After 30 years in education — 15 teaching fifth grade and 15 as a middle-school librarian — Jan Haney has spent the eight years after she retired focusing on two passions: her work with Ash Flat Church of Christ and raising breast cancer awareness.
Haney and her husband, Jim, moved to Ash Flat in 1975 when Jan was pregnant with their first child. Her husband had taken an opportunity to coach basketball at Highland High School, and the location became a permanent one for the growing family.
“We liked it so much here we decided we wanted to stay,” Haney said. “We wanted to raise our family here.”
As their family expanded and their two daughters grew up, Haney taught at Cave City Middle School for 3 1/2 years, then moved to Highland Middle School, where she first taught fifth grade, then served as librarian for the rest of her career.
Now, Haney said, she is enjoying retirement by pursuing her passions without having to stress out about time constraints.
One of her passions is breast cancer awareness. Although she has never had breast cancer, Haney said, she has had friends go through it, and she works hard to support them. She has participated in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure and has stood beside women in her church who have had breast cancer.
“That’s just something I feel strongly about, that we all ought to do what we can to make people aware of the things that we can do as far as prevention,” she said.
Haney’s involvement with Ash Flat Church of Christ is her other passion, and for several years, she and 10 other members have run a women’s conference that attracts up to 800 women to listen to a speaker and fellowship with one another for a weekend.
“The idea was to bring a quality event to a small area,” she said. “Our women in a rural area don’t have the funds or the time to go to some of these big conferences. That was our basis — providing something really nice in this area.”
In 2008, Haney and other women at the church began to pray about such an event. She said that after they prayed and planned a little bit, they brought their idea to the elders of the church, who gave their blessing.
The Rock This House Women’s Conference was born and launched its first conference in 2009, and the first year, 350 women attended the conference to hear author and musician Kelly Minter.
Since then, the women have formed a 501(c)(3) around the event. Haney sits on the board of that organization, and she helps find and book speakers for the annual event.
“I’m not in any way responsible for everything that goes on,” she said. “Everybody has a function, and everyone works well together.”
As for Haney’s responsibility, she takes suggestions from previous years and looks for speakers who will be a spiritual encouragement for attendees.
“We just want to know that they are really and truly committed to what they teach,” she said.
This year’s speaker relates back to Haney’s affection for breast cancer survivors. Featured speaker Margaret Feinberg found out she had breast cancer right after she was booked for the event, but she is now doing well and will be in Ash Flat in July.
Last year, Rock This House sold out with 800 women attending, and Haney said the event provides both a spiritual and economic boost for the area.
“Last year we had people from Oklahoma, Texas, Tennessee and Missouri, in addition to Arkansas,” she said. “There were no hotel rooms available. It’s a good boost for the area.”
In addition to sitting on the board and bringing in the speaker, Haney sings in the a cappella group Amazed that was developed out of the conference.
“People ask us all the time to perform, but there are eight of us, and it’s hard to coordinate,” she said.
Singing soprano in the group, Haney’s participation in Amazed mirrors some of her experiences as a student at Arkansas College, now Lyon College, in Batesville.
“I sang with the Arkansas College Lassies,” she said. “So I have always kind of dabbled in singing.”
As the time draws near for the 2014 Rock This House conference, Haney said, she is thankful for the opportunity to host and help organize an impactful event.
The Rock This House conference will take place July 25 and 26 at Ash Flat Church of Christ. Tickets range from $10 to $20 and include two meals. More information can be obtained by calling the church office at (870) 994-2430.
Staff writer Angela Spencer can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or firstname.lastname@example.org.