Nominees have been announced for the 2016 Wilbur Awards for Community Leadership presented annually to individuals, organizations, and student leaders who epitomize the power of one entity or individual to positively impact our community and region as models of effective leadership and of working together with others to make best use of resources for our community’s best future.

Named in honor of Wilbur Smith, anyone in the community is eligible to be nominated for, or to be honored with, a Wilbur Award.  All nominees will be honored at the 7th Annual Lunch with Leaders on April 12, 2016 at 11:30AM at the Texarkana Country Club.  Listed below is one honoree in each category that will be presented with the Wilbur Award for 2016.

Organization Honorees

Caddo Area BSA Council

Troop 16 FBC

Community service is at the heart of this BSA troop, which is the largest troop in our area.  Troop 16 completed 1250 community service hours in 2015. The mission of Boy Scouts and Troop 16 is to prepare young people to make ethical choices over their lifetime by instilling in them the value of the scout oath/law. Some of the organizations they have assisted just to name a few are American Cancer Society, Texarkana Animal Shelter, First Baptist Church (Moores Lane), Salvation Army and many others. These young men and their leaders are making a big difference to lift our community and leave it better than ever one service hour at a time.

 Domestic Violence Prevention

Over the last year, Domestic Violence Prevention, has sheltered 82 adult victims of violence and 62 children at their safe house. In addition, Domestic Violence Prevention has served 394 non-sheltered victims of violence. The crisis line is answered 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.  It has received over 2,000 crisis calls. There are many organizations that support DVP such as Capitol One, Wadley Auxiliary and the United Way.   DVP also has a program called Child Safe. It provides children a safe plan to use when there is an outbreak of violence in their home and conflict resolution skills so that they do not repeat the violence.

 Habitat for Humanity

Many people in the community are not aware that there is a local Habitat for Humanity, but there is, and it is thriving.  It was formed in the late 80s and since then it has built/remodeled no fewer than fourteen homes in the Texarkana community.  Habitat does not give away homes, it assists people to buy a home that could never qualify otherwise, because the mortgage is at 0% interest -- “a hand up, not a hand out.” This alone raises the self-esteem of the new homeowner. The new homeowner is required to put in “sweat equity” hours in that they assist in building their own homes. During the build, Habitat depends on local businesses for teams of laborers as well as individuals to participate in the build.  Local restaurants donate lunches for all volunteers. Habitat has done all of this without an Executive Director.  Habitat is Texarkana at its best.

 Kiwanis of Texarkana

The focus of the Texarkana Kiwanis Club is to improve the quality of life for children in our community.  The club provides funding support to multiple organizations including Boy Scouts, Bowie County Special Olympics, CASA, Challenged Outdoorsmen, Domestic Violence, Harvest Texarkana, Literacy Council, Partnership for the Pathway, Running WJ Ranch, Stuff the Bus, TAMUT Young Writer’s Program, Teen Court of Texarkana, and Watersprings Ranch–just to name a few.   They support youth programs (K-Kids, Builders, Key Clubs) at every level in area schools, and provide scholarships to TC for area youth.  The Club sponsors Aktion clubs at Texarkana Resources and Opportunities for those individuals to participate in a service club. Kiwanis volunteers also fund and build ramps for disabled individuals at their homes each year, in serving the Texarkana community.

Adult Honorees

Terri Arnold

In 2015, Terri launched a new creative event for Texarkana, in support of the work of the Alzheimer’s Alliance.  The event was the Twice As Fine Texarkana Wine Festival– a celebration of food, art, music and wine, which, in its first year, was the second largest event in Texarkana with over 5,000 in attendance. In her new role as Executive Director of this Tri-State Alzheimer’s support organization, she is able to draw on her history leading the Komen Foundation’s Texarkana Race for the Cure, a community-wide team effort which has attracted as many as 10,000 people.

Kristi Bennett

Kristi is a 10-year police officer with the Texarkana, Ark., Police Department.  She currently serves as the Public Information Officer and also organizes many police related community events such as the National Night Out, Shop with a Cop, Cops and Kids.  Kristi conceived and implemented a community oriented service program targeting school aged students from 5th to 12 grade called PRIDE (Personal Responsibilities in Daily Efforts). Officer Bennett also revitalized the Citizen Police Academy in 2016.  Adults can participate in an overview of how the Texarkana Arkansas Police Department operates on a daily basis.  She is very active in the community.

Essie Dodd

Essie Dodd taught school for 40 years at TISD.  Many of her students remember her as a lady with character and grace.  She has worked in her church for many years and most recently volunteered at Dunbar and Westlawn Elementary to mentor students.  She volunteered at the HOSTS program.  She remains active at age 92 in her sorority where she has been a member for over 50 years.  Essie remains very active in Gamma Kappa Zeta Chapter, serving as chairperson of the project committee for a number of years and currently serves as Keeper of Documents. She has also volunteered in many community activities with her sorority and church.

Thelma Metcalf Forte

Thelma Metcalf Forte is a servant leader able to adapt her leadership behaviors, characteristics, and ‘tendon’ to every situation or group she interacts with.  She is a change agent. This can be seen in her work and accomplishments for the past year as a designated Master Principal.  Her contributions to education have made changes for the better for schools and she has maintained, sustained, and surpassed those changes in particular areas.  Because of her work, Union received the National School Change Award from the National Principal’s Leadership Institute, one of the only three schools in the nation to receive the award. Math scores rose from 59 percent to 94 percent passing. Discipline referrals fell 90 percent from initial reports of 1,000 referrals per year. Teachers strive for positions on Union’s campus. For her work, Thelma has received many honors.

Phillip Parrish

Phillip Parrish is a great community leader that seeks to connect the spiritual community together by providing leadership training and activities for others.  In February 2016, he hosted a spiritual conference where he brought leaders to the city to provide our area with a broad scope of leaders to enhance leadership skills.  Not only does he exemplify leadership skills, he also is very supportive of other leaders and very willing to serve.

Alwin Smith

Alwin does many, many things behind the scenes that not many people know about.  He does a substantial amount of pro bono –or substantially reduced fee–legal work.  He is a very devoted church member and is DA for Little River County.  He mentors other lawyers in the community.  Positions held include: Past Coach and Commissioner of Dixie Youth Baseball, Former Treasurer and Board member of Domestic Violence, General Counsel of Samaritan Charities, Christian Ambassadors, Chairman of Gateway Farm Children’s Home and many others.

 Cathy Smith

Cathy Smith devotes her life to helping populations without a voice.  She is a tireless advocate for the homeless and for animals.  She implemented a cooking class at the RANDY Sam’s’ Outreach Shelter, she works diligently with the Texarkana Homeless Coalition, was a founding member of the Mardi Bras movement to provide feminine hygiene products for women experiencing homelessness and was instrumental in helping guide people to vote in multiple social media contests including the Bark for the Park efforts and many others.

Youth Honorees

Kaylene Ferguson

Kaylene is a consistent A Honor Roll student at College Hill Middle School and community volunteer.  She is the top student in the 5th grade class.  She gives her time and talent to all she comes in contact with.  She is a volunteer at the Randy Sam’s Shelter with Tabernacle Baptist Church. She participates with the Susan G Komen Race for the Cure.  She is a born leader and her abilities and skills are far beyond her years.  She took it upon herself to learn sign language to assist students at school during performances so that they would understand what was going on. Kaylene was chosen as an outstanding young leader by her counselor and attended a week long seminar in Washington, D.C.

Brenton (Brent) Graham

Brent currently serves as president of the Liberty-Eylau High School Student Council.  Under his leadership, the organization was recently named the District 19 StuCo Treasurer and Sweepstakes winner.  He was selected as one of the Outstanding Young Men of Texarkana by the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority in January 2016.  He received the Rotary Youth Leadership award 2015 and participated in Leadership Texarkana’s Today’s Youth Tomorrow’s Leaders.  Brent has earned 22 college hours while earning a 3.8 high school GPA. He has an outstanding ACT score and plans to major in accounting.

 Kayce Welch

Kayce is a senior at Texas High who serves her community and school as well.  In 2009, Kayce was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, which controlled her life.  She decided to not let the disease adversely affect her and participated in Tigervision, Soccer, Student Council and other school events.  She created the “One of a kind Diabetes Program” in Texarkana to support 150 school-aged children, their families and other adults living with Type 1 diabetes. She has raised over $30,000 for the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation and KIDS camp for children with diabetes.  Her awards include: National Honor Society Induction in 2014, Prudential Spirit Award- Distinguished State Finalist- Texas- 2015 & 2016 and Gold Award- Girl Scouts USA, 2015.