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Good Will: A Southern Supper at Sunset

Good Will: A Southern Supper at Sunset

May 1, 2016
by Callie Sterling
Photograph by Janet Warlick

Our House, a local shelter and assistance program for those in need, will host its 11th annual Dinner on the Grounds fundraiser. This Southern supper at sunset will be held May 6 at 6:30 p.m. with the beautiful backdrop of the historic Terry House.

Our House was founded in 1987 and serves more than 1,700 individuals annually. Their clients include families who are homeless, near homeless and who have previously been homeless. The fundraising goal for this year’s dinner is $200,000.

Guests will enjoy an evening with a catered Southern buffet-style dinner, live music by Lagniappe, drinks, games, prizes and more on the grounds of the historic home. The event will highlight local flavor and foods. This year’s theme, Hospitality in Bloom, was chosen to set the tone for the fundraiser.

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“There is no seating chart, which I love. It is very relaxed and feels like you are just hanging out at a lovely dinner with 500 friends,” Georgia Mjartan said. She serves as executive director for the nonprofit. “I also love that it is outside; this makes for a relaxing and comfortable environment.”

The event is the organization’s highest-profiting fundraising event.  “Dinner on the Grounds consistently serves as our most profitable fundraiser,” Mjartan said. “Last year we raised $180,000 and this year our goal is higher. I think we can achieve it.”

Georgia Mjartan, Executive Director of Our House

Georgia Mjartan, Executive Director of Our House

Husband and wife Bobbi and Dustin McDaniel serve as co-chairs for the dinner’s committee. The couple wanted this year’s theme to reflect not only the fundraising event, but Our House and its overall mission as well.

“The theme was truly a collaborative effort between my wife and I,” Dustin McDaniel said. “Bobbi really wanted the theme to represent both the nature and springtime side of the event. She really liked the phrase ‘in bloom.’ I wanted the phrase to also encompass what Our House stands for. We brainstormed over dinner and thought hospitality would be the perfect word to describe Our House. We combined our two ideas and came up with Hospitality in Bloom. We think the theme captures the spirit of Our House and Dinner on the Grounds at the same time. We love the word hospitality because Our House opens its arms to people during the most difficult time of their lives.”

The event is continually a major success in large part because of the volunteers. Food, beverages, prizes, decorations and more have been donated this year, and 30 or so volunteers will help staff the event.

“A lot of fundraisers have a good amount of overhead costs, but we have been lucky that our cost to host the event is very minimal, thanks to donations and volunteers,” Mjartan said. “Ninety percent of the profits from this event go straight to Our House.”

Donations were made from several local businesses in the Central Arkansas area to help keep overhead costs low for Our House, a fact that especially pleases Mjartan.

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Ben E. Keith Co. has offered to donate all of the food product,” she said. “Lost Forty Brewing will host a beer tent. We will feature local root beer from Diamond Bear Brewing Company. There will be Loblolly Creamery ice cream. Glazers Distributors-Arkansas is donating wine and liquor. Brittan Sanders, owner of Shouting Love Designs, is styling the event. One lucky guest will receive a flyaway prize, donated by Southwest Airlines.  We have volunteers staffing the event. It is amazing how many people are helping make this event possible.”

Dinner on the Grounds will directly benefit members of the Our House family. Our House also offers an array of additional services. The organization offers multiple therapy services, financial advice, academic enrichment programs, after-school care, children’s summer programs and much more. Their goal is to prepare their clients for future success.

“Our House changes lives and assists those in need by providing more than shelter,” Mjartan said. “We require all of our adults who live here to get a full-time job, and we require them to save 75 percent of their income. The saving process helps them create a nest egg while they are here, and it sets them up for success in the future. Then they are able to move out on their own and pay rent independently. We want to assist others when they need it the most, and this fundraiser helps make that mission possible.”

Tickets for Dinner on the Grounds are $150 each and can be purchased online at ourhouseshelter.org/event.

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