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Community Matters marks first anniversary


JASPER — Newton County Community Matters celebrated its first anniversary and held it annual membership meeting Thursday, Feb. 22, at the Jasper Methodist Church. Members elected the new slate of officers and shared pieces of an anniversary cake along with other refreshments during the meeting.
The acknowledged purpose of Community Matters is to care about the community and its neighbors, work together to achieve unmet needs and offer a "hand up" to other community members in order to achieve lasting improvements. The member individuals and organizations use networking and collaboration to bring about change, respectively, to improve the health and quality of life of citizens, and to educate and prepare a response to any emergency or disaster that strikes within the county.
The slate of elected officers includes: Michelle Martin, chair; Jimmy Dale Huskey, pastor of the Jasper Baptist Church, vice chair; Lois Cornwell, Jasper Methodist Church, continue serving as secretary; Ross Harris, Seventh-day Adventist Church (with Jim Martin assisting) as treasurer; Cecilia Reeves and Becky Richardson, both continuing as community-at-large representatives.
The monthly spotlight speaker for February was Ozark Opportunities, Inc., Human Resources and PR Director Hilary Cleaver. She briefly outline the programs and services provided by the private, non-profit 501c3 established in 1969 as a Community Action Agency providing services to Baxter, Boone, Marion, Newton, Searcy and Van Buren counties.
Ozark Opportunities plays a role in providing early childhood education through the Early Head Start, Head Start and Arkansas Better Chance programs. Its Lily Pad classrooms, located at the 701 East Prospect, Harrison, is a state funded voucher program reaching children ages 6 months - 18 months). The parent or guardian is required to provide proof of work or enrollment in an educational program.
The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program is federally funded and contracted between Ozark Opportunities, Inc. and the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality for local administration to assist eligible applicants with non-emergency and crisis assistance for winter heating and summer cooling.
It's SUCCESS program is free and helps people get help with:
​​housing, food, utilities, budgeting, credit building or
obtaining insurance, GED, college/technical school enrollment and finding employment
This program is based on the needs and wants of the household. Individuals and families establish a partnership with a Family Development Worker who will assist in developing goals that will help them become self-reliant.
Healthy Families Arkansas™ – Ozark Mountains (HFA-Ozark Mountains) is a home visiting program accredited through Healthy Families America ® (HFA) that aims to strengthen families. This program gives pregnant women and families, particularly those considered high risk, necessary resources and skills to raise children who are healthy and ready to learn. We serve Searcy and Van Buren counties.
Cleaver said Ozark Opportunities, Inc. is in the process of conducting a Community Needs Assessment. Assessments are made every three years, working with local government, Chambers of Commerce, and companies to meet expressed needs.
Community Matters meetings are held the fourth Thursday of each month at the Jasper Methodist Church Fellowship Hall beginning at 10 a.m. Meetings generally last 60-90 minutes.