Chuck Simmons, senior vice president and executive broker for Coldwell Banker, first got involved with volunteering for Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families around four years ago with the encouragement of close friend Christine Harness Hartman, who works for the organization.
"They make a huge difference in children's lives from health insurance to creating a better foster care system," says Simmons. "They make sure kids are a priority. I felt really passionate about the mission.
Who: Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families
When: 4 p.m. Jan. 26
Where: John Q. Hammons Center, 3303 S. Pinnacle Pkwy., Rogers
Information: (479) 927-9800
"We work to provide children with opportunities that can help them thrive, particularly kids who have fewer opportunities based on where they live or their families' economic situation," Northwest Arkansas AACF director Laura Kellams says. "We want to make sure all kids have the resources to succeed, and we work through the public policy process ... to make sure that the state is investing in programs like ARKids First, better juvenile justice programs, a better foster care system, etc."
"Kids' issues aren't partisan and shouldn't be," adds Missy Darwin Kincaid, AACF director of development. " Arkansas Advocates serves as a voice for all kids at the Capitol."
This year, Simmons is acting as the chairman for the Northwest Arkansas Soup Sunday Committee. Soup Sunday is AACF's long-running fundraiser -- the Northwest Arkansas version celebrates its 19th year in 2020, although the original Little Rock event has been happening for decades beyond that -- and it has become a tradition for many families in the area. With the help of presenting sponsor Endeavor Foundation, the event features a wide variety of soups from more than 30 restaurants and chefs from such notable area establishments like The Preacher's Son, The Hive, Vetro 1925, Hugo's, Bordinos, Louise, Pressroom and CO-OP, creating an opportunity for diners to try a wide variety of samples from all over the region.
"It is a super family friendly atmosphere," says Simmons. "It brings in every demographic from Northwest Arkansas. [Retirement community] Butterfield [Trail Village] brings a bus. We have families with kids attend. Young professionals who want to sample the soups -- everyone is there."
Veterans of the event have figured out a novel way to maximize the number of soups they can sample in one trip around the room: They bring muffin tins to hold the sample cups. Longtime Soup Sunday fans are passionate -- you'll even see them holding muffin tins that they've painted and decorated in commemoration of the event.
Though the soup is the main attraction, it's far from the only one. The event boasts an auction that will include luxe vacation packages to Rosemary Beach, Fla.; Mexico; and Costa Rica. Live music will be provided by the Cocktail Club and -- new this year -- a Kid Zone, sponsored by Mercy Hospital, will give the younger set additional activities to keep them engaged, including some cultural activities from the Arkansas Coalition of the Marshallese.
All of the fun, frivolity and delicious soups add up to a good cause since the event is one of AACF's biggest fundraisers of the year. For Simmons and all of the other volunteers, that fact makes all of the hard work worth it.
"This is my way of helping the kids," he says.
NAN Profiles on 01/19/2020