It takes a lot of hands and cleared schedules to to make Little Rock's nonprofits operate. In this feature, we’ve spotlighted five men from a variety of organizations who are pushing for a better quality of life for all residents. Whether it’s instilling valuable lessons in youth through the game of golf or working to make Little Rock and its businesses a more inclusive, accepting place, these guys are focusing their talents to help others.

Without further ado, meet five exceptional Little Rock do-gooders who carve out time to support the missions close to their hearts, and in turn, are giving back to the city they love.

Robert Moery, Campaign Manager for Governor Asa Hutchinson

The Game Changer Robert Moery, Campaign Manager for Governor Asa Hutchinson

Nonprofit: The First Tee of Central Arkansas
Role: Board of directors
Tenure: Two years

What’s the mission of The First Tee of Central Arkansas?
The First Tee is a national organization that teaches kids from all backgrounds a wide range of life skills and helps them with personal development through the game of golf. We have nine core values that our curriculum is built around: confidence, responsibility, perseverance, courtesy, judgment, honesty, integrity, sportsmanship and respect. All of those things are so important to teach at a young age.

Have you always been a big golf fan?
I haven’t. I didn’t grow up playing — our town didn’t even have a golf course. The town next to us had one, but I never really played until I got out of college in 2011. Now I love it.

What are some things you’re proud of accomplishing since becoming involved with The First Tee?
This year, I’ve been more involved in fundraising, particularly for our Governor’s Cup event in September. This event is a golf match played between members of the Arkansas House of Representatives and Senate. The night before, we have a dinner held for the members and our sponsors at our clubhouse. We have live music, a fish fry and games set up on the putting green and driving range. The team captains make their picks for the matches the next day. We upped the number of sponsors for the event and we met our goal, so I’m very proud to have been a part of the planning for that.

What’s one of the most impressive things The First Tee does for Little Rock?
Besides the personal development for young people, I think what impresses me most is the number of youth we are able to serve. In 2014, our chapter reached roughly 4,000 kids in the central Arkansas region. Last year, that number was up to more than 11,000 and we have a goal of 15,000 for this year. At a time when technology is keeping kids indoors, our chapter has continuously looked for ways to reach more kids and it’s been successful.

Why do you think it’s important to volunteer your time to local organizations?
A community/organization is only as strong as the foundation of people it has volunteering. I get to travel all across the state and see a lot of different towns. The most successful communities and organizations, big or small, are the ones that have a solid core of people who are actively involved in making them better.

Tommy Keet, President of JTJ Restaurants LLC

The Seed Planter Tommy Keet, President of JTJ Restaurants LLC

Nonprofit: The Hat Club
Role: President
Tenure: Eight years

How did you become involved with The Hat Club of Little Rock?
I was invited to join in 2010 after the club was initially formed. I was one of the “First Forty” members. I have been on the board for the last two years and accepted the nomination as president in November of 2017.

What makes The Hat Club stand out from other organizations?
The Hat Club is a group of 120-plus guys who want to help make central Arkansas a better place to live. This year, we have already donated more than $60,000 to different organizations in central Arkansas, including the UAMS NICU, Community Connections, Project Zero and the Joseph Pfeifer Kiwanis Camp. We keep our overhead very small (no board member is paid and we have one part-time social media and graphic design expert on staff). So the great part of our group is that the money you donate actually goes to the charities we support.

How do you utilize the extensive experience you’ve acquired during your career in the restaurant biz with your work with The Hat Club?
Charities and restaurants have a lot of the same goals in that both want to give guests and donors a great experience in a fun atmosphere. That’s what we try to do at The Hat Club. When you come to one of our events, the main goal is to have a great time while helping out a great cause. You have to love a world where you can eat a plate of crawfish or golf 18 holes with friends and actually know that you are doing some good in the world. That’s truly what The Hat Club is all about.

What’s one of the most impressive things The Hat Club does for Little Rock?
I think the most impressive thing would be the fact that we exist. We are 120-plus guys that are committed to helping the community, but want to do so in a way that is fun and original. This was not a concept that started somewhere else, it was homegrown between 10 great friends who wanted to help make a difference in the community. Eight years later, The Hat Club has donated more than $400,000 to different charities.

Miguel Lopez, Hispanic Resource Officer with First Community Bank

The Bridge Builder Miguel Lopez, Hispanic Resource Officer with First Community Bank

Nonprofit: Just Communities of Arkansas (JCA)
Role: Board of directors
Tenure: Three years

Who inspired you to volunteer?
My mom is a living saint. Growing up, I always saw her go out of her way to help those in need. Even though growing up we did not have much, she always found a way to cook a little extra for the hungry or find time off from her jobs to volunteer. She instilled in me a servant’s heart. She always said, “We may not always have the time or money to give, but we must always have the heart.”

How would you summarize JCA’s mission?
JCA builds bridges. Not physical bridges, but bridges of shared understanding and respect between people who make up our community. We advance diversity, challenge the assumptions about people whose lives and backgrounds are different from our own and promote understanding and respect through educational programs and advocacy.

What are some things you’re proud to have been a part of since becoming involved with JCA?
I’m most proud of the impact the JCA and Little Rock School District partnership has had on supporting young people who face personal and systemic discrimination. I feel so strongly that every single child in Little Rock deserves the opportunity to reach their full potential, and there is no more vital place for kids to feel welcomed, loved and supported than our public schools. And for nearly two decades, JCA has provided impactful programming for thousands of LRSD students — from anti-bullying education in our elementary schools to inclusive leadership skills training in our high schools.

Why do you think it’s important to volunteer your time to local organizations?
Little Rock has given me so much: a great education (shoutout to UA Little Rock), a dream job, great friends and other amazing opportunities too long to list. After all this city has given me, it’s only right I give back.

Jeff McClure, Director of Sales & Marketing for DoubleTree by Hilton Little Rock

THE ADVOCATE Jeff McClure, Director of Sales & Marketing for DoubleTree by Hilton Little Rock

Nonprofit: Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance (AHRA)
Role: Chair of AHRA’s Bridging the Need event
Tenure: Less than 1 year

How did you become involved with AHRA?
I created a charity event for the Rice Depot that Chris Cline and I chaired from 2013 to 2015. The 2015 event was the third and final year due to Rice Depot and the Arkansas Foodbank merging. That year my mother passed away suddenly, so my heart just wasn’t into doing anything else at the time. After a few years off, I was ready to start a new event and wanted to find a local organization that had a program targeted at combating childhood hunger in Arkansas. That led me to the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance and their No Kid Hungry program. This year was our inaugural event for them.
In your opinion, what’s one of the most impressive things AHRA does for the state?
The alliance is the go-to source for accurate, timely and comprehensive information on food insecurity in Arkansas that policymakers rely on when considering their positions on hunger-related programs. They work with many partner organizations to address food insecurity in ways that not only feed the hungry, but empower low-income people with the knowledge and skills to reduce their food insecure status in the future and lead healthier lives.

What’s your goal for AHRA?
The overall goal for me is to bring awareness. Most people don’t understand that Arkansas is the third highest state in the nation in childhood food insecurity, and I want to get that message out there. My wife Kristin taught kindergarten for two years at Harris Elementary and I saw firsthand how much a child’s education can be affected just by being hungry.

Why do you think it’s so important to serve within your community?
A quote that always sticks in my mind is by Max Lucado, “No one can do everything, but everyone can do something.” There are so many areas of need out there that everyone can find somewhere to devote some time, no matter how little or big that might be.

Antwan Phillips, Attorney with Wright Lindsey & Jennings

The Forward Thinker Antwan Phillips, Attorney with Wright Lindsey & Jennings

Nonprofit: Think Big Little Rock (TBLR)
Role: Co-chair
Tenure: Two years

What’s the mission of TBLR?
TBLR’s mission is to improve the overall community in the Little Rock metro for young professionals. TBLR created task forces to research and develop recommendations for six priority areas: transportation and environment, public education, public safety and governance, diversity and inclusion, economic development and arts and culture. More than a year after embarking on this process, TBLR published a final report that outlines all of the recommendations in each of the areas.

What’s something you’re proud of contributing to the TBLR team?
I’m happy I was able to work with a number of people who were as committed as I am about improving the quality of life of people ages 25-40 who call Little Rock home. I’m happy TBLR has started energized conversations about many issues in Little Rock.

You’ve also been a longtime volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arkansas. How do you carve time out for volunteering?
Two very clear answers: my wife, Taneesha Phillips, and little sleep. First, Taneesha has been unbelievably supportive of my interest in improving our community. I’m forever grateful to her for giving me the space and support to be active in multiple organizations. Second, I learned in college that sleep does not make your dreams come true. For me to accomplish my dream of making Little Rock the attractive, thriving, entertaining, prosperous city that I want it to be, it means working more and sleeping less.

Many people discount serving the community because their lives are already busy. What would you say to that?
Anyone who knows me knows I’m a big fan of Jay-Z. His lyrics have been inspirational for me for years. With regard to serving your community, my favorite Jay-Z verse is: “And there are much bigger issues in the world, I know, but first I had to take care of the world I know. I’m from the bottom so I still feel them at the bottom.” What that means to me is that if you live in this community, you have to take care of this community. Who better to improve the life in Little Rock than the people who know it the best?