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Carin Schoppmeyer: Celebration sparks hope, scholarships

Group delivers drive-up supplies by Carin Schoppmeyer | August 7, 2022 at 1:00 a.m.
Ashley Zalahan (from left), Spark of Hope Outstanding Individuals honorees Denton and Cathy Cole Seilhan, Marcheta Keefer and Tyler B. Clark, Single Parent Scholarship Fund of Northwest Arkansas, stand for a photo at Spark of Hope on July 28 at the Rogers Convention Center in Rogers. (Courtesy photo/SPSFNWA and Greg Moody)

More than 400 Single Parent Scholarship Fund of Northwest Arkansas backers joined the group July 28 at the Rogers Convention Center for the 20th annual Spark of Hope celebration to honor scholarship recipients and supporters. The benefit helped the group net more than $100,000.

Tyler B. Clark, chief executive officer, said: "Spark of Hope is an important celebration of our recipients and donors. We are also thrilled to honor those who are dedicated to advancing our mission. This event will help support our 145 scholars who will attending classes this fall."

Organizers say: "Spark of Hope celebrates the success of the SPSFNWA recipients and graduates, as well as honors supporters. The prestigious Spark of Hope awards [are] presented to the Individual Support, Community Partner and Corporate Support honorees for 2022."

This year's Spark of Hope honorees were:

Denton and Cathy Cole Seilhan -- Outstanding Individuals;

Arvest Bank Benton County -- Outstanding Corporation; and

Adventure Subaru -- Outstanding Community Partner.

Amanda Comer, scholarship alumna, shared with those gathered her journey as a single mother creating a better life for herself and her child."There is a saying that it takes a village, and the people I met here became part of my village. They understood what my life was like as a single parent. I knew I could reach out no matter what I needed. I gained friends, mentors and colleagues."

Current scholarship recipient, Melissa Johnson, spoke of her experiences with the nonprofit organization and the support provided while pursuing a path in higher education. "Thanks to the counseling services provided by Twyla at Single Parent, I have been able to work through these feelings of helplessness and know that I am not alone. She has taught me that I can change and control my emotional reactions even when the other party cannot. To have this kind of support within the program has been a game changer for mine and my son's lives."

Tommy Oakes and Carrissa Oakes shared their perspective of watching their mother's "educational journey and how it shaped and impacted" their lives.

The fund helps single parents in Benton, Carroll, Madison and Washington counties. Along with money for school, the group helps recipients with living expenses and provides a mentoring program and other supports for recipients and their families through graduation.

The group awards traditional scholarships, "for students seeking an associate, bachelor's, Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.), and licensure in cosmetology or massage therapy at approved institutions" along with healthcare career and vocational education scholarships "for students pursuing healthcare or professional certifications at approved institutions (NWTI, UAMS/Schmieding Center, Petra Allied Health, PRN, North Arkansas College or NWACC) and various courses at the University of Arkansas Global Campus."

The group helped scholarship recipients and their families off to a solid start of the school year with a Back-to-School drive-through event Aug. 4. Recipients and their families were able to pick up school supplies and mini-stipends to help with other school supplies.

Over the past 38 years, Single Parent Scholarship Fund of NWA given away 20,160 scholarships, totaling over $15.3 million dollars and impacting thousands of families.

For more event photos -- nwadg.com/photos/society.

Columnist Carin Schoppmeyer can be reached by email at cschoppmeyer@nwadg.com.

  photo  Danielle Dotson and Kelley Carey, Adventure Subaru representatives, accept the Spark of Hope Award for Outstanding Community Partner from Tyler B. Clark. (Courtesy photo/SPSFNWA and Greg Moody)
 
 
  photo  Brian Wood and Brad Crain, Arvest Bank Benton County representatives, accept the Spark of Hope Award for Outstanding Corporation from Tyler B. Clark. (Courtesy photo/SPSFNWA and Greg Moody)
 
 
  photo  Melissa Johnson, SPSFNWA scholarship recipient, and Katlyn Taylor, program director, stand for a photo at Spark of Hope. (Courtesy photo/SPSFNWA and Greg Moody)
 
 
  photo  Blake Pennington (from left), Meredith Lowry, Nicole Mozzoni and Liz Anderson attend Spark of Hope. (Courtesy photo/SPSFNWA and Greg Moody)
 
 
  photo  SPSFNWA board members Randy Werner (from left), Craig Overton, Shelle Summers and Brad Crain welcome backers for Spark of Hope. (Courtesy photo/SPSFNWA and Greg Moody)
 
 
  photo  Gina Peck (from left), Anthony Sumlin, Steven Hinds, Lori Walker and Krista Khone, SPSFNWA staff members and volunteers, help out at the Back-to-School drive-through event Aug. 4 at the nonprofit organization’s offices in Bentonville. (Courtesy photo/SPSFNWA and Greg Moody)
 
 
  photo  Children sport new backpacks at the SPSFNWA Back-to-School drive through event Aug. 4. (Courtesy photo/SPSFNWA and Greg Moody)
 
 
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