Residents give 25 years of help in 2011

By Wayne Bryan Originally Published November 25, 2012 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated November 23, 2012 at 9:04 a.m.
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— The governor’s office, the Arkansas Municipal League and the Arkansas Department of Human Services have selected the city of Benton for designation as an Arkansas Volunteer Community of the Year.

The Saline County seat is one of only 12 communities chosen for the recognition this year for residents’ volunteer services during 2011. Benton is the only city in the Tri-Lakes region given the award.

“This is the fourth year in a row that Benton has been honored to receive this award due to the efforts of so many wonderful volunteers in our community,” Benton Mayor David Mattingly said.

According to a report from the mayor’s office, “the hearts of [Benton’s] volunteers get bigger every year.”

The report from Tina Coston, administrative assistant for the mayor’s office, shows Benton residents logged more than 221,160.5 volunteer hours during 2011. That adds up to more than 25 years, three months and two weeks of dedication and work contributed to the community.

Coston’s report gave special recognition to several community groups for their efforts on behalf of their fellow citizens.

During 2011, Vines and Branches, a faith-based ministry, helped more than “6,800 people who were affected by sexual and domestic violence, economic hardships, natural disasters, hunger, violent crime, homelessness, death and suicide.”

When a major power outage struck Benton, the organization provided meals for utility workers who labored for more than 24 hours to restore power to the entire city, the report said. The ministry also provided water to many Benton residents during the hot summer days when power was off.

The Christian Community Care Clinic logged 7,823 hours with 388 volunteers providing medical care for residents without health insurance who were unable to pay for routine medical care, the report states. The clinic also started a new diabetes-education program that includes nutrition classes.

Habitat for Humanity of Saline County built homes for families unable to afford one of their own, with 614 volunteers contributing 15,361 hours.

Also recognized in the report were the Benton Civitan Club for their preschool services, an adult program and residential services to the community; the Central Arkansas Development Council; and the Saline County Library.

In addition, the report from Coston showed 21,000 hours of volunteering from members of the Greater Benton Chamber of Commerce, more than 19,000 volunteer hours contributed by members of the Benton Public Schools and 15,000 volunteer hours to help feed and aid the hungry from only 100 dedicated members of CJCOHN, the Church Joint Council on Human Needs.

Leading all volunteers in the community were the Royal Players, an

all-volunteer troupe of performers and theater-craft contributors who present a season of shows each year in the Royal Theater, a historic building in downtown Benton that the organization also preserved and restored.

“As Benton grows, we continue to have some of the best volunteers in the state, and their willingness to lend a hand never wavers,” Coston said in the report.

She said the volunteer hours increased by more than 10 percent from the previous year.

The mayor thanked Coston for coordinating the report to the state’s Human Services

Division of Community

Service and Nonprofit Support.

“I didn’t do anything but collect the hours and total them up,” she said. “The people of Benton did the work, and we are all so proud.”

The award will be presented to Benton officials during the Arkansas Municipal League Winter Conference in Little Rock on Jan. 17. The Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department provides road signs announcing the award-winning volunteer cities, and Benton’s signs have been in place for three years.

Staff writer Wayne Bryan can be reached at (501) 244-4460 or wbryan@arkansasonline.com.

Tri-Lakes Edition Writer Wayne Bryan can be reached at 501-244-4460 or wbryan@arkansasonline.com.

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