When you see FOX16’s Donna Terrell take her spot in the anchor chair every weeknight, she won’t be wearing a hair net. No old aprons or plastic gloves make their way to that big, shiny desk.
But when she’s not on air, that’s not such an out of the ordinary look for Terrell. For the past five years, she’s been a member of the Little Rock Chapter of The Links, Incorporated, an organization of women dedicated to enriching the lives of African Americans and other persons of color through volunteer and community service.
The Links started in 1946 when Philadelphians Margaret Hawkins and Sarah Scott decided the only way to make change happen was to work toward it themselves. The Links now consists of 280 chapters in 41 states, including the Bahamas. It also includes the Little Rock Chapter of The Links, Incorporated, which has been in operation for 58 years.
Terrell was approached regarding membership and was inducted in June 2009.
“Someone thought that maybe, just maybe, I would make a good Link,” Terrell says, “and because they believed in me, I have spent these last five years trying to do everything that I can to follow through on that belief.”
Working under the motto “Linked in Friendship, Connected in Service,” the organization is divided into five facets, or committees, into which each Link is slotted every year. These include everything from the arts to international trends and services to health and human services. The facets then work to provide the community with betterment opportunities related to each division.
Sometimes these projects mean an afternoon at the theatre, like taking a group of students to a special performance at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre, most who have never been to The Rep, and some who don’t even know it exists.
Other projects require a little more grit, like the Move Your Body event in October. Hundreds of kids and families came to the Metroplex to learn fun exercises and better ways of preparing food they already have in an effort to fight childhood obesity. Terrell and team donned the traditional lunch lady attire to serve guests healthy options, while also measuring BMI and giving away activity-promoting items like basketballs and jump ropes.
Considering the chapter’s involvement with everything from scholarship opportunities to outreach for kids with incarcerated parents, it’s surprising how the organization has continued to fly largely under the radar. While a little confusing, this seems fitting with its purpose.
“We do our work for the community, but we don’t necessarily go out and boast about it. This is something that’s in our hearts and our spirits. We just feel like it must be done,” Terrell says. “And if you go into some neighborhoods and you mention the Little Rock Chapter of The Links, Incorporated, they know exactly who we are.”
Her passion for community service may have been what initially got her involved in the chapter, but she soon learned that being a Link means much more than fulfilling a number of community service hours.
In 2011, Terrell lost her daughter Queah, 34, after a long battle with colon cancer, a devastating loss that her fellow Links helped her through.
“I hadn’t been in the organization that long, but I had all of these women reach out to me and do everything in their power to make it easier to deal with the loss of my daughter. It’s not like I’d known them all my life, but the way that they helped me was as though we had been connected for so long.”
“And that’s why I’m a Link. We care about the community, we care about each other.”
It’s that same drive to serve that Terrell often gives her own time to. Her career in broadcast involves somewhat of an expectation for work in the community, something that makes many groan, but that she considers a perk.
Even in past cities, before her life as a Link, Terrell has made volunteer work a priority. She often finds herself going beyond expectations set by any establishment. With this mindset, when the opportunity came along for her to join the Little Rock chapter, it was “a no-brainer.”
“I decided as a young adult that doing something for someone other than myself, other than my family, to help people in need was going to be important to me,” she says. “I would not be able to tell you what that catalyst was, but it was like a lightbulb came on. I realized how good it felt when I walked from a situation where I gave of myself. It’s when you get in there and get your hands dirty, when you see that what you’re doing is making a difference, even if it’s for just one person.”
This kind of mentality bleeds into just about every aspect of her life, one often opening doors for the other. If The Links are part of a newsworthy endeavor, she’ll have an interesting story to pitch to the station. If she’s working on a story and notices a need, she’ll bring it up with The Links.
Somewhere along the line, however, Terrell became somewhat of a prominent public figure, though she doesn’t see herself as such, literally laughing at the idea. It’s not a rarity to get asked to be a part of various community service activities or emcee events or judge chili cook-offs.
Yes, she’s a newsperson whose job is to tell the public about things. Yes, she’s used to being invited to events and met with disappointment at the lack of a television crew. However, in true Link form, the prominence and the publicity are never her focus.
“No, I’m the messenger. That’s all I am. I just interview people of prominence,” Terrell said. “But if I am those other things, it’s not because that’s what I set out to do. It is because I got into a business where I thought maybe I could do something good, or be good at this and end up helping people.”
In her world, the community service, The Links, her career: It’s all seamless. Everything Terrell does is about telling stories and serving people. When asked if she’s the Donna Terrell from FOX16, of course the answer is yes, but waving her title on a banner isn’t a thought, especially when there’s chili to judge.
Perhaps her biggest labor of love for The Links is chairing the annual Holiday Jazz Brunch and Fashion Show featuring world-renown Liberian-born designer and stylist Korto Momolu. As the marquee event for the organization’s fundraising efforts, there’s much to do, not to mention all of the facets’ projects that depend on the brunch’s success.
Every scholarship, every basketball, every meal the chapter provides takes money. With over 400 guests in attendance last year, they expect even more this year at the Little Rock Marriott. But if Terrell is stressed about it, it doesn’t show. Her focus is on balancing putting on a nice event with keeping the purpose of the event at the forefront, making sure their supporters have faith in the organization’s ability to do good work.
When the event is over, no matter who was there or who is or isn’t talking about it, the most important thing to Terrell is that The Links continue their mission. She has confidence that the story will be told, whether it be by a larger press vehicle or by word of mouth from the families they help. It is simply the kind of need that doesn’t go away or ever lose its weight.
But for now, there is work to be done and Terrell is there to roll up her sleeves, determined not to lose perspective.
“We get so caught up in our own lives, myself included. My daughter passes away and the focal point is ‘woe is me, how could something so horrible happen.’ Then you go somewhere where people have not only lost children, they’ve lost everything. It’s then that you’re able to put your own life into perspective. Yeah, I’ve been dealt a bad hand, but I’m really blessed.”
“I have struggled with the loss for three and a half years, but I get these reminders that even though it’s so painful to be without her, I am still so lucky. I’m lucky to have had her and because God continues to bless me. You don’t want to forget that. If you can take some of those blessings and share with people who really need it, then that’s what it’s about.”
When: 11 a.m., Saturday, Dec. 6
Where: Marriott Little Rock
Tickets: $75 per person. Corporate Tables for prime seating also available.
Presenting the 2014 Soirée Holiday Gift Guide: Ten gift ideas for her, for the family and for him.
One of my most cherished childhood memories of the winter holiday season involved rising early and bolting out of the house without a jacket to ride my bike.
You see, I grew up in sunny San Mateo, California, where the temperatures never dipped below freezing. That meant, of course, snow never came our way. I was furious when I would lay on the floor glued to the family TV and watch news reports of blizzards in the East shutting down schools for months.
“Why do I have to go to school,” I yelled as I stomped off to kindergarten.
It wasn’t until I moved to Arkansas in the mid 1990s — when I was still a young man –— that I witnessed my first snowfall and realized all the fun I was missing.
Well, let me clarify that. It’s only enjoyable if you’re home and not on the road trying to maneuver through the blankets of ice and snow as other cars dart in and out of traffic.
Last year’s snowfall in central Arkansas made up for all the years of winter fun I missed growing up. When I woke up one Saturday morning and saw white on the ground in every direction, I knew I was going to reclaim lost childhood time, even if I received frostbite in the process.
My daughter, Sarah, couldn’t contain her excitement to play in the snow, either. So my wife Holly grabbed a plastic lid from a storage container, and I put the leash on our overgrown puppy, Buster, who is half Rottweiler, and our other dog, Sammie, a beagle mix, and headed out the door.
It still takes me a few minutes to adjust to Arkansas’ bitter cold. When the wind howls, I feel like I’m on the ice planet Hoth made famous by the “Star Wars” films.
Still, we trudged forward looking for the highest point in our neighborhood. We only stopped long enough to fire off a few snowballs. Eventually, we made it to the top of a bike path in the middle of a wooded area that would serve our purpose. We would have Buster and Sammie act as Siberian huskies and pull Sarah down the hill.
Sarah, who was light enough to be towed and only 14 at the time, was all for that. And if it worked I would go next.
Sarah sat on the lid and grabbed the leashes. I told the wild animals to wait while I made it to the bottom of the hill.
Right before I called to unleash the hounds, I froze. I was flooded with flashbacks to the opening of ABC’s “Wide World of Sports,” where that ski jumper practically tumbled to his death each week in the opening credits.
No, I told myself and chased the negative thoughts away. This was going to work.
I yelled at Buster and Sammie to come. They usually don’t do anything unless I coax them with a Milkbone, so I held one up.
The dogs focused in on their treat and raced down the hill. Sarah clutched the rope and yelled, “Faster, faster.”
All three stayed on the snow path, and eight seconds later they were at the bottom of the hill.
Since it looked safe, I thought I would try it. But I guess the dogs were too tired because I barely moved.
That was fine with me because we could walk around the neighborhood, taking in the snowy sights and crunching ice as we stepped.
Now when I hear reports of wintry weather heading to Little Rock, I don’t storm off in a huff but search for my puffy coat, gloves and hat so I can play in the snow.
For those who love to shop, Chenal is paradise. From unique boutiques and drugstores, to retailers that specialize in creating fun experiences, there’s truly a store perfect for every hobby or interest. The retailers and products shown below are some of our favorites, so make sure you stop in and see what they have to offer.
Forget Black Friday. Caroling is whatever. Snowmen? Yeah, right.
We all know the most pivotal part of the Christmas season is finding the right tree. Whether you cut down your own or meticulously comb through tree lots looking for the one, this is serious(ly fun) business.
So to help you avoid any Griswold-esque fiascos, we’ve rounded up some of the best local spots to find your very own tannenbaum to admire.
But before you go, make sure to call the farm or shop to confirm their supply, their hours and their specifications. These are all subject to change during the crazy seasonal issues of weather, demand and so on.
Now, to the list!
Motley’s Christmas Tree Farm
13724 Sandy Ann Drive
Hop on a free wagon ride into the tree farm to chop down your very own Christmas tree—saws are provided. Or, choose the perfect “Living Christmas Tree,” which comes in a potted container and can be planted outdoors after the holiday season. Hit the gift shop on your way out to choose from thousands of ornaments to adorn your freshly cut tree.
Open Nov. 15-Dec. 21: 1-5 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sat.-Sun. Closed Thanksgiving Day.
For info: (501) 888-1129, MotleysTreeFarm.com
Larry’s Christmas Trees
At the corner of Cantrell and Old Cantrell Rd.
If you’re low on time, but still want to get your hands on a great tree, stop by Larry’s. Not far from downtown and just across from the Red Door restaurant, this little lot has a great selection at great convenience. Bingo.
Open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. (which will soon change to 8 p.m.) every day
For info: (501) 565-8475
Geisler's Holiday Forest
8817 Dorsey Road
This DIY farm is a family tradition for many with free hayrides, hot spiced tea and pine boughs. They also offer free shaking and netting, and will even drill the holes in bottom of your tree trunk if your stand requires it.
Open Nov. 29 - Dec. 13 or 20: 9 a.m.-dark Sat., 1 p.m.-dark Sun. Weekends only.
For info: (501) 224-3797
The Bradbury Tree Farm
9427 Donna Lane
This farm has been growing trees since 1979; venture out into 35 acres of Virginia Pine and Leyland Cyprus to chop your own tree (saws provided). Fraser Firs that have been shipped in are also available. You can also come home with a decorative wreath or a sprig of mistletoe, if the mood strikes.
Open Nov. 27-Dec. 24; 9 a.m.-7 p.m. daily.
For info: (501) 602-2449
Muddy Creek Christmas Tree Farm
22109 Easter Lance
Get a taste of the holidays as you enjoy hot chocolate and candy canes. Then, choose and chop the perfect Cypress to tote back home and decorate with tinsel and lights. You can also choose from already-cut trees, like Fraser and Douglas Firs, and fresh wreaths.
Open Nov. 22-Dec. 21: 9 a.m.-dark Sat.-Sun.
For info: (501) 602-5943, MuddyCreekChristmasTreeFarm.com
Warner Bros. / giphy.com
Warner Bros. / giphy.com
Want more? Check out 5 Christmas Tree Farms in Little Rock and Central Arkansas from our sister publication, Little Rock Family.
At the beginning of the month, send a holiday scavenger hunt list to family members, including aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins and all of the kids, too. Encourage every family member to look for the items on the list throughout the month. When they find one of the festive items, they should document it with a photo. The goal is to photograph as many of the items as possible, and the family member with the most items checked off their list wins!
When your family gathers for a holiday celebration, each family member can share his or her photos. Or, for a twist, have everyone share their photos on social media all month long. The winner can be rewarded a small prize, gag gift or homemade treat. But the bigger prize will be bringing the family together for the holidays, sharing silly scavenger hunt stories and creating new family traditions.
Here are a few items to start your photo scavenger hunt list. Add some of your own ideas, too, and be sure to include a few family jokes!
Thanksgiving's almost here and we can barely form sentences because all we can think about is food. Lucky for us, Arkansas is home to some of the best eats in the world, amen?
We may be torturing ourselves by going through Sweet Love's Instagram feed. Cakes and sweets and cakes and pies and cookies and cakes and oh my goodness. Let's just say it's worth pang of jealousy.
Enjoy some of our fave posts and go give them a follow for more!
It's the most wonderful time of the year! Central Arkansas is ablaze with holiday light displays. Clear, multi-colored, twinkling, single strands or huge displays--we love them all! Visit these festivals and exhibits this month for a brighter holiday season, from the classic festival at Garvan Woodland Gardens to the brand-new display in downtown Little Rock.
1. Holiday Lights at Garvan Woodland Gardens: See nearly 4 million bulbs transform approximately 17 acres into a memorable animated holiday display. As you amble through through the winter wonderland, your family can sip complimentary hot cocoa. Plus, on special Santa nights, families can have their photos taken with the big guy. Professional photographer Rebecca Peterman will be on hand to snap pictures from 6-8 p.m. Dec. 8-11, 15, 17-18, which will be available for purchase. Holiday lights are on display 5-9 p.m. nightly through Dec. 31. Admission to Gardens: $10, ages 6-12 are $5, under 6 & members are free. For info: (501) 262-9300, GarvanGardens.org.
2. Holidays in the Park at First Security Amphitheater: On Nov. 29, the First Security Amphitheater in downtown Little Rock will transform into a bright winter wonderland called Holidays in the Park. The seasonal lighting display, a new attraction for Riverfront Park, will be a 10-minute show choreographed to music and can be seen each night throughout the holiday season. Holidays in the Park will run on the First Security Amphitheater stage each evening from 5:30 p.m.-10 p.m. Nov. 29-Jan. 3. Families can help kick things off at the official lighting ceremony from 3-5 p.m. Nov 29. The opening night celebration includes a meet & greet with Santa Claus, holiday cookies, beverages, crafts, games and more. For info: Rivermarket.info or HolidaysInLittleRock.com. FREE!
3. Northern Lights Festival at City Services Building in Downtown North Little Rock: The city of North Little Rock is gearing up for its first-ever Northern Lights Festival on Dec. 7, where they'll unveil a new, 20-foot tree made of LED lights. The free festivities take place from 3:30-5:30 p.m. and families can enjoy photos with Santa, free hot chocolate and performances from local choirs. Plus, kids can make holiday ornaments and cards with Art Connection, Thea Foundation and the North Little Rock Mayor’s Youth Council. Families won't want to miss the annual North Little Rock Sertoma Club Christmas Parade, which takes place right before the festival at 2 p.m. The tree will be lit each evening Dec. 7-Jan. 2 and will be located in the middle of "Trolley Plaza" in front of the City Services Building (120 Main St.) at Washington and Broadway Sts. For info: NorthLittleRock.org. FREE!
4. Arkansas State Capitol in Downtown Little Rock: Following the Big Jingle Jubilee Holiday Parade in downtown Little Rock, the State Capitol will be illuminated with its annual holiday display at 6 p.m. Dec. 6. In addition to the seasonal lights, families will catch a fireworks display. And don't forget to take in the magnificent 25-foot Rockefeller pine tree and elegant decorations in the Capitol building's rotunda. The tree's topper is a blow glass piece handcrafted by Arkansan James Hayes. Holiday lights will continue to shine each night throughout the season. For info: (501) 835-3399, HolidaysInLittleRock.com. FREE!
5. Hometown Holiday Lights at Burns Park: At this annual event, families enjoy holiday lights in a drive-through setting. More than 40 displays will be set up beginning at the Softball Complex and continuing down Funland Drive ending at Military Drive. Open 6-10 p.m. nightly except on Christmas. Donations welcome. 6-10 p.m. Nov. 29-Dec. 30. For info: (501) 753-7307, NLRPR.org. FREE!
6. A Trail of Holiday Lights at Sherwood's Enchanted Forest: Drive through this mile-long trail of lights in Sherwood Forest to spot over 92 brightly-lit displays. Don't forget to pick up a complimentary candy cane at the end of the trail. Admission is free, but donations are accepted. 6-9:30 p.m. Dec. 1-30. For info: (501) 833-3790, CityofSherwood.net. FREE!
7. 7th Annual Celebration of Lights at The Promenade at Chenal: Shoppers will delight in the animated tree and light display, which is unveiled at 5 p.m. Nov. 29 and shines throughout the holiday season. Other exciting events include free photos with Santa & Mrs. Claus (1-5 p.m. Nov. 29, 1-6 p.m. Nov. 30). 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Nov. 29. For info: (501) 821-5552, ChenalShopping.com. FREE!
For more holiday light displays throughout the state, visit the Arkansas Parks & Tourism Trail of Holiday Lights website.