Little Rock Soirée: Q&A with the 2017 Dinner on the Grounds Chairs
By Lydia McAllister
Photo by Jason Masters
April 25, 2017
As the 2017 Dinner on the Grounds event draws closer, we chatted with this year’s event chairs — who just happen to be an entire family dedicated to the Our House mission. Baker and Ginny Kurrus and their daughters Sarah Kurrus Bemberg and Madeline Kurrus Moore perfectly embody the family-centric aspect of Our House, since the organization champions families and individuals while setting them up for success.
Baker and Ginny have instilled a passion for helping their community in their daughters who carry on that tradition. In addition to volunteering their time to various organizations in their community, Madeline also sends her daughter, Finley, to Our House’s Little Learners Daycare, furthering the family’s confidence in Our House and its mission.
The Dinner on the Grounds event, with the fitting title of “A Family Affair,” will be held at the Terry House on May 5. For more information on tickets or sponsorships, visit their website.
Q: Baker and Ginny, what led the two of you to get involved with Our House?
Ginny: “We have actually been somewhat involved since Our House started in the 80s. At that time many local churches helped with meals and activities. Our Sunday School class served a meal once a month and also hosted an Easter Egg hunt for the kids when they first moved to the old VA property.”
Baker: “The idea of serving families in need was immediately compelling to me. We talk about ‘our fam’ as a living, breathing, dynamic body that is more than the sum of its parts. We believe that. This event has been special in the sense that we have tried as a group to do something intentional to help other families and return a blessing that we have been given. We have been able to do more as a family on this project than we could have done individually. By doing this, we are living the mission of the organization, while helping the organization. There is a certain symmetry there.”
Q: What has that experience been like for you?
Ginny: “It would not be difficult to live in West Little Rock and sort of ignore the problem of homelessness. Through our involvement with public schools, we became painfully aware of the challenges of our fellow citizens face with finding decent, affordable housing for their families.”
Baker: “My experiences in education also have demonstrated that children with family support and stability are much more successful in school. For example, homelessness is a huge cause of academic failure, which leads to so many other problems. Fix homelessness and academic success is more attainable.
For me, the most compelling case for Our House is visibly demonstrated when the school buses pull up and drop off kids coming “home” to Our House in the afternoon. They are greeted warmly, and welcomed into a loving family environment that nurtures them completely. Where would these kids be if not for Our House? I saw this again yesterday, and it moves me deeply every time.”
Q: Sarah and Madeline, what was it like growing up and seeing your parents so involved with volunteering their time to organizations that mattered to them?
Madeline: “Normal. And we’re so thankful for that. They never waited until they had more time, more money, or more of whatever to give. They just jumped in and served however asked. They lived it, and we’re all constantly striving to keep up.”
Sarah: “I remember in elementary school we had an art contest every year where kids would draw the cover of our school directory. One year my mom was in a kid’s drawing! It was the principal, the music teacher, and Mrs. Kurrus. She was always there doing whatever needed to be done. It was an amazing example to grow up with.”
Q: Madeline, I know you send your daughter Finley to Our House’s Little Learners Daycare. What was your decision-making process like behind sending your daughter to the Little Learners?
Madeline: “A great friend of ours actually got me to take the first look. I knew Our House did so much good, but before we started looking at daycare, I had no idea that they had an amazing child care facility. It is such a part of our lives now. They take great care of Finley, she’s learning and growing each day, and as a bonus, we get to know and celebrate people whose lives we might not otherwise cross. There is nothing sweeter than seeing Finley and her little friends of every color and background just having the best time at Our House.”
Q: You all are the first to chair Dinner on the Grounds as an entire family. What’s this experience been like?
Ginny: “It has been fun to work together. “Many hands, light work” is a favorite mantra of mine. We’re very proud that our children wanted to be a part of chairing the event.”
Madeline: “We are close and really enjoy working together. With Our House’s two-generation approach to helping families, it was a natural fit to get our whole family involved with Dinner on the Grounds this year.”
Q: What are you all most looking forward to with this year’s Dinner on the Grounds?
Sarah Kurrus Bemberg: “Our dad almost always has something up his sleeve, and so naturally, that makes us a little nervous. It’s a fun outdoor event with food, drinks and live music. We love to celebrate and this is an amazing cause, so we are just excited to see old and new friends and thank them for their support of Our House.”
Q: What’s been your favorite part of being involved with Our House?
Ginny: “The best part of helping chair Dinner on the Grounds has been sharing Our House’s mission throughout our community. Many people might know it as a shelter, but to share about all they are doing — job coaching, after school programs, their Little Learners childcare program — it’s rewarding to see people recognize how much Our House does for our community and want to support the organization.”