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Cleveland County Staff Supports Kingsland StudentsDate: 10/01/2019
Leslie Stephenson slowly scanned the room and saw kids laughing and playing while the hum of parents talking rose above the single file line as they waited to get free school supplies.
“Seeing so many people happy and excited, while also thinking about how everything came together … I had to fight back the tears,” she said.
Every day, Stephenson walks past a sign that says, “We care. We act. We change lives.” As a DHS Division of County Operations eligibility specialist for Cleveland County, the message has hit home for Stephenson.
“The DHS motto is about action … and not just a poster near the front desk of our office,” she said. “That came to mind while I was with one client in particular. I saw a need to address, an opportunity to change lives, and I got to work looking for ways to get kids their school supplies.”
Stephenson was with an upset client who talked about how their kids wouldn’t have school supplies. While consoling the parent, Stephenson thought about how Cleveland County DHS could step-up to host a school supply drive for students who live in Kingsland.
“We’re in a high poverty area. We felt it was only right for DHS to help families from Kingsland,” Stephenson said. “Also, those students had a major change coming as they were going to a new, unfamiliar school district as the Kingsland district had consolidated this past spring. With all the uncertainty they faced, we wanted to show our support and let them know that we’re here for them.”
The drive was a success as staff pitched in by donating money or buying supplies. The successful supply drive has inspired the Cleveland County crew to do more projects for the community, especially with the holiday season right around the corner.
“It’s important that DHS employees show the public that we’re human, too.” Stephenson said. “We’re part of their communities. We’re their neighbors. We want to make where we live a great place. We need to show people that we’re willing to help out when it’s needed – whatever the need may be. It makes a difference for them, and it can change how they think about DHS, too.”
To learn more about DCO visit https://humanservices.arkansas.gov/about-dhs/dco.