Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Giving Back in Arkansas

Oklahoma in the House! Rachel, Lisa, me and
Stephanie pose for a pic.
The AWBU Conference in Hot Springs last weekend was amazing. And there are so many things I want to tell you about—from the amazing sponsors (like First Security Bank and Only in Arkansas) who made the conference, the sessions and the swag possible to the amazing bloggers who gave of their time and expertise to lead groups of women in learning about writing, about blogging and technology and even Zumba. On the first full day of the conference, I got to present about writing, which I was proud and humbled to do. But let me be clear; it had been a long day.

Like, a really, really long day.

And I kicked off my session (with some prompting by my good friend Stephanie) with a lip-synch performance featuring the Oklahoma Women bloggers shown in this picture (though somehow Rachel skipped the festivities and filmed it. I believe it may be on the YouTubes). As one does. I figured since I was one of the last sessions of the day, it would be a great way to make sure that the participants were awake and ready!

Because after I was done speaking, it was time to get busy.

That night, the bloggers of the Women Bloggers state communities did a good great thing: we packed over 10,000 meals for children in need.

We donned our hairnets and plastic aprons and gloves that were really hot and sweaty. We measured vitamins and vegetables and spices and rice (RICE GOES LAST!) into pouches which were measured and heat sealed and packed into boxes to be eventually distributed to people who need it.

It was the single most meaningful thing I did at this conference. Beyond the speakers (who were all incredible), beyond the connections, both new and seasoned, I have made with other bloggers (who are awesome), beyond the wonderful sponsors with whom the conference wouldn't be possible, beyond the wonderful hotel and the great food and all the things... we were given an opportunity to give. To be thankful for what we have and what we are able to offer.

And don't get me wrong, it was fun. It was hard work and it was great fun. Many hands make for light work, right? And great music makes that time spent paying it forward with friends even better. We worked so hard, we danced like no one was watching (even though some were periscoping) and smiled and laughed. When the gong rang and it was all over, we said a prayer to bless the food, bless the meals we came together to pack up for strangers who need them. I don't think I was the only one who cried.

These are the bags into which our meals—all 10,000+ of them—were packed.

We took pictures and videos and tweeted and shared all over social media, like bloggers do. The Arlington Hotel was gracious enough to give us a beautiful room in which to pack our meals.

Some of what went into the packages along with the yellow funnel we used to pack them.

Hearing about this food ministry and the positive impact these many meals we packed will make.

Celebrating a job well done with Stephanie C (a/k/a Oklahoma Steph) and Stephanie B (a/k/a Arkansas Steph)

The "Feed the Funnel" party we participated in helps to support people who are in a state of "food insecurity"—meaning there is a "limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe food." Find more information on The Pack Shack on their website.


  1. Definitely a weekend highlight! Great recap!

  2. Wasn't it incredible:) I loved this. Go post your link to #ThursdayThoughts

  3. It was such a great time and was such an honor to give back.

  4. This is such a great recap. I absolutely love that this give back was part of this amazing event. Go AWBU!

  5. Is that What I really Look like from behind?! Great event. This needs to happen every year at AWBU

  6. Love your recap Mari! We do need to do this or something like this every year at AWBU.

  7. What an honor to be with you all at AWBU! Hope to see around the Funnel again soon! #beneighborly