Volunteer of the Year: Community foundation names Smith recipient of Lifetime Achievement Award
By Samantha Jones
The Carroll County Community Foundation’s Youth Advisory Council honored a local hero at the annual YAC Giving Tree Awards Friday, May 3.
Lieu Smith was named the recipient of the Volunteer of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his work with Loaves & Fishes Food Bank. Janell Robertson, executive director of the Carroll County Community Foundation, said Smith has been instrumental in the success of Loaves & Fishes for more than 20 years as a volunteer and board member.
“With board changes, Lieu has recently given 110 percent to make sure the food bank runs smoothly and all the bases are covered,” Robertson said.
The community foundation intended to give out an award for Volunteer of the Year, Robertson said, but there were too many worthy candidates to recognize only one person. She said the award was split into a category for volunteers working with adults, a category for volunteers working with children and a special category to recognize Smith’s work over the years.
“When we saw [Smith] was nominated, we thought, ‘There needs to be a Volunteer of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award,’ “ Robertson said. “[Smith] has worked tirelessly in Carroll County forever and has created an important nonprofit that has helped everyone. Countless people are not hungry thanks to Mr. Lieu Smith.”
Dr. Dan Bell and his wife, Susie, were named Volunteer of the Year in the adult category for their work with Eureka Christian Health Outreach (ECHO) Clinic and ECHO Village.
“They have touched so many people across so many areas of Carroll County with their free clinic, and also the ECHO Village they’re now building,” Robertson said. “They have worked tirelessly to provide fee medical, dental and counseling services at the clinic.”
Bruce and Carole Bieschke were named Volunteer of the Year in the adult category for their work with the Boy Scouts. Robertson said the Bieschkes have been helping young men and now young women grow and learn in Carroll County for more than 30 years.
“They love the children like they are their own and celebrate their victories and accomplishments right alongside them,” Robertson said.
Other nominees for Volunteer of the Year include Chad Allen, a champion for youth sports in Berryville; Hester Alsip, who gives people free rides to the grocery store and the doctor’s office; Donna Wengee, who volunteers with Eureka Springs Historical Museum, Daughters of the American Revolution and more; Isabelle Dean, a volunteer case manager and mentor at Jeremiah House; Berryville Police Chief Robert Bartos, who volunteers for The Merlin Foundation and Grandma’s House Advocacy Center; Bernie Haydon, a dedicated volunteer at Flint Street Fellowship; Tyler Ashworth, a member of Lions Club and the Berryville School Board; Mariellen Griffith, who promotes gardening and nature-focused organizations; Lin Wellford, a volunteer for Good Shepherd Humane Society and the Green Forest Library; United Methodist Church of Berryville for its breakfast ministry; Woody Barlow, who serves on the Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow board of directors; Mindy Hicks, coordinator for Berryville Bright Futures; Jerry Landrum, who volunteers with ECHO Village, The Purple House and more; Fiona Richards, a board member of Good Shepherd Humane Society; Steve Beacham, who has volunteered with Clear Spring School since 1977; Melvin Jensen, a volunteer with Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge and Faith Petit Shah, who has helped cultivate the Eureka Springs Native Plant Garden.
Also at the awards ceremony, YAC students handed out grants to eight local nonprofits. Paula Koch accepted the grant for Flint Street Fellowship, saying the money will go toward the food bank’s Back Our Kids Program.
“The Back Our Kids program is one of our favorite parts of Flint Street Fellowship,” Koch said. “Rotarians come in on Fridays and do a great job of putting the sacks together. It helps kids over the weekend get what they need.”
Beckie Moore accepted the grant for Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, saying the funds will go toward purchasing educational materials for the refuge’s outreach to local schools and colleges.
“We’re a true sanctuary, rescuing exotic cats and bears from the pet trade,” Moore said. “We’re very big on educating the public, because it is very unknown that there are more tigers in U.S. back yards than left in the wild.”
Joy Morris accepted the grant for Single Parent Scholarship Fund of Northwest Arkansas. She said the money will provide back-to-school funds for the recipients of the scholarship.
“This spring semester, we have five fiercely determined single parents who are pursuing their degrees,” Morris said. “They’re setting great examples their children are very likely to follow, so it breaks the cycle of poverty for the family.”
Peggy Lodewyks accepted the grant for Holiday Island Rotary Foundation Imagination Library, saying all the money goes toward purchasing books for local children. There are 425 children signed up for the program, Lodewyks said, which provides a free age-appropriate book mailed to their homes from birth to their 5th birthday.
“Now we are able to go into Green Forest,” Lodewyks said. “The kids learn to read, and then they read to learn, and we really appreciate that.”
Roslyn Imrie accepted the grant for Ozark Natural Science center to fund a 2.5-day outdoor science program for local fifth-graders.
“This money will go into our tuition assistance fund, which we use to bring students who cannot afford the field trip out,” Imrie said, “because we want all the students to be able to come out with their school whether they can afford it or not.”
Tina Cone and Beverly Hanby accepted the grant for The Little Red Bookshelf. Cone said the money will help purchase more books for the program, which provides one book per child per household at Loaves & Fishes Food Bank.
“We keep the shelf stocked with new or gently used books,” Cone said. “Children get to choose one book per visit. We go through about 3,000 books a year.”
The Brandon Burlsworth Foundation received a grant to provide free eye care to local youth, and Project Self-Esteem of Carroll County received a grant for free school supply bags.
Robertson thanked all the nonprofits for working with the Carroll County Community Foundation.
“As you can tell, our spring giving tree grant cycle is very specific to programs that support youth and children,” Robertson said. “Our next grant cycle will open July 10 and close Aug. 15, and it is a very broad grant cycle. We open that to all nonprofits.”