Sponsors and members of the Hot Springs Youth Advisory Council braved the surrounding rain and thunderstorms for their drive-through grant receipt in early May, distributing $14,325 to 16 area nonprofits for related activities and projects to young people in the Garland County area.
Along with the grants, the first scholarship established in honor of a former executive director of the Hot Springs Area Community Foundation who was instrumental in founding the youth council was also presented.
The grants were distributed May 2 at a drive-in grants reception outside the Hot Springs affiliate office at the Rix Building on Malvern Avenue.
“Although it was a rainy day with surrounding thunderstorms, the youths handed out checks and certificates greeting the beneficiaries under their umbrellas,” a press release read.
The first Ann Carrithers Hot Springs Advisory Youth Council Memorial Scholarship, established in memory of Ann Carrithers, who served as the Executive Director of the Hot Springs Area Community Foundation from 1995 to 2017, in the amount of $1,000, was also awarded. given to Robert Lewis Neilsen, a graduate of the Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences, and the Arts, who also attended Lakeside High School.
(An earlier article incorrectly named the scholarship the Ann Carrithers Hot Springs Advisory Youth Council Memorial Scholarship, resulting in the scholarship being called the Inaugural AYC Memorial Scholarship, rather than the Inaugural YAC Memorial Scholarship in memory of Carrithers.)
A graduate of ASMSA with 32 hours of college credit, Neilsen has actively participated in the Youth Advisory Council for the past four years and achieved the rank of Eagle Scout during the pandemic, and has served several dozen volunteer hours. in his community as a member of Our Promise Young Men of Distinction and participated in the Hot Springs/Hanamaki Sister City program hosting many Japanese students and raising funds for the organization, according to the statement.
“While at the foundation, Ann was instrumental in establishing the Hot Springs Area Youth Advisory Council in 2001 and assisted the group for many years. The council was created to teach young people about the art of philanthropy and service to their community. Ann was servant-hearted and committed to many other organizations in our community and we greatly miss her leadership and willingness to serve others,” the statement read.
Neilsen’s plans include earning his bachelor’s degree, concentrating on aviation, and receiving his licenses and qualifications to become a professional pilot with a major airline and flight instructor.
He plans to return to this area, and in his spare time wants to “give back as much as possible to the communities that made me who I am,” Neilsen said in his scholarship application.
“Last December, the youth were able to host their in-person donor reception and received additional donations for the grant-making, thanks to the generosity of their friends, relatives and loyal donors. These funds are in addition to the income of their Hot Springs Youth Advisory Endowment Fund has allowed them to award more grants than in years prior to COVID-19,” said Brad Burleson, YAC Senior Advisor for the Hot Springs Area Branch.
“Young people received over $27,000 in applications, giving them valuable experience of having to make decisions and making smart choices. They debated how to allocate their available funds to various areas of need, where there may be gaps and where we can try and have the greatest impact.”
Since YAC’s inception in 2002, the group has awarded $178,222 to area nonprofits serving Garland County.
Grant recipients included the following:
ACE (All Created Equal) — Buy fresh fruits and produce.
AR Learning Through the Arts – Buy student newspapers.
Camp Tanako — Buy camera gear.
Emerging arts — Art supplies and scholarships.
Essential Pathways Inc. — Food, movies, games and contractor fees.
Garland County Imagination Library – Buy books.
High Impact Movement Inc. — Spa City Youth Academy/Ambassadors.
Hot Springs AIDS Resource Center Inc. — Food expenditures for the pantry.
Hot Springs Children’s Dance Theater Company — Marketing materials and performer fees.
Hot Springs District Dance Program — Support for the District Dance Program.
Hot Springs Junior Academy (JAG) — Buy healthy food.
I can! Of Arkansas – Buy Buddy costumes and t-shirts.
Mid-America Science Museum — Scientots Preschool Program.
NICA Hot Springs Thoroughbreds — Partial mountain bike purchase.
Project HOPE Food Bank — Food subsidy program.
Unlimited resources – Food and travel expenses for college trip.
Call Burleson at 501-944-2530 for more information. The group will begin meeting again in September during the 2022-23 school year. For more information about the Hot Springs Area Community Foundation, call Joyce Whitfield at 501-620-4008 or email [email protected]