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story.lead_photo.caption Callie Gutierrez (left) and Chandler Bailey throw caution — and several dozen bingo cards — to the wind.

If they play their cards right, Callie Gutierrez and Chandler Bailey will raise a good deal of money for the organization they support.

Gutierrez and Bailey are sisters and co-chairs (with their husbands, David Gutierrez and Morgan Bailey, respectively) for Bingo Bash, one of three major annual fundraisers for Access, a Little Rock-based nonprofit that serves individuals with special needs, age 6 weeks through adulthood, via evaluation, therapy, full-time education, vocational training and activities.

The 13th annual fundraiser will take place, 6-9 p.m. July 18 at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, 1100 Napa Valley Drive, Little Rock. It'll feature 12 games of bingo, a catfish buffet from Adam's Catfish, beverages, raffles and entertainment.

Tickets are $50, $100 for patrons (which includes a tax credit and their name in the program). That gets you food and beverages and 10 bingo cards; extra cards are a buck apiece and there's no limit, as long as you recycle the cards after each game.

Prize packages will be worth $200-$300, mostly in the form of donations from businesses including bottles of wine, visits to nail salons, jewelry and restaurant gift cards. A raffle ($20 per ticket) will feature larger prizes, including trips, a box at Oaklawn, PK grills and restaurant events/packages. The goal is to raise more than $40,000.

Gutierrez, older by three years, started working in Access' development department after graduating in 2011 from the University of South Carolina. For five years, from 2009-14, she helped to plan special events, including the Bingo Bash, until she decided to start a family and stay home with her children.

But she has continued to volunteer for the organization through the Access in Action Young Professionals support group, composed of people in their 20s to mid-30s, mostly college grads.

"I'm actually dyslexic," explains Gutierrez, "so Access spoke to me and my heart. Particularly the academic therapy for dyslexic kiddos" and the nonprofit's programs for development, language and learning disabilities.

When sister Chandler Blank, now Bailey, moved back to Little Rock after graduating from the University of Georgia at Athens, Gutierrez recruited her to join Access in Action.

"It's such a good place to start volunteering," she says, with opportunities including the nonprofit's Development Council and its other two big fundraisers, a golf tournament and the annual Starry, Starry Night.

Gutierrez also volunteers for Our House (her husband is on its board), the Junior League and with the American Cancer Society on its Cattle Baron's Ball.

Bailey worked on Gutierrez's Our House committee for two years and also volunteers with the Junior League. Her "day job" is running interior design business, B Interiors; Gutierrez, who is otherwise a full-time mom, handles her sister's books.

Access is marking its 25th anniversary this fall, so it's a big year, says Krysten Levin, the nonprofit's marketing and special events manager.

"It has grown so much," Gutierrez adds. "It started out with one therapist, in one preschool classroom" -- still in use, now as a game therapy room. "The other side of my office was an indoor play area."

The organization this year serves more than 780 families from 35 counties in Arkansas and surrounding states from outpatient clients across the state. At least 18 families have moved to Little Rock to allow their child to receive services, Levin says. Access has more than 200 employees and 125 community volunteers, ranging from young adults to retirees.

Funding for the $12 million annual budget comes from a variety of sources, including insurance, scholarships and private tuition, with the annual fundraisers filling in the gaps.

This event started out as "Beer, Brats & Bingo," in the sanctuary of the church that is now Access' Stella Boyle Smith Early Childhood Campus, on Breckenridge Drive in west Little Rock. When the attendance topped 265 last year with a waiting list for tickets, the space was maxed out. They're looking to draw 300 in its first year at the larger Greek Orthodox church.

Gutierrez has been involved in 11 of 13 Bingo Bashes, and says she gets more of an opportunity to play now than she did when she worked for Access. But, says Bailey, "Last year there wasn't a chance to play -- things moved so fast."

"It's a casual event," she adds, "Bingo, raffles, beer and wine, good food -- and chill."

For tickets, call (501) 217-8600 or email tori.horton@accessgroupinc.org.

Photo by Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/JOHN SYKES JR.
Sisters Callie Gutierrez (left) and Chandler Bailey swing into planning for Access’ Bingo Bash fundraiser.

High Profile on 06/23/2019

Print Headline: Sister act: Bingo Bash planners helping kids with special needs

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