G.I. Rights Hotline Conferees Wowed by Welcome

Dear Editor,

The Mount Sequoyah Retreat hosted an unusual group of guests when the G.I. Rights Hotline, a national organization of volunteers, held its annual conference there from May 31 through June 3.

The GIRH provides a unique and important service to current and veteran members of the U.S. military, their family members and friends. Hotline counselors are often the only compassionate human connection for troubled service members in times of need, and their annual training is vital and challenging.

The OMNI Center for Peace, Justice and Ecology recruited volunteers, home-cooked entrees, gift cards and in-kind donations from area residents, farms, grocers and restaurants to give the 38 GIRH counselors who attended this conference an outstanding Ozark welcome and top-notch hospitality throughout their visit. An astonishing number of local volunteers and businesses donated time and resources to the four-day event to minimize costs for the attendees, who traveled to Fayetteville at their own expense.

Nine volunteer drivers transported the visitors to and from the airport and the Saturday Farmers Market. Eighteen local businesses donated goods and services to the event and more than 20 volunteer cooks and kitchen helpers served nine meals during the four-day conference for which the majority of ingredients were locally and sustainably produced. Every bite of food served at the conference was donated to the event. Four musicians and a storyteller provided an evening of entertainment that made a powerful connection with the audience. The accommodations at Mount Sequoyah were clean, comfortable, welcoming and affordable, and the staff were attentive and helpful. We highly recommend this facility to anyone planning an event requiring meeting space and/or lodging.

All the conference attendees commented repeatedly about the outpouring of warmth and hospitality from the local Fayetteville community. They were truly moved by your support.

We would like to recognize by name the many local volunteers and businesses whose kind generosity made this conference such an uplifting and optimistic experience for all who attended. We couldn’t have done it without all of these fine people and businesses: David Lewis, Brick House Kitchen; Ozark Natural Foods; Ozark Alternatives Farm; Marty’s Produce; Dripping Springs Garden; Kalee Yang Farm; Arsaga’s; Einstein Brothers Bagels; Greenhouse Grill; Jammin’ Java; Jose’s; Penguin Ed’s; Rick’s Bakery; Slim Chickens; U.S. Pizza; Walmart; Kelly Mulhollan & Donna Stjerna of Still on the Hill; Jacob and Jordan George of Operation Awareness; Steve Holst; Joyce Hale; Alice Beetz; Maya Porter; Rena Guay; Tracy Duncan; Marshall Carter; Andi-K Heart; Dick Bennett; Dodi Nichols; Marietta Camillieri; Karen Idlet; Charlie Stockton; Larry & Marti Kerrigan-Winters; Herb Culver and Bean Mountain Farms; Herbal Simplicity; Jennifer Michael; Jackie Golden; Richard Tiffany; Ginny Massulo; Peggy Allen; Annee Littell; Karen Takemoto; Denise Lanuti; Barbara McClelland; Lu Ann Goldfarb; Nan Yarnelle; Jody Miskell; Ann Mesrobian.

Thank you all.

Gladys Tiffany, OMNI Center for Peace, Justice & Ecology
Alison Carter, conference coordinator
Karyn Zaremba, food coordinator

Categories: Commentary