Our Work - Imagine of NWA, Inc.
Desarae Richardson, president of Imagine of NWA, Inc. has been involved in a homeless outreach since 2006 serving approximately 1,200 meals every year. Throughout this last four years the Desarae has volunteered through Seven Hills Homeless Shelter and worked directly with them to aide in feeding the less fortunate. DesaRae directed each feeding including the volunteer coordination, donations, meals preparation and serving process. Currently DesaRae has directed more than 20 feedings. DesaRae also works with Habitat for humanity, organizing a team of family and friends to volunteer their time. She has been on more than six builds in the last three years, volunteering eight hours each build. DesaRae also participates in multiple local fundraisers by organizing teams or volunteers and directing them in the fundraising or event coordination. Her list of charities is expansive to date she has volunteered with; Northwest Arkansas Children’s Shelter, Benton County Women’s Shelter, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Arkansas, Samaritan House, and the Salvation Army. DesaRae collects donations on behalf of these organizations and helps organize drives with each of the charities volunteer coordinators to meet specific needs to the best of her ability. DesaRae worked at the Benton County Sunshine School, a non- profit school for special needs children, from 2005- 2007. During that time DesaRae was a court appointed advocate for children (CASA) through Benton County Sunshine School and also volunteered with the respite program for special needs teenager and adults. She would go on respite retreats once a month as a counselor and helped care for special needs teenagers and young adults. DesaRae was trained by the state of AR for the lunch program and wrote the lunch schedule for Benton County Sunshine School each month following state mandated guidelines. DesaRae has worked in the local community for many years and has made many contacts in the non profit world of Northwest Arkansas and has personal relationships with many of them.
Both Jessica DuQuesne and Judy Parks, who are also board members of Imagine of NWA, Inc. have been involved in the homeless outreach since 2007 helping DesaRae each time she volunteers. Jessica and Judy have worked directly with DesaRae to create meals, organize teams, and participate in events throughout Northwest Arkansas. Both have worked at the Homeless shelter, habitat for humanity, and charity events numerous times. Jessica has organized a children’s sack lunch program to accompany the meals provided by DesaRae’s team, each person that comes to eat when they are volunteering also receive a sack lunch that was prepared by volunteering children. Jessica has overseen and directed the children in this project. Judy has worked with Habitat for humanity many times and cooks the meals for the homeless shelter when DesaRae and her team serve.
We believe that with the work we have done and our diverse experience in the community we can help women and children in NWA who are the fastest growing homeless sector.
We count on the support of Seven Hills Homeless Shelter director John Woodward and board member Kevin Fitzpatrick (also head of Sociology Department at the University of Arkansas). We have been offered a lot of community support by individual volunteers as well as businesses such as; K and K vet supply in Tontitown, The cobblestone project in Rogers, Seven Hills homeless shelter in Fayetteville, and Peace of Home. We have received many offers from the community of volunteer time, money, food, clothing, and support.
Our short term plan is to lease a facility capable of housing at least 50 women and children and to be able to provide meals, transportation to school or work, and a day care for the children while the mothers work. We plan to meet with city officials to determine which area in North West Arkansas would be most receptive for this project. Funding for our project will be provided by private donors as well as Federal grants. We are hiring a grant writer at the beginning of the second quarter 2010 to aide us in the grant writing process. We are also soliciting financial help and donations from local churches and other charitable organizations. Our long term goal is to have enough funding to begin the construction of a long term shelter that could house up to 150 women and children and a second shelter for homeless men.