The Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund of Garland County held its 10th annual Single Parent Style Show March 29, raising funds to be utilized by Garland County single parents qualifying for the scholarship. ASPSF is a scholarship awarded to single parents in Arkansas to assist with basic financial needs while completing their undergraduate degree.
Its mission is to “enable single parents to attain self-sufficiency through postsecondary education.”
Hosted at and catered by Hot Springs Country Club, the Style Show cost $30 to attend. It included a wine bar provided by Wine Rack & Spirits Shoppe owner Cord Kopkau and an auction of locally donated artwork, gift certificates, home décor and jewelry.
The boutiques featured in the style show were Accessory Gallery and Sparkle, Doodlebugs, Chantilly and The Trendy Palette Boutique. Each boutique provided its own models. Scholarship recipient Kiesha Cummings gave her testimony during the event. “Being a single parent is hard, and it’s not meant to be done that way, but the scholarship helps me provide financially for my daughter,” Cummings said.
She said the scholarship helped keep her daughter, Corman, 8, in gymnastics classes — an activity she loves.
Cummings said it’s important to go to college as a single parent because it sets a good example for your child.
“Life is hard, and nothing is given to you — you have to work for it. So I think you’re not only telling them, but you’re showing them hard work and dedication and that no matter what life throws at you, anything is possible, you just have to work hard for it.”
Cummings, a senior at College of the Ouachitas in Malvern, is expected to graduate in May with a degree in registered nursing.
She said when she graduates and settles into a job, she plans to donate back to ASPSF.
“It’s a really amazing scholarship. It’s hard to find financial assistance (for) nontraditional students that have kids and have already tried to go to college once
before, and I just think this scholarship really takes a look at that and helps with that.”
All funds raised at the style show went to the ASPSF-GC, benefiting recipients that are residents of Garland County attending National Park College, commuting to nearby colleges or any online college of their choice.
The scholarship recipients can use the money awarded for any necessities such as child care, utility bills, school books or gas to travel to school.
According to ASPSF, 36 percent of Arkansas families are single-parent households, and 47 percent of those households live below the poverty line. However, every ASPSF-GC qualifier is awarded and 90 percent of ASPSF working graduates earn above-poverty wages.
“When they (scholarship recipients) raise up out of poverty they’re bringing their children with them, so we’re affecting two generations of poverty, and having a
huge economic impact in Arkansas,” Region 7 program manager Laura Lee Willard said.
ASPSF-GC council member Lynn King said most of the scholarship recipients come from very difficult beginnings, are first-time college students and have children they are trying to be a role model for.
She said the scholarship benefits the recipient, their children and the community.
“It’s a gift to the community because it pays itself back, and these (recipients) would otherwise be welfare recipients that are trying to get out of a really bad rut.”
With the motto of “You can do it! We can help.” ASPSF-GC has helped 725 students, awarding a total of $374,503 in scholarships, since it began in 1992.
ASPSF-GC co-chair Helen Bumpas said ASPSF-GC granted $21,000 in scholarships this spring semester, but there is “always a need for more.”
According to an email from Bumpas and ASPSFGC Co-chair Kay Ekey, when Arkansas Gives ended in 2017, the organization lost approximately $10,000 in additional funding.
ASPSF-GC holds one fundraising event every year, relying on sponsors and donations for the rest of its funding.
Event sponsors included First Security, Dorothy Morris, Ken and Vicki Cook and Dr. Tim and Helen Bumpas.
Scholarship sponsors include Southern Bancorp, the Ivy family, Windows USA, Blake and Laura Whitley and First Presbyterian Church.
The ASPSF-GC volunteer council is responsible for producing the event. Council members include Bumpas, Ekey, Treasurer Mandi Krauss, Kala Albright, Kristi Barger, Mitzi Bass, Sara Brown, Vicki Cook, Judith Honey, King, Carla Mouton, Jan Segrest and Amy Whorton.
In addition to council members, there are also general volunteers playing a key role in production — from contacting local businesses for auction donations to promoting the event around town.
Willard said ASPSF-GC is brainstorming additional fundraising ideas to do throughout the year and is eager to grow their volunteer base to help see these ideas through. For more information on volunteering, email volun[email protected]
For more information on ASPSF, visit ASPSF.org, and for more information on ASPSF-GC, contact Willard at [email protected]