Junior Auxiliary of Searcy celebrates 50 years

By Jeanni Brosius Published April 1, 2012 at 2:46 a.m.
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— Ruby Nell Moye joined the Junior Auxiliary of Searcy in 1962 in hopes of contributing to her community. Moye is now a lifetime member of the nonprofit organization, which focuses its endeavors on the children of White County.

This year, the Searcy chapter is celebrating 50 years of service to White County. Junior Auxiliary is a national nonprofit organization, and its members are encouraged to provide charitable services that benefit their communities, with particular emphasis on children.

“Back then, we didn’t take [members] who worked,” Moye said about when she first joined. “We had to do everything during the day, but that’s changed. It seems like everybody works now.”

Moye said the group of philanthropic women started the Sunshine School in Searcy. It began in 1965 as a mom’s-day-out respite, and now the school has 60 developmentally challenged students and a waiting list that keeps getting longer.

“We had five little kids that we didn’t know what to do with,” Moye said with a laugh, “but we loved them and taught them how to do things, like eat a cookie one bite at a time.”

In order to keep up with the needs of the students and those on the waiting list, the Sunshine School added a new facility on Airport Loop. The $1.6 million project was recently completed.

Besides the Sunshine School, Moye said, she believes a clinic for disabled children has been one of the most rewarding projects of her Junior Auxiliary career.

During the late ’60s or early ’70s, the women hosted a clinic for disabled children who lived in White County. She said families would gather at First Methodist Church in Searcy, and doctors would volunteer to come in and see the children four times a year.

“We fed the families as they waited to see the doctors,” Moye said. “Some of those people had never seen a doctor.”

During Moye’s time as auxiliary member, the group also started the concession stand for youth baseball teams in Searcy, and the money raised went back into the baseball program.

“We would cook hamburgers and sold cold drinks,” she said. “It must have been 140 degrees in that concrete building. We’d go home covered in grease from head to toe.”

Emily Boyd is in her second year in Junior Auxiliary. She said she had heard about the projects the group carried out to benefit children, and she wanted to become a part of the organization.

“I had lived in Searcy for 5 1/2 years, and it was a way to connect with women who were in my place in life,” Boyd said. “There are so many programs we are involved in that I didn’t even know about.”

Boyd said one of the most rewarding aspects of being an auxiliary member is seeing the faces of the children who get much-needed clothing, school supplies and many other items.

“I feel very blessed to be in our chapter; it’s very family oriented,” she said. “I can take my newborn baby to the next meeting, and no one thinks twice about it.”

Betsy Bailey is an associate member, which means she has given a minimum of five years of service to the organization. She said she is still active in the projects.

“In fact, last week I sat in on a panel and gave a history of Junior Auxiliary to the new provisional class,” Bailey said.

As the school and community coordinator for the Searcy Public Schools, Bailey said she sees firsthand what Junior Auxiliary does for the children of the district.

“I work with JA with my job, and they provide so many resources for our children,” Bailey said. “If they need a coat or a backpack, someone is there with one.”

Junior Auxiliary members also go into Searcy schools to talk with third-graders about the Child Lure program, which teaches children about preventing abduction.

To learn more about Junior Auxiliary, visit najanet.org.

Staff writer Jeanni Brosius can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or jbrosius@arkansasonline.com.

Three Rivers Edition Writer Jeanni Brosius can be reached at 501-244-4307 or jbrosius@arkansasonline.com.

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