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P.H.O.E.B.E. celebrates youths during Preservation Month

May 21, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.
Front, from left, are Cheryl Batts, Franz Grimaud, Dallas Barber, Kylie Hollinshed, Stephon Soumanou, KelEcia Tucker, Makayla Hollinshed, Kouri Soumanou, and Chance Hollinshed, and back, from left, are workshop leaders Les Warren, Earnestine Ross, Board Members: Brenda Hegerich, Woodie L. Davis, and Matthew Stevenson. - Submitted photo

Communities across the nation commemorate Preservation Month in May, a time dedicated to honoring shared cultural heritage, preserving historical sites, and promoting stewardship of the built environment.

This year, Preservation Month holds even greater significance as communities emerge from challenges of the past year and reconnect with their roots.

The theme for this year's Preservation Month is "Safeguarding Our Treasures," which emphasizes the importance of protecting and preserving the nation's historic sites and landmarks for future generations.

"This is an opportunity to delve into the history that lies within our city, deepening our understanding and fostering a sense of pride in our local community," according to a news release from People Helping Others Excel By Example.

"During the aftermath of COVID, Emerging Leaders of the Uzuri Project Youth Institute, TUPYI, would have missed out on learning leadership skills and how the economic, cultural, and environmental benefits of preserving our built heritage showcases success stories, inspiring others to get involved. However, our community supporters and ARVEST Foundation made it possible to break through," it said.

"We are asking our community to celebrate with us as we share with you our newest group of Emerging Leaders from TUPYI who went off to college," the release said.

Alum Raven Turner is pursuing a double major at Arkansas Tech University in Russellville -- a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Biology and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. Turner finished her Emerging Leaders Tracks, came back and gave speeches in the community, and "certainly kept us abreast of how she was doing in college. We are so proud of Raven and her accomplishments!"

Preservation Month, established by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, provides an opportunity for individuals, organizations, and communities to recognize the value of preserving historic places and the stories they hold, "of the vital role these places play in shaping our identities and enriching our lives."

One such preservation project, the Historic John Lee Webb House, through grants from the CDBG fund, "helps Hot Springs remain a preservation-conscious city. P.H.O.E.B.E.'s continuing endeavors in this area will see TUPYI in the Historic John Lee Webb House, as its permanent home."

"Celebrate those around our community, take this time to recognize the efforts of dedicated individuals and groups who work tirelessly to protect, restore, and revitalize historic sites. It is an opportunity to acknowledge their passion and commitment, while encouraging others to contribute to the preservation movement in their own unique ways," the release said.

P.H.O.E.B.E. is in the process of "brainstorming" with Jane Browning, former executive director of United Way, "to help in guiding us through a new process, one of combining education, preservation, entertainment, and distinguishing fact from fiction. Ms. Browning will work with PHOEBE to build a board for greater influence and design committees with strategic plans for marketing, fundraising, and community outreach."

"Moving forward means we do so on every level, not just those mentioned. We will leverage social media, blogging, and write short personal blurbs and publish them on Facebook and other media platforms, to keep our community informed," the release said.

"What we are doing, and where we are going? We know we must strengthen our organizational capacity and increase our youth participation. We will focus on organizational development, implementation, and surround ourselves with experts who will facilitate our move into the Historic John Lee Webb House."

For more information on preservation of the Historic John Lee Webb House, joining the board, working with youths, building exhibits, lectures, and growing the Emerging Leaders program, call P.H.O.E.B.E. at 501-624-9400, email Che[email protected] or visit

"What started out 26 years ago as a way to share with the community, honor senior adults and find positive, educational, entertaining events for young people has turned into a place of memories and accomplishments for well over 500 young men and women and over 50 seniors," the release said.

"Many of our constituents around the state have found that working with both or one of these two groups reaps many benefits, not just organizationally, but for the community, our joint history, and the individual families whose lives were and are touched. None of us knew we were entering into a new field, one of preservation."

  photo  Raven Turner - Submitted photo
  photo  The Historic John Lee Webb House. - Submitted photo

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