A local nonprofit, a small business and three non-traditional college students were the recipients of charitable donations totaling nearly $4,350 that were doled out during the 2024 M.A.Y.O.R.'s (Making Achievements Yielding Outstanding Results) Ball.
The fifth annual event, a masquerade ball with a Mardi Gras theme, was held Jan. 27 in the El Dorado Conference Center.
Presented each year by former El Dorado Mayor Veronica Smith Creer under her M.A.Y.O.R Sunshine banner -- with assistance from El Dorado native Terry Davis of the Georgia-based My'StiQ Entertainment, an event management company --, the ball is part social event and part philanthropic endeavor.
The first M.A.Y.O.R.'s Ball was held days before Smith-Creer took office on Jan. 1, 2019 and she pledged to continue the event after leaving office in at the end of 2022 as part of efforts to serve the community.
Proceeds from the ball are donated to charitable causes and have supported research for sickle cell disease (Smith-Creer's younger sister, Vemetric Smith-Foster, 46, died in 2017 from complications of the disease); small businesses/entrepreneurs and the Downtown Business Association; and Turning Point of South Arkansas.
This year's nominees were Jason Alan's Barber College; The Kidney Foundation, in care of Angela Goodwin and Andre Singleton, both kidney transplant recipients; U R Not Alone Foundation: Suicide Awareness and Ruth Royalty Scholarship Foundation for cancer awareness.
Awards were announced during the ball.
The 2024 recipients are the Ruth Royalty Scholarship Foundation ($1,000) and Jason Alan's Barber College ($250).
JABC, owned and operated by barber Jason Fries, opened in 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Several students have since gone through the program, which includes 1,500 hours and takes about 10 months to complete.
Alan has said the curriculum is wide-ranging with 21 chapters that expand beyond hair-cutting to include personal skills, the history of barbering, shaving, coloring, facials, anatomy and razor shaves.
JABC also participates in community-service activities, including providing free or discounted haircuts and other services and toy giveaways during the holiday season.
To learn more about JABC, 200 W. Locust, call 501-515-4209.
The Ruth Royalty Scholarship Foundation was created in honor of Union County resident Ruth Green, who died of ovarian cancer on Sept. 5, 2022. Green was 59 years old.
To help raise awareness about cancer, the RRSF held the first-ever Family & Friends Extravaganza, a community event, in Mattocks Park last year.
The event was free and open to the public and included free food, music, games, door prizes, guest speakers and vendors.
Organizers, including Green's daughter Amelia Frazier, have said they plan to make the Family & Friends Extravaganza an annual event to give back to the community and select cancer patients/survivors to "bless" with assistance, support and a source of inspiration, using the hashtag, #Nobody-FightsAlone.
For more information about or to donate to the RRSF, call Green at 469-690-3039 or send an email to [email protected].
Of the awards, Smith-Creer said, "It was a great way to start the year and to build on the brand of Making Achievements Yielding Outstanding Results."
Awards were also announced for a new scholarship fund that is aimed at helping and encouraging non-traditional college students in El Dorado and Union County to pursue their educational and entrepreneurial goals.
The Mitchell Freeman Educational and Entrepreneurial Scholarship Fund was recently formed by Houston attorney and El Dorado native Idonia Mitchell Gardner,
Gardner said the scholarship honors her late parents, Lonnie Mitchell and Ruby Freeman, both of whom were business owners who served the community in the 1950s, 60s and 70s in El Dorado, not only by providing goods and services, but also jobs during legalized racial segregation in El Dorado.
Gardner said her experience with her own educational goals informed her decision to create the scholarship fund.
She was in her mid-30s when she went back to school and went on to earn her Master's of Public Service from the Clinton School of Public Service and a J.D. from the William H. Bowen School of Law at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
She completed her course work in seven years, wrapping up in 2009 at the age of 43.
The first three recipients of the Mitchell Freeman Educational and Entrepreneurial Scholarship Fund are Angula Davis, Serena Morris and Cassundra Williams-Rester.
Davis is a 1986 graduate of El Dorado High School and holds bachelor's and master's degrees in music education.
She is pursuing a doctorate of education in instructional leadership from Northcentral University, a private online program.
Morris, a mother of three, is working toward an AA from SouthArk and expects to graduate in December.
Morris plans further her education by pursuing a bachelor's degree in business administration/management, with a minor in psychology.
Williams-Rester is a licensed cosmetologist and owner/operator of Rester's Part II and Part IV Barber and Beauty Shops in El Dorado and Smackover, respectively.
Williams-Rester is also enrolled in SouthArk and plans to graduate with an associata's degree in May.
She plans to follow up with the pursuit of a bachelor's degree in exercise science or physical therapy.
Each recipient was to have received $500 but in an unexpected twist during the M.A.Y.O.R.'s Ball, an attendee offered to match the total $1,500 amount of the scholarships, so each candidate was awarded $1,000.
Gardner has said that candidates for the MFEESF do not have to own a business but could potentially be an entrepreneur.
Community service is another strong consideration that is given to applicants, she said.
For more information about the FEESF, call Gardner at 832-560-8020.