Kelly Caldwell is Helping Our House Put an End to Homelessnes

“Give a man a fish and feed him for a day.
Teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime.”

Over the past months, this Chinese proverb has become very meaningful to Kelly Caldwell. As co-chair (along with Tabitha Cunningham) of this year’s Tie One On to benefit Our House shelter for the working homeless, Caldwell understands the importance of tackling the whole problem of homelessness, rather than a single aspect of it.

“Our House is more than just a shelter; [the organization] also provides job training, parenting classes, addiction recovery groups, education, counseling, computer classes, résumé tips and more, all to equip our fellow Arkansans with the skills they need to find a permanent way out of poverty,” she said. “Our House requires its residents to take money management classes and save a certain percentage of their paychecks so they can eventually leave with a small nest egg to help them live on their own. They also invest time and energy with the children at Our House to teach them the skills they need to be successful adults and, hopefully, not fall into the same homeless pattern.”

Our House operates an 80-bed shelter, two “family houses” that provide transitional housing for 13 homeless households, an education and job training center, a free childcare center, after-school and summer youth development programs and a feeding program.

One of Our House’s key annual fundraisers, Tie One On is a fun party that includes live entertainment, libations, hors d’oeuvres prepared by Trio’s and live and silent auctions. The main draw is the aprons designed by local artists, which are also auctioned off along with the great prizes and packages.

“Why aprons?” said Caldwell. “Aprons immediately make you think about cooking, and this event not only raises money, but it also celebrates the success of the meal program at Our House, which serves more than 77,000 meals per year!”

Tie One On will be held from 6:30-9:30 p.m. Thursday, December 1, at Pavilion in the Park. Tickets are $55 per person; each ticket purchased sponsors a working homeless individual for one full week at Our House. “It’s a win/win,” Caldwell said.

Caldwell—who is an Arkansas State University graduate and the communications coordinator for Delta Dental of Arkansas—first got involved with Our House when she worked for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Arkansas as the development director. “I had the pleasure of working with a couple of highly involved community advocates who were also volunteering at Our House. They introduced me to Georgia Mjartan, the executive director. I highly respect Georgia, the community advocates who introduced me to Our House and its mission, so when I began working for Delta Dental and was given the opportunity to volunteer at the organization, I took it with enthusiasm.”

In addition to her work with Our House, Caldwell is also involved with The Boys and Girls Club and the Baptist Health Foundation, and she’s on the steering committee for Create Little Rock, the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce’s young professionals group.

At Delta Dental, Caldwell is responsible for handling many of the company’s charitable giving initiatives. “I have truly become passionate about improving dental care in Arkansas,” she said. “Most people don’t realize how important your dental health is for your overall health. Plus, I’m a sucker for happy endings, and nothing is better than when a child’s toothache is relieved and he is able to go back to school and actually concentrate instead of sitting in pain.”

Caldwell is also passionate about traveling, which she says consumes “a lot of [her] money and vacation days. I’ve been to more than 25 countries and will add Turkey to that list after a trip in the spring,” she said.

Currently though, her jet-setting is on the backburner as she works to make Tie One On a record-breaking fundraiser for Our House. As co-chair, she’s got a lot of responsibility on her shoulders, but she said, “I’m out there helping to get sponsorships and auction items. I’m not any more important than anyone else on the committee; I just get to talk more!”

For more information about Tie One On, visit or call 374-7383.

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