The more things change, the more they stay the same.
That idiom has come to mind numerous times throughout the planning of this issue, but it stands solidly in the foreground as team members, past and present, took time to mine their memories of Soirée. No matter the year, no matter the climate, common truths shone through.
The stories that stood out most to editors were the ones in which they made deep connections with the people or causes they wrote about. The photo shoots our art directors loved most were the ones in which creativity was kindled, challenges met and something beautiful brought to life.
Most striking of all by far, however, is the first editor's letter written by Becki Moore in Little Rock Soirée's debut issue on March 12, 2002. Though written 20 years ago, it reads exactly as if it were written at, say, the tail end of a pandemic. She writes:
Why would I start a new magazine, especially one that puts a spotlight on social events and gatherings — now? That’s the question people have been asking me. I assume they mean now, as in post-Sept. 11; now, as in when the economy is headed south; now, as in don’t you know we’re supposed to be on heightened alert status?
I can’t think of a better time to launch a magazine to highlight events that support the work of nonprofit organizations. Within these pages are pictures of local heroes — men and women who give their time and money to support and enhance the quality of life we enjoy tremendously in Little Rock, Arkansas.
It’s rare for a city our size to be able to support through fundraising and patronage a symphony orchestra, a world-renowned arts center, a professional theater, nine unique museums, an IMAX theater, an award-winning children’s theater, an accredited zoo, a performing arts center and an abundance of parks and historic neighborhoods.
Even rarer still are the number of quality, specialized health care facilities that serve everyone from newborns to the elderly, all of which have dedicated volunteers and donors to help raise money and spirits.
Organizations exist in our city to feed the hungry, clothe and house the poor, aid battered women and provide children a head start. Others fight injustice; counsel, educate and support those with life-threatening diseases; and provide affordable lodging to those who seek treatment.
There are people who protect our natural resources, save historic neighborhoods, care for animals, keep our city beautiful, teach people to read, volunteer in schools of all sizes, give scholarships and support their alma maters.
The people you see in this issue have raised more than half a million dollars in just over a month through fundraisers that committees have been planning for more than a year! Scores more of these special events are planned in the next few months. I hope to be at most of them, and I hope to see you at them as well.
2022 marks my eighth year on Team Soirée, my fifth as editor, and every issue further cements one truth, a truth Becki knew long before writing any of those words: "The heart of this city is enormous."
And I am forever grateful to get to share it with you.