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Local Business Hosts Saturday Event Offering Free Education To Families

April 20th, 2021 by
Dillard

Bettye Dillard and Marvin Jones of Dillard Funeral Home hosts meaningful community events through the business in hopes of igniting the spirit of entrepreneurship.

Southeast Arkansas has had its fair share of issues after a year of pandemic-fueled economic job cuts and a health crisis that hit close to every home, but relief is in sight for farmers and their families.

The Arkansas Human Development Corporation is providing free training, education and job placement to families who have worked in the farming industry across Drew County, Ashley, Chicot and surrounding communities. Individuals can register at a community education fair Saturday April 24th at Dillard Funeral Home, 738 E. Oakland Street, in Monticello from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. where there will also be refreshments and attractions for children. Organizers will observe social distancing standards, and CDC public health recommendations.

The educational grants from the AHDC will help farm workers and their college-age family by covering a full year of tuition in a career of their choice. They can also get books, supplies and a stipend for expenses.

“It’s the perfect opportunity for our families to get a free education when they may not otherwise be  able to afford it,” said Pear Lee Byers, Employment Specialist with the AHDC, who will be recruiting participants at the event. “If they’re interested in going to school, we’ll pay for it. If they want to continue to work on a farm, they can do that, but we’ll provide new skills and help them to negotiate for higher wages or a promotion.”

The event is also an opportunity for families to register for Head Start programs starting in August. And, they can tour the new Dillard Funeral Home and get to know the staff there. The goal of the AHDC organization is to create opportunities to help individuals achieve their potential. Collaborations with local businesses is key to their strategy.

“Job training and free education is just what the community needs, and right now it couldn’t be more timely,” said Marvin Jones, manager of Dillard Funeral Home Monticello. “People are looking for ways to expand their opportunities without having to go too far.”

Dillard has locations in Eudora and Dermott and has been a big supporter of education and entrepreneurship. Managers said they are looking for youth they can mentor in business as they expan in Monticello.

“We wanted to help with this endeavor because we are farmers too,” added co-owner Bettye Dillard. “We know how important their contributions are, and we also understand the challenges they have faced.”

Business founder, John W. Dillard, grew up farming in Louisiana and continues to have a love of land as a farmer today. He studied at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville and became a high school superintendent.  He coached and mentored youth while running Dillard Funeral Home in Dermott and Eudora for years before retiring–solidifying an appreciation for business, farming and education.

“When I think about the good that training and education has done for our communities, I feel blessed to be able to play a small part in helping farmers of all ages and their children by supporting the AHDC program,” Mr. Dillard said. “I also believe in mentoring young people so they can become future leaders.”

The AHDC program is versatile in that it accommodates all types of programs, such as truck driving, welding, cooking as well as higher education. If the farmer in the family doesn’t want to take classes, no problem. They can use the benefits to help their college-aged children, said Byers

Anyone who has worked on a farm in the past two years and any of the people in their household age 18-24 who wants an education, can benefit from this, Byers said. “We like to pay for tuition, books, supplies. We give them a stipend if they have to travel. We give them a gas and food voucher.”

She said the program has had good success in the Little Rock area and is expected to do well in Southeast Arkansas. Participants who have completed the program have found jobs throughout the state.  For example, those studying truck driving have increased their earnings after being placed with companies and some have become owner-operators.

Byers chose Dillard Funeral Home Monticello to host the event because it’s conveniently located off Highway 35 as you come into Monticello, and it gives the community a way to explore a new business. There is a spacious outdoor area to allow for safe social distancing. Hand sanitizer, face masks and a care bag will be provided to visitors while supplies last.

For additional program information, visit http://arhdc.org or contact Pear Lee Byers at 870-382-2050 or pbyers@arhdc.org. Reach out to Dillard Funeral Home at 870-224-8103 to schedule a free life-planning consultation or to express interest in mentoring.

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