At the Bryant Chamber Winter Banquet on January 25th, it was announced that Saline County Library’s Marketing Coordinator, Kari Beesley had won the award for Volunteer of the Year. Kari grew up in Bryant, AR and graduated from Bryant High School in 2011. Kari attended A.S.U. in Jonesboro and has been with the library for two years.
When did you first develop an interest in serving the community through volunteer work?
I have always loved to help. In high school, I was in so many clubs like Junior Civitan, Teachers of Tomorrow, FCA and National Honor Society. I loved the idea of giving back to the community. I was president of Teachers of Tomorrow my senior year and would pretty much spend all of my lunches preparing plans for our Homecoming dance, our classroom make-over or whatever else was needed. It has never been work for me. It is fun and I love it. My senior year I also received a scholarship from National Honor Society for most volunteer hours. To me it was just my normal routine.
What is your favorite project you’ve volunteered on?
It is really hard for me to pick one project because they all have something different about them that makes them special to me. I was a Children's Church director for a few years and that was probably the most fun and rewarding. I loved preparing the lessons and coming up with different crafts and then seeing the kids have fun and parents telling me my child couldn't stop telling me the lesson. Recently, though, my favorite project has been the Duck Derby and Bryant Fall Fest. I really wanted to do something big so I set in my mind to build a life-size maze for the kids. Some people helped me turn that into a real thing and it was a huge success that we are asked to build the maze a couple times every year. Seeing the kids travel through the maze and the parents impressed look when they see the life-size course is totally worth it!
Why are you passionate about this community?
I am passionate about our community working together. I have always wanted to be a part of the community and help it grow and succeed but building strong relationships is what makes a community a home. And we all want a place that feels like home.
What’s it like working for Saline County Library?
Taking the job as Marketing Coordinator at the Saline County Library has been so amazing. I had a job and wasn't looking for another job but saw the opening and wanted to just see if I would even make the cut. Then I got the phone call offering me the job and I knew it was where I needed to be! Being at the library has helped me to see all the different needs the community has. Whether it be our free resources and entertainment materials at the library to sharing good publicity about our local shops or volunteering at a community event, there is always a need that I can help with and it is a great feeling to be making a difference. Even when I am not the person directly making the difference, being a part of it is still amazing.
When you aren’t marketing for the library or volunteering, what do you do for fun?
I am a crafty person so I am always on Pinterest looking for a craft I can do to add some fun or organization to my house or make gifts for friends. I have built benches and shelves out of pallets, made wreaths, turned broken "junk" into functional decorations, built a fire pit, sewn blankets and aprons and even made some toys dolls. My family are also big movie watchers so we watch a movie together every day and it is a fun time to snuggle up on the couch and relax.
What are some of your favorite places to visit in Saline County?
My husband and I had a really fun date at Salty Harbor. I did not expect it to be so much fun but we laughed the whole time. Mainly because I wasn't any good but it was still fun. My whole family loves to go to Bishop Park. I can walk the track or walk outside and push baby Garrett while Dawson runs around (in eyesight!) and my husband, Shawn, plays basketball. Then, of course, I love to go to Home Depot, Lowes and Hobby Lobby but I have to limit my visits because I could easily try to buy everything in those stores!
What changes do you see in store for Saline County?
I see Bryant growing so much but at the same time, having more places for families to do things like updated parks or community areas. I have really enjoyed how both the Bryant and Benton chambers have been coming together for events lately and I hope to see that eventually the only rivalries in the county are when it comes to high school football. It is great to think of our community not as Benton, Bryant or Bauxite but instead as Saline County.
How can others get more involved in the community?
Our chambers have ribbon cuttings that everyone is invited to and that is the perfect place to get started! Go to the ribbon cuttings, meet people and eventually you will start to pick up on where help is needed. It is super simple.
I know you came from a Marketing background when you first started working for SCL. How has your view of the public libraries and their missions changed in the past few years?
To be honest, I was not one of those "I love my library" enthusiasts when I started working at the Saline County Library. I hardly went to the library. I knew they had DVDs so occasionally I would check out one or two but that was the extent of my library knowledge. Since working at the library, I have gained so much respect for public libraries and their missions to provide as many resources as possible to the community easily and affordable. There is so much that it takes to work at a library. The programming is amazing and there are easily 25 programs a week with something for every age, including adults! Plus the materials collection is constantly growing! Who knew you could check out a crockpot?!! Or Halloween costumes?! And cannot put into words how cool the online databases are. It seems like the resources are endless! My goal in helping to achieve our mission is to connect with the community as much as possible so we are constantly aware of what needs are and we try to meet them as best as we possibly can or we work with partners in our community to make it happen. It will take a while and be a continually changing effort that honeslty will never be 100% met but that is ok. Even the tiniest bit of help can lead to a massive difference.
All Award Winners
The Bryant Chamber awarded several individuals and businesses for their hard work and dedication. Check out all the winners below, and watch their videos to find out more about them.
Organization of the Year: https://vimeo.com/250220311
Young Professional of the Year: https://vimeo.com/250219932
Volunteer of the Year: https://vimeo.com/250219498
New Member of the Year: https://vimeo.com/250219044
Customer Service of the Year: https://vimeo.com/250218626
Business of the Year: https://vimeo.com/250217353
Lifetime achievement 1: https://vimeo.com/250276655
Lifetime achievement 2: https://vimeo.com/250217796