This year marks the 20th anniversary of Home for Healing, and the nonprofit will celebrate in spooky style with its annual Monster Bash this month.
But behind the cobwebs of Home for Healing’s largest fundraiser (it brings in almost a third of operation costs) is a mission to care for people in their most vulnerable times, providing residence and services for parents of NICU infants, individuals undergoing cancer treatment and their caregivers.
Ahead of the event, Soirée sat down with Monster Bash co-chairs Rennie and Dr. Brad Jenkins to talk about their love of Little Rock, how their backgrounds line up with the Home for Healing cause and how this year’s event puts the care in scare.
As native central Arkansans, what's something people often get wrong about the area?
RJ+BJ: We cannot really identify a misunderstanding, but we can tell you why it stands out. Central Arkansas stands out due to its unique blend of rural and urban environments. This mix allows residents to experience the tranquility of the countryside while having access to the conveniences and social opportunities of the city.
Rennie, what advice do you have as a realtor for someone looking to make Little Rock feel like home?
RJ: Explore its diverse neighborhoods, meet locals through events, sample our incredible cuisine, visit landmarks connected to our history and enjoy nature in the numerous parks and trails.
Brad, you studied at UAMS, then went out of state for your residency. What is it about the region's medical scene that drew you back?
BJ: I came back primarily to central Arkansas to serve the community in which I grew up. I was blessed in that Baptist Health gave me the opportunity to practice primary care and emergency medicine in my hometown. Having attended UAMS, I was aware of the specific medical needs of central Arkansas and knew the area offered excellent specialists that could assist me in providing the best possible care for my patients.
With Rennie's career in homes and Brad's in healing, your involvement with Home for Healing seems meant to be. What drove you to get involved with the nonprofit?
RJ+BJ: As a realtor, Rennie understands the value of home and families needing a peaceful, restorative environment. As a physician, Brad sees families struggling with cancer and new parents with premature babies in the NICU. By providing all the comforts of home, Home for Healing allows guests to focus on their healing journeys in a cost-free, warm and welcoming environment.
Rennie, you have a background in special education and early intervention developmental therapy. Brad, you have specialties in family medicine and family practice. How do those factors impact how you approach your work with Home for Healing?
RJ: Prior to real estate I provided therapy to families and young children with special needs in their homes. Having had a daughter with a rare genetic disorder, I am acutely aware of the difficulties that come with extended hospital stays. When my daughter Carlie was born, I lived in De Queen, which is a three-hour drive from Little Rock. Had my parents not lived in the area I would have been looking at weeks and sometimes months of hotel stays while Carlie received care. Home for Healing provides restorative care in a peaceful home environment for families. You cannot put a price on the feeling of a place of belonging, a home.
BJ: I see patients and families every day affected by cancer and long-term illnesses. My dad had glioblastoma and we watched my mom tirelessly care for him. Had she not lived here locally, the struggles and difficulties we faced in that time period would have been greatly multiplied. He had daily radiation for five weeks and I cannot imagine if we had lived several hours away.
Monster Bash got a revamp a few years ago. What has that done for the event's success, and what new tricks and treats do you have up your sleeves this year?
RJ+BJ: Monster Bash has been a success for 20 years. Three years ago our executive director, Kristin Trulock, and staff wanted to take Monster Bash to the next level. There was so much talk and excitement around this event we knew we needed a larger venue to accommodate the growing number of supporters of Home for Healing. We were excited to have new volunteers joining our committee, board members and 4300 Club to brainstorm new ideas. Goals and expectations were increased with all this new rebirth of Monster Bash.
This year we have an exceptional VIP experience, well-known band Tragikly White, top-notch live and silent auction items, and most importantly, a costume contest that a local celebrity will judge.
There are many ways for community members to get involved. Whether they want to donate their time or money, we have something for everyone. The buzz from this event has us so excited because at the heart of it all are the guests we serve as they face the most challenging of times.
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