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Benefiting teens

Conway Cradle Care to host fashion show, raffle on Saturday

By Carol Rolf/Contributing Writer

This article was published August 7, 2014 at 12:00 a.m.

diana-byrd-director-of-conway-cradle-care-is-shown-with-a-group-of-items-that-will-be-part-of-the-upcoming-auction-and-fashion-show

Diana Byrd, director of Conway Cradle Care, is shown with a group of items that will be part of the upcoming auction and fashion show.

With the beginning of another school year approaching, Conway Cradle Care will host its fourth annual Tots to Teens and Teachers Fashion Show and Raffle from 1-4 p.m. Saturday.

Doors will open at 12:30 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall of the First Presbyterian Church, 2400 Prince St.

Diana Byrd, executive director of Conway Cradle Care, said tickets to the fundraising event are $10 in advance or $15 at the door. Children 12 and under will be admitted free.

Advance tickets may be purchased from board members or Friends of Cradle Care, online at www.cradlecare.org, or by calling Conway Cradle Care at (501) 730-0017 or First Presbyterian Church at (501) 329-6483.

Byrd said proceeds from the event will benefit Conway Cradle Care, which assists pregnant and parenting teens in Faulkner County in completing their high school education. She said the mission of the organization is “to help teens that become pregnant or have a child complete their education by supporting their academic and emotional needs, as well as the developmental needs of their children.”

Glenda Schmidt is chairwoman of the planning committee for Saturday’s event, which will feature back-to-school fashions provided by local retailers that will be appropriate for tots, teens and teachers. Local students and teachers will serve as models.

In addition to the fashion show, Byrd said, the event will include refreshments, entertainment, raffle and silent-auction items, a 50/50 raffle and drawings for kids up to 12. Raffle tickets are $1 each for the raffle items and $5 for the 50/50 raffle. There is no cost to bid on the silent-auction items.

Byrd said the raffle and silent auction “offer something for everyone.”

Among the silent-auction items are a tour for four of P. Allen Smith’s garden home at Moss Mountain, including lunch, valued at $480; a pair of Raymond Hak’s green quartz and white topaz earrings set in rose silver, valued at $450; and a pair of 42-inch faux antique lamps, valued at $460.

Among the raffle offerings are tickets to a variety of activities, Razorback items, articles from Hendrix College and the University of Central Arkansas, and a “mystery box” filled with various pieces.

Darbi Blencowe, who is a graduate of the Conway Cradle Care program and is now a member of its board of directors, will give welcoming remarks at 1 p.m. and serve as master of ceremonies for the program.

The Basso Voce Tuba Quartet will present a musical program at 1:15.

Anthony McMullen, president of the Conway Cradle Care Board of Directors, will present a keyboard program and closing remarks at 3:15.

Drawings for kids’ items and presentations of the fashions will be interspersed in the program, which will conclude at approximately 3:30 with the final kids’ drawing and the announcement of raffle and silent-auction winners.

“This is our biggest fundraiser,” Byrd said, noting that Cradle Care is a United Way of Central Arkansas agency. “We raised about $10,000 at last year’s event. That included sponsorships on a variety of levels.”

Conway Cradle Care is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and is also supported by the AT&T High School Success Special Grants Program; the Community Foundation of Faulkner County; First Presbyterian Church; and individuals, churches and businesses.

Byrd said Conway Cradle Care was established in 1995. She came on board as a teacher of toddlers in 1998, and in 2000, she became the executive director.

Byrd said Conway Cradle Care offers two programs — early-childhood development, and child care and mentoring.

The state-certified child care facility, which is next door to Conway High School, is for infants and toddlers, ages 6 weeks to 3 years, who are the children of teens in Faulkner County. The staff includes two full-time teachers and one part-time teacher.

“We also have a lot of volunteers who come and help on a regular basis,” Byrd said. “We couldn’t do without these faithful volunteers.”

Byrd said the majority of the children in the facility are of students who attend Conway High School.

“We try to find local, state-certified child care facilities for students that we may serve in the Vilonia, Mayflower, Greenbrier or Guy-Perkins school districts,” Byrd said.

Byrd said the mentoring program, which is for males as well as females, offers weekly one-on-one confidential mentoring sessions; bi-weekly parenting-group meetings; monthly peer-group luncheons; educational forums stressing the importance of finishing high school, in spite of the stresses of having a child; and emergency consultations to help with unexpected, immediate difficulties.

Byrd said Conway Cradle Care served 58 students in the last school year.

“That included 40 high school students across the county and 18 children in child care here in Conway and across the county,” she said.

“And in May of this year, we had 14 students out of 17 enrolled in our program that graduated [from high school],” Byrd said. “That is 82 percent. The national average is 40 percent. We are really proud of that.”

The child care service is not free, Byrd said, but parents are able to apply for vouchers from the state of Arkansas to help with the cost. There is no cost for the mentoring program.

“Teen pregnancy is controversial,” Byrd said. “But it is here.

“If you provide services and help for these teens, you are investing in the future of the community. This is why it is so important for people to support us.”

Byrd said Conway Cradle Care is taking applications for the early-childhood-development center. “Children 6 weeks to 24 months are eligible to attend,” Byrd said. “Teen parents must be enrolled in school to be eligible for child care services. We have spaces available in the toddler room, ages 12 to 24 months, for college and community members.”

Byrd said the first day the center will be open is Aug. 18. Hours are 7:40 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Monday through Friday.

For more information on picking up an application, call First Presbyterian Church at (501) 730-0017.

Byrd said the mentoring services are open to teen parents and expectant parents, and all ages are invited to attend the parent/life skills meetings.

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