offer early intervention for infants through a special grant program. When Pam Bland came on board as executive director in 1981, she made it a permanent service offered by First Step. Today, this program is offered nationwide.
Serving approximately 1700 consumers (clients) in 27 Arkansas counties, First Step has been a member agency of the United Way of Garland County for more than 40 years.
National Camps for Blind Children/Adults (USA) and National Camps for the Blind (Canada) are affiliated with Christian Record Services. This project began in 1967 with a single camp at Kulaqua in High Springs, Florida. The camping program has been such a success that now two dozen camps are operated at various locations across the United States and Canada. Since its organization, over 43,000 campers have attended these unusual camps.
Each camp is scheduled at a well-equipped site, chosen especially for the standard of excellence and geographical location.
Committed staff and counselors are trained to meet the needs of the blind campers. Medical personnel are on duty 24 hours a day. Emergency care is available when needed.
The camps are free - thanks to gifts from generous donors - to those who are ages 9 - 65 and whose corrected vision is no better than 20/200. However, a processing fee of $35 per camper is required.
Special Olympics Arkansas is a non-profit organization, providing approximately 14,000 individuals with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to excel. The direction of the program flows through numerous volunteers. Arkansas is divided into 17 areas, each headed by a volunteer Area Director and various volunteers serving on team management committees. The Area Directors support all the local events in their area.
Originating in 1970, Arkansas held its first Summer Games with 283 athletes competing in various track and field events and has grown to a competition program for athletes wanting to train and compete in athletics, aquatics, softball, volleyball, unified football, powerlifting, bocce and cycling. Other Special Olympics Arkansas sports include: basketball, bowling, ice speed and figure skating, floor hockey and gymnastics.
Special Olympians are athletes, and just like other successful athletes, they need to be properly trained. The program is proud to have access to the finest national training plan ever. Certification in Special Olympics coaching is offered in all official sports. Certification is open to anyone interested in becoming a Nationally Certified Special Olympics Coach. A primary goal is to properly train the special athletes by training their coaches first. Training workshops are held each year, in all areas of the state.
Mission: A community based, non-profit organization dedicated to the support of the family in developing moral values, responsibility, and character in young people.
History: in 1991, Paul Bewie, then District Governor with Kiwanis International and resident of Hot Springs Village, saw a saw a critical need for a safe place for children to go after school as their parents were still working. Paul motivated dedicated parents, civic clubs, churches, business representatives, and local residents to join together in a cooperative effort to raise over one million dollars in cash and in-kind donations to create "The Positive Place for Kids" in the North Garland County area. In the fall of 1991, thirty-five acres of land was purchased on Highway 7, just north of Hot Springs Village, and the North Garland County Youth Center was organized.
Abba House was established by the Catholic Diocese of Little Rock in 1981 to offer a home to pregnant women and their children who have no place to go. It also serves as an emergency shelter for homeless women. The thirteen-bed facility in Little Rock provides shelter, food, and clothing for the women, who may stay two to six weeks after giving birth until they find a place to live. The emergency shelter is available to the homeless for up to three weeks. The Missionaries of Charity sisters, the religious order established by Mother Teresa of Calcutta, have run Abba House since 1983. Four of the sisters live in a convent next to the shelter on South Oak Street. The charity relies completely on donations.
Abba House was among the first ministries developed in the Little Rock diocese to give women an alternative to abortion after abortion was legalized by the U.S. Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade on January 22, 1973. The idea for Abba House came from Father Joseph Nielson, OCD, who had begun praying outside abortion clinics in Little Rock in the 1970s. Nielson began reaching out to women entering the clinic and realized that many of them did not have the resources to care for their babies and might not choose abortion if that were not the case. By May 1979, Nielson began bringing homeless pregnant women to the home of fellow activist Patricia Grabher for shelter. Assisted by several volunteers, the women received care through their pregnancies and help finding a place to live after giving birth.
Dianne M. Toomer is President and Sarah Holmes is Director of the Center.
In 2009 the Center had 799 client visits, performed 343 pregnancy tests, and saved 37 lives (4 over the phone). There were over 2,000 conversations about pregnancy and parenting, and 1,832 items were given from the Mommy Store.
On September 30, 2009, Council 10208 donated $750 in support of the mission of St. Joseph's Helpers.