Wondering what to wear this fall, and where to get the latest fall fashions in El Dorado?
If so, you're in luck, because Southern Realty Group (SRG) has organized a fashion and art show benefiting The CALL of Union County, where local residents will have the opportunity to see the latest fall trends from El Dorado's top boutiques.
"It's going to be a legit fashion show. There will be a catwalk, with VIP seating right along the catwalk," said Karen Hicks, The CALL's Union County coordinator. "(Boutiques) will have models that will showcase their fall lines."
The event is a first for The CALL, and Hicks said it's only the second large-scale fundraiser the nonprofit has held, the first being a banquet presented in 2019 which helped raise funds for The CALL's support center at the corner of Fifth and Euclid streets.
"The SRG ladies and I were kind of visiting about some different things we could do -- I mentioned that I needed a big fundraiser, but my volunteer base has just gotten down to hardly anything. They said 'why don't you just let us host something,' and that amazing group of ladies has taken this and ran with it," Hicks said.
Cynthia Meadows, one of the co-owners of SRG, said organizing the fashion show -- which is set for next Tuesday, Sept. 27, at 6 p.m. at the First Financial Music Hall -- was a group effort between herself, firm co-owner Ashlee Allen, and agents Shasta Mills and Blaklee Ramsey.
"Ashlee and I -- we had been friends for years, and doing real estate, but we actually met many, many years ago during Service League; she and I worked events together during Service League, so we have a working background of events, like golf tournaments, galas and things like that. And Blaklee... also worked some events like that," Meadows said. "It made it easier to put it together with the experience we had."
Part of SRG's mission, Meadows said, is to give back to the community. The agency also has an annual donation drive for the Salvation Army and has previously made donations to HOPE Landing and participated in the downtown holiday lighting ceremony.
"That is one of our main things that we love to do is give back," Meadows said.
For this event, Meadows said she and the other agents started brainstorming ideas about a year ago. Since they're located in downtown El Dorado, they thought it would be nice to highlight some of the other local businesses located around them, and the idea for a fashion show took off from there.
"We are kind of extra, so we like to think way out of the box," said Meadows. "(The event will be) action packed. 'The Greatest Show' is our theme, so it will be very circus-like."
South Arkansas Community College President Bentley Wallace will serve as "ringleader for the night" as emcee of the event. Performances from Bravo Dance Center are also on the event program, as well as an art show featuring work by children in foster care who The CALL serves and other local artists.
"The Pottery House, Pam (Vernon) there has scheduled times for all our foster children, for their families to bring them in to create art, canvasses, that you can purchase in a silent auction there," Hicks explained.
Funds raised through the event will go toward The CALL's general operating expenses, specifically to help keep the nonprofit in its support center, which first opened in February 2020.
The support center houses The CALL Mall, where local foster families can access supplies like hygiene products, clothes and toys; is a place for foster families to meet, talk and get support from one another and Hicks; and provides a home-like environment for meetings between children in foster care and their biological parents as the Department of Human Services works towards family reunification for them.
"Having a safe place -- that's very important that our families have a safe place they can come and talk, commune with each other, get training and build on the wealth of each other. The support center offers that in a way that's organic," Hicks said.
Hicks estimated that foster families drop by the support center 10-12 times a week, and this month, DHS has three family meetings scheduled for each week. She said allowing children in foster care to visit with their parents in a home-like setting helps them ease back into familial relationships.
"It's a lot easier on our kids. It's a living room and a kitchen with toys and books. If they want to watch a movie together they can, or if they want to go outside. It's not an office-setting. Our 5 to 7 year-olds who have been through horrible things, they don't have to see their mom in an institutional-type setting; they can cuddle on the couch or do a coloring book at the kitchen table," Hicks said.
"One of my favorite stories to tell -- we had a mom, who has since been reunified; she would come early and drop off groceries, then a cook a meal when she was there with her children. That's powerful to me," she added.
Hicks noted that recruitment of foster families has been down lately; but, she said the on-boarding process for new foster families is easier now than ever before.
"The biggest piece of our ministry is recruitment... We can now on-board a family with one-on-one meetings. They can reach out to me directly and lot of it can be done from the comfort of their own home," she said.
Meadows said in her own experience, anyone can make an impact.
"Nobody is ever too small to make a difference," she said, adding, "Our community supports one another and this is just another way we want to be a small part of that, and we hope to do different things like this for other organizations in the future."
SRG's Mills said tickets are available at the event's spotlight boutiques, including Sports Alley, Ken's Discount, Too Spoiled Rotten, Southern Threads, Sweet & Sassy, Especially For You, The Perfects and Me & Maude, as well as the SRG office at 311 E. Main. They can also be purchased online at eventbrite.com/e/fashion-and-art-show-benefitting-the-call-tickets-405364946467 (the link is available on the event's Facebook page, "Fashion and Art Show Benefitting The Call") or purchased at the door.
Doors will open next Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. and the show starts at 6 p.m. in the Murphy Arts District's First Financial Music Hall, 101 E. Locust. The event is business casual and there will be a cash bar serving wine and beer, as well as a grazing table with heavy hors d'euvres. Children are welcome to attend, Meadows said.
"Buy a ticket, open your home -- those are my two biggest messages," Hicks said.