Debi Barnes: Keeping the Door Open at Our House
By Jennifer Pyron
in her day job as a principal with DD&F Consulting Group, Debi Barnes helps banking clients implement strategic marketing plans and handle sensitive communications issues, which is no easy task. Her volunteer role with Our House, however, requires even more finesse and energy. Debi and the rest of the board of directors are committed to helping families find their way out of homelessness.
Q: What inspired you to first get involved with Our House?
A: One day in 2008, as I was preparing to move to Little Rock, the topic of Our House came up in two distinctly different situations. First, Pat Lile, former Director of the Arkansas Community Foundation, mentioned it to me when I inquired about organizations I could get involved with that focused on helping women and children. About an hour later, someone from Our House called the spa (I still owned Turtle Cove Spa on Lake Ouachita) to see if we would donate a spa retreat to celebrate the 10th anniversary of an employee. With two mentions of Our House in one day, I felt compelled to visit and learn more. I was immediately drawn to the mission and knew this was somewhere I wanted to be involved.
Q: Why is Our House important to the Little Rock community?
A: Helping people help themselves is the best long-term solution our community has for homelessness. Unlike other organizations that provide only short-term stays for individuals, with no place for families to stay together and no assistance with long-term needs and planning, Our House provides a safe, educational environment for the working homeless and their families. The programs focus on helping residents become contributing members of our community.
Q: What’s a personal memory that best captures the reason you continue to serve at Our House?
A: I had the privilege of serving as a mentor in the Women at Work program. During the 12-week program, I met weekly with two women who were trying to get back into the workforce to teach them basic business etiquette skills and develop confidence and self-esteem. Watching them blossom and begin to see their world with potential was an amazing experience. I learned as much, or more, from them as they learned from me. I still stay in touch with them.
Q: What can guests expect at Tie One On?
A: Tie One On always has fabulous food and great live and silent auction items. The name of the event stems from the hand-painted aprons donated by Arkansas artists. Auction items range from Razorback goodies to chef-prepared dinners and spa packages. Last year, I bought all of my family’s Christmas presents there. When they learned the proceeds from their presents went to Our House, their gifts became more than tickets to the Harlem Globetrotters or a basket of candles; they became a way to provide meals for a homeless family, diapers for infants or after-school programs. It was a great reminder for all of us of the true meaning of the season.
Tie One On
When: 6–9 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 6 | Where: Pavilion in the Park
Tickets: $55 per person | Info: 374-7383, ext. 228, OurHouseShelter.org