VILONIA — A newly formed Vilonia K-Life organization has a goal to help "make the pieces fit" for children in the community, according to the organizers.
Matt Mosler, KARK 4 Today anchor, served as the emcee and guest speaker at a fundraising banquet held at the Vilonia High School cafeteria Thursday night. With about 300 in attendance, Mosler used humor throughout the evening to get the organization’s message across. The organization’s theme, he said, is "together we can make the pieces fit."
Mosler told the audience he grew up in a house with a mother who was serious about putting puzzles together. She would spread the pieces out on a table and they were to remain untouched by everyone in the house until the puzzle was complete, he said.
"Those scattered pieces didn’t look like they belonged," Mosler told the audience. "When she got through putting all of those pieces together, it turned out to be a beautiful picture. Look around your community, I bet you will see some of those scattered pieces that look like they don’t belong. That is why we are here."
It was explained that K-Life is a religious based organization targeting youth seventh through 12th grade. The youth ministry, he said, focuses on mentoring and coaching teenagers. A non-denomination organization, there are weekly meetings, special events as well as small group Bible studies with mentors.
"We aren’t trying to take the place of a church," Mosler said. "We are just another resource to help them."
Kyle Unruh, national president of the K-Life, was introduced. He joked that he is from Branson, Mo., a place where he lives in a Time Share and uses his AARP card. The first time he came to Vilonia, he said, was about six months ago prior to the April tornado. He described himself as a "balcony person" cheering the community on. Addressing the progress since the tornado, he said he was touched and honored to be in a community that has "great resolve."
He also touted the benefits of the organization. He said, there are 38 in communities across the U.S. including one in Conway.
A couple of others also spoke including Mike Wallace, Vilonia K-Life president. It was said the organization must raise $50,000 prior to launch the program. He asked attendees to pledge a one-time donation or monthly pledge.
"There has been a lot of hours put into this," he added.
Wallace turned his attention to Vilonia resident and board member Pam Lawrence, who was in the audience, saying she had been trying to get the organization going in Vilonia for the past 10 years. After the event, Lawrence said, her goal 10 years ago was to start a chapter in Vilonia to help her son who needed "a little extra support." At that time, she said, she was unable to establish it but never put the thought away.
In the audience were politicians including Sen. Gilbert Baker and Justice of the Peace Steve Goode. Baker gave the invocation prior to the meal. Also, there were celebrities including Junior Miss Vilonia 2011 Hayley Hicks and American Idol winner Kris Allen and his wife Katy. Chef Paul Uher and his wife Donna of Humprey, prepared the meal and visited with attendees.
A program listed the board members as Mike and Barbara Wallace, Mike and Elizabeth Sowder, Jackie and Pam Lawrence, Shane and Susan Dickson, Aaron and Cara Cates, John and Janice Allison, Charlie and Kelley Thomason, Matt and Teela Baxter, Mark and Tara Gunter and Eric and Melanie Albat.