BENTON, AR – If you’ve ever served on a non-profit board in Benton, chances are, you’ve tried some of Evelyn Reed’s down home cooking.
She’s as known for her coffee cake as she is for her caring heart and dedication. That’s why she’s a Community Service Award nominee.
It’s an old tradition in the south. A new baby, death in the family or moving day, Southern women show up and bring a casserole.
“I guess my signature dish would be chicken spaghetti. I get a lot of requests for that,” says Reed.
“I have tried some of all of Evelyn’s food. I don’t know that she can mess up anything,” says Reed’s co-worker Robin Freeman.
Along with the flour, sugar and salt, Evelyn’s secret ingredient is a whole lot of love and dedication.
“She’s very committed to work in the community. If she sees a need, she is more than willing to do whatever needs to be done to get out there and do the work. Whether it’s fixing a fabulous meal for the volunteers or doing the work herself,” says Freeman.
Born and raised in Benton, Evelyn’s passion for serving others is rooted in her hometown church, Mt. Zion Baptist, where she first volunteered as Sunday School teacher, youth director and of course on the kitchen committee.
Her generosity now reaches far beyond the walls of the kitchen and Mt. Zion.
“Just a whole slew of things that she has organized over the years. I don’t care if it’s basketball games or fundraisers or the Juneteenth celebration, she’s practically done it all,” says Freeman.
Evelyn is over the scholarship program as president of the Wilma Stewart Garden Club and is president of the Ralph Bunch Community Development Corporation, which sponsors the annual Martin Luther King celebration weekend.
She’s on the board of Safe Haven, secretary of Saline County Habitat for Humanity and was recently chosen as a city council member.
selena ellis/ saline co. habitat for humanity board member
“I think every time she goes into a room, she’s elected president,” says Selena Ellis, a Saline County Habitat for Humanity board member.”I met her at the Habitat meeting. I was asked to be on the board. I walked in and there was Evelyn with just a wonderful smile on her face and so welcoming.”
karma herzfeld/ exec. dir. saline co. habitat for humanity
“Since her involvement, 30 families now are homeowners and have that sense of pride and security in home ownership,” says Karma Herzfeld, Executive Director of Saline County Habitat for Humanity.
And of course, along with her winning smile, Evelyn always shows up with food.
“I take the courier, our local newspaper and Evelyn is in that newspaper all of the time. There is a picture of Evelyn doing something good at least once a week. I said this woman, how can she do all of this?,” Herzfeld says.
Evelyn is one of our oustanding volunteers who will be honored at an awards dinner next June at the Governor’s Mansion.
Click here if you would like to nominate someone for a Community Service Award.