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OPINION | Carin Schoppmeyer: Saving Grace, Girl Scouts in spotlight at fundraisers

Saving Grace, Scouts benefit by Carin Schoppmeyer, April Wallace | May 14, 2023 at 6:15 a.m.
Matt Gutierrez and Brooke Baker (from left) Brian and Cristy Sowell, Tara Burgess, Kim Beeson, Leigh Ann McKee, Michael Cullen, Laura Lindsey and Craig McKee help support Girl Scouts — Diamonds of Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas council at Camp 479 on April 28 at The Barn at the Springs in Springdale. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Carin Schoppmeyer)

Saving Grace backers at the Butterflies and Blooms luncheon April 27 boosted the group with more than $300,000 in donations for the growing nonprofit organization. Guests at the fundraiser held at the Rogers Convention Center heard about the Christ-centered group's plans to end generational poverty as they work with young women 18 to 25 who have "aged out" of foster care or group homes.

Saving Grace began planning in 2020 to build Grace Farms, a farm-style campus in Centerton, to increase the number of girls they can serve at a time from 12 to 50. "Saving Grace has been home to more than 225 young women since 2010. Our program receives over 150 applications per year," says Becky Shaffer, founder.

Leaders recently announced that they will move the program out of Rogers to the farm this summer upon the completion of Phase I, Grace Cottage. "We will continue fundraising for Phase 2, Grace House, which will allow us to welcome 20 more young women into the program, and then eventually phase 3 will allow us to serve 50."

Save the date for Saving Grace's second annual Uptown Hoedown set for Nov. 9 at Kindred North in Centerton.

Butterflies & Blooms backers included Walmart; The Coca-Cola Company; Sam's Furniture; Brandi Mallard Realtor; Clear View Enterprises; Ellingson Contracting; Innovative Business Furniture; Synchrony Financial; and United Federal Credit Union.

Girl Scouts Camp 479

Some 300 Girl Scouts supporters got a taste of scouting and s'mores and other Girl Scouts camp experiences at Camp 479 on April 28 at the Barn at the Springs in Springdale. Badge earning opportunities at the benefit were available at stations that included archery, BB guns, first aid, knot tying, star gazing, making s'mores and hatchet throwing.

Dawn Prasifka, CEO, told "campers": "Girls earn badges that help them be girls of courage, confidence and character, who make the world a better place."

The inaugural fundraiser to benefit Girl Scouts -- Diamonds of Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas brought in an estimated $70,000 that will help the council provide financial assistance for girls and adults and training for leaders, as well as support for "our beloved Camp NOARK property and programs" in Huntsville, Prasifka said.

"We believe very strongly that every girl that wants a Girl Scouts experience should be able to have one," Cristy Sowell, GS chief strategy officer, told guests. The council awards some $200,000 each year in financial aid.

"We over-index disproportionally in low-income communities -- so in a lot of situations, the only access girls have to this opportunity to learn, to fail, to make mistakes, dust themselves and go about building their future" is in Girl Scouts, added Andrea Albright, "camp director" (honorary event chairwoman), EVP Global Sourcing, Walmart.

"What I learned in Girl Scouts is a big, big reason of where I am today -- leadership, resilience, camaraderie, caring and just being able to give back," added Vinima Shekhar, event co-chairman, VP Wellness Merchandising, Walmart.

Serving as "assistant camp directors" (event co-chairmen) were Shekhar and Will McDonald, Walmart vice president, divisional merchandise manager, beverages. Sandy Edwards served as honorary co-chairwoman.

For more event photos --

Columnist Carin Schoppmeyer can be reached by email at [email protected]

  photo  Vinima Shekhar and Will McDonald, Camp 479 event co-charimen, stand for a photo at the benefit. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Carin Schoppmeyer)
  photo  Patrick Bannon (from left), Sally and Drew Albright, Liam Albright and Andrea Albright, Camp 479 honorary chairwoman, enjoy the Girl Scouts fundraiser April 28. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Carin Schoppmeyer)
  photo  Nancy Eberlein (from left), Lisa Holland and Channing Barker, Camp 479 executive committee members, welcome guests to the benefit April 28 in Springdale. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Carin Schoppmeyer)
  photo  Teheava Jackson (left) and Kayla Kimball try their archery skills at Camp 479. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Carin Schoppmeyer)
  photo  Judy Martin (from left), Cyndi Davis, Ashley Anne Davis, Laura and David Silva and Jonathan Silva enjoy Butterflies and Blooms. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Carin Schoppmeyer)
  photo  Sheila Welch (from left), Sarah and Ben Hamilton and Carrie and Brian Sizemore help support Saving Grace at Butterflies and Blooms. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Carin Schoppmeyer)
  photo  Lonna Hayward (from left), Von Hayward and Larra Hayward attend Butterflies and Blooms. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Carin Schoppmeyer)
  photo  Rick Campbell (from left), Kelly Capps, Shawn Alexander, Katelyn and Daniel Coon and Jill and David Ellingson of Ellingson Contractors gather at Butterflies and Blooms in support of Saving Grace. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Carin Schoppmeyer)

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At a Glance - Butterflies and Blooms

Who: Saving Grace

What: The luncheon helped raise more than $300,000 for the nonprofit organization.

When: April 27

Where: Rogers Convention Center

Next: Uptown Hoedown, Nov. 9

Information: (479) 636-1133 or

Camp 479

Who: Girl Scouts — Diamonds of Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas

What: Proceeds from the inaugural event will help support financial assistance for girls and adults, training for leaders and the groups Camp NOARK in Huntsville.

When: April 28

Where: The Barn at the Springs in Springdale

Information: (800) 632-6894 or


Print Headline: Funding focused on girls


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