Little Rock is Arkansas’ capital and largest city. With a population of close to 200,000 and 18% living below the poverty line, the AR Dream Center has a great opportunity to SERVE! The ARDC Little Rock is located in down town just outside the metro area closer to the communities and family living areas.
We began our SERVE efforts in the fall of 2009 with a small group of volunteers willing to go door to door to ask a few simple questions about how we could best serve this community and what we could do to make it better. Each Saturday a few volunteers would gather to hit the streets of Little Rock with a mission to love, SERVE, and build relationships. Simple as that. Through consistency and follow-through we began to build some trust and the word got out, we were really in this thing and just wanted to SERVE…no strings attached. Through various outreaches, including trash pick-ups, yard work, water hand outs..etc., we noticed we were attracting a following of neighborhood children wanting to get involved.
Months went by and we acquired a small house in the neighborhood and relationships with 30-40 neighborhood kids. As the summer wrapped up and school was starting just around the corner, we got a crazy idea to start an After School program. Our “program” consisted of an open door at the house, some pb&j sandwiches, a Wii with The Michael Jackson Experience, and, on a good day, a little homework help! Kids started showing up to hang out and volunteers began to really get involved the more time they spent with these amazing kids. Their hearts began to get tied to the mission of REACHING out to the community, SERVING their needs, and RESTORING their dreams!
Since then, a few years have passed and God has blessed the ARDC tremendously! We have now outgrown that small house and moved into the former George Washington Carver YMCA building on Daisy L. Gatson Bates Drive and Cross Street. Our donors have been faithful and generous, making it possible to totally renovate this historic neighborhood building; revitalizing it to be a community hub and resource once more! We now have over 120 children on our After School roster, have given away 1000’s of turkeys and hams for Thanksgiving, blessed 100’s of families with gifts for Christmas, given 1000’s of articles of clothing, and provided furniture for countless families in need! There are activities and outreaches going on almost every day of the week onsite, offsite, morning, afternoon, evening, weekends and more! There are hundreds of ways to get involved, whether you have items to donate, time to come and play with some awesome kids, cooking a delicious meal for our neighbors, want to come sort clothes for our Clothing Closet — if you want to SERVE, there’s a place for you.