Suzanne Gonzales of Conway said about 75 volunteers helped paint and refurbish mobile homes for her ministry, but she also desperately needs materials.
“They did the painting on the trailers on the trim on the outside and painting on the interiors, and they also did some yardwork,” Gonzalez said. “It made a big difference. They look homier.”
Gonzales, a former addict, founded Stand Together And No Drugs. She and volunteers are renovating six trailers in the Glen Echo Mobile Home Park in Conway to use for homeless women, particularly those just coming out of jail. The mobile homes were donated by the owner of the Glen Echo mobile-home park, she said.
One mobile home is being used for the women while the others are being renovated.
The volunteers participated April 12 as part of The Big Event, a nationwide day of community service. The volunteers for STAND included University of Central Arkansas students; volunteers from Habitat for Humanity of Faulkner County and Mosaic Church; and drug-court participants, Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez said people have been generous to donate clothes and other items, but she needs money and supplies to complete the renovations.
“We need drywall, insulation, screens for windows, two-by-fours to build a ramp for wheelchairs, vinyl flooring, … paint, every kind of screw and nail you can think of,” she said. “We have three box springs, but we’re looking for twin-sized mattresses. We’re also looking for bunk beds.”
Gonzalez said one of the women who lives in the STAND shelter has two children, ages 9 and 11.
She said STAND has started an adopt-a-room program.
“Instead of adopting a whole trailer — I know that can be overwhelming for people — maybe a church or organization or community can say, ‘Hey, we’re going to tackle a room,’” Gonzalez said.
Sophomore Kaitlyn Thompson, 19, of Clarksville was coordinator of The Big Event for UCA.
She said the two-day event was a “big undertaking.” Volunteers worked on 17 on-campus projects April 11, she said, and 23 projects April 12.
“I’m a part of SGA (the Student Government
Association), and we went to a conference … at Texas A&M last year,” Thompson said. “They have a Big Event, and theirs is very, very large — it’s been going on for something like 37 years. That’s where we got the idea from. We’ve actually been wanting to do The Big Event for several years.”
It was funded by the SGA and a few sponsors, she said. Although a couple of hardware stores donated materials, she said the SGA purchased tools, as well as T-shirts for UCA participants.
Students went to several locations to volunteer, including helping STAND work on the trailers, she said.
“I actually worked there,” Thompson said of the mobile-home park. “We provided all the tools for that, except the paint. We provided the paint brushes, rollers and students, of course. I think we sent around 40 volunteers there. We painted several of the trailers. All the students just broke up into groups. I feel like a lot of work got done because we had so many students and so many hands. It was awesome.”
Thompson also said she painted alongside Gonzalez, “so that was great.”
In addition to providing a shelter, STAND assists women with food, clothing and education and holds Bible studies and other classes to help build their self-esteem and empower them, Gonzalez said.
For more information about the program or to adopt a room or make a donation, call Gonzalez at (501) 504-9641, or email her at Stand.Suzanne@gmail.com.
Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or email@example.com.