Soulful, Southern Supper
Dynamic duo Yvette and Andrew Parker play hosts to the year’s most southern supper at Dinner on the Grounds – to benefit Our House, a shelter for the working homeless.
By Jillian McGehee | Photography by Sara Blancett | Shot on location at the Terry House
Rain or shine. Hot or cold. Regardless of the weather, supper is graciously served at what has become one of Little Rock’s most beloved events. And under the leadership of fun-loving, dynamic couple Yvette and Andrew Parker, Dinner on the Grounds, benefiting Our House, introduces early summertime festivities with southern style.
First hosted in the back yard of a patron eight years ago, Dinner on the Grounds has continued to surpass expectations. Proceeds are critical to Our House, a shelter for the working homeless. “Unlike grant money, which Our House constantly pursues, proceeds from Dinner on the Grounds are undedicated dollars that can be used for general operating costs for necessities like water and air conditioning,” says Andrew.
Yvette and Andrew are easily recognized in dashing attire at philanthropic events throughout Central Arkansas. But this energetic couple is just as likely to put on their jeans and work behind the scenes for the many organizations they support. They are committed to improving the community and the lives of Arkansans.
Originally from Carmel, California and having lived 13 years in San Francisco, Yvette has found her home in Little Rock. “The mid-size city of Little Rock, with its easy access to nature and a feeling of community, was a very welcomed change. The past three years have really been the best of my life.”
Arkansas has always been home to Andrew, director of government affairs at Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce/Associated Industries of Arkansas. Reflecting on his wife’s relocation experience, he notes, “For many reasons, it seems that our culture invites relationships that create opportunities. This has contributed to great things happening here in Little Rock.”
The Parkers consider civic leadership a responsibility; they simply want to see the community prosper. “We believe in sharing the responsibility of contributing and giving back to our fellow citizens,” Andrew says. Since moving to Little Rock, Yvette, the community relations manager at Ben E. Keith Foods, has helped various organizations plan their special events.
Her first experience with Our House was in 2011 as a volunteer for its Tie One On event. “Working with director Georgia Mjartan, the staff, board members and other volunteers was a great experience,” she says. That led to a campus visit during an open house and solidified her relationship with the nonprofit.
Andrew takes many (OK, most, he acknowledges) cues from Yvette when it comes to their philanthropic involvement. “Our House has always been a familiar organization but not one I’d really spent time exploring,” he says. “The Our House success stories she shared and my subsequent open house visit sealed the deal.”
Our House may be a shelter, but it’s far more than that, Andrew adds. “It is a community within a community.” Residents, regardless of their circumstances, receive a safe haven to establish and redefine their independence. Whether it’s a single mom or dad or a person with no children, Our House dedicates time and resources necessary for success, he says. Residents are held accountable and required to find and keep employment. Each must save and learn how to manage 75 percent of their earned income throughout their stay at Our House, creating a “nest egg” for when they leave the shelter.
With “A Soulful Southern Supper” as its theme, Yvette says Dinner on the Grounds will feature a fusion menu. The food and cocktails highlight some of the best of Little Rock dining, prepared by some of its finest chefs and drink “mixologists.” With music by Lagniappe, the evening will “harness the magic of a true Southern social experience,” she boasts.