Mary Beard set out on a bold mission to enrich lives through the work of the Pine Street Free Clinic of Conway inspiring future generations by her example.
She forged ahead, often going against conventional wisdom, to pursue the work of building a nonprofit health clinic that would offer free medical care, testing and health services to low income, unemployed and uninsured people in central Arkansas.
Because of her efforts in this venue and her belief that education is the great leveler among people, Beard was awarded an honorary doctorate of human letters by Hendrix College during a ceremony in Reves Recital Hall.
Before the faculty of Hendrix, a host of friends, family and admirers, Beard was hailed for her humanitarian labors by Dr. J. Timothy Cloyd, president of Hendrix College.
The Pine Street Clinic was founded in 2002 by Beard, who is a registered nurse at St. Vincent Infirmary Medical Center in Little Rock. The clinic is at the corner of Ingram and Spruce streets, in a neighborhood where Beard grew up and was schooled. She later graduated from Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif.
While the free clinic is Beard’s essential motivation, she has inaugurated an academic outreach center to serve area residents, mostly young students. In a residence on Ingram Street, only blocks away from the clinic, she installed an array of computers and other educational tools to bring her ambitions to the fore.
This outreach center provides tutoring services for 5th to 12th grade students plus enrichment courses for kindergarten to 5th grade students
With Beard looking on Thursday, Dr. Cloyd said: " Mary Beard has demonstrated deep empathy for residents of this community who need access to education and health care and she translated that empathy into action. She is an exemplar of our values as a college and a tremendous example to our students."
When she received the award, many in the medical community and elsewhere applauded in the belief that it was only fitting that she be honored in such fashion.
Witty, bright and dedicated seem to be the telltale attributes of Beard, who is constantly plotting new approaches to stimulate patient care.
"The medical community in Conway has given us wonderful support, "she says of the many volunteers who support the work of the clinic. "We have tried to serve people who have basic needs and we’ve reached out to offer specific services for diabetics, mental health and Alzheimer’s victims."
During the convocation, it was said of Beard: She has helped to nourish quite literally the mind, body and spirit that reside at the heart of liberal arts ideals through the founding of the Pine Street Clinic.
"By serving the needs of the community, her work has reached across barriers both tangible and perceived, to connect individuals from all walks of life in works that benefit those in need and enrich the spirit of those who serve," Dr. Cloyd proclaimed.