Stacy Harper: Activist wants to create community connections

Stacy Harper: Activist wants to create community connections
LARA JO HIGHTOWER
lhightower@nwadg.com


This is just one of the fascinating people you might want to keep your eye on in 2022.

The sign on Stacy Harper’s storefront office on Sunbridge Drive in Fayetteville says “The Connector” in big, bold lettering — and what an apt title that is. In her 10 years of community work, Harper — the founder of the nonprofit Lighthouse Solutions — has become proficient at meeting clients where they’re at and connecting them with the resources they need to better their lives.

“We’re bridging the gap between resources and the community,” says Harper. “This area is resource rich. But a lot of our people in Northwest Arkansas, Fayetteville, the state, they don’t know how to navigate the system to get to those resources. And so they get frustrated, and they tire out, mentally and emotionally. That’s where I come in. I can be that liaison. So I’m out here, and I’m listening to stories and listening to people’s needs, wants and desires, and I’m helping them navigate to the right resource.”

Harper doesn’t just link folks to existing nonprofits, though. She’s also out in the community providing services herself. A certified fitness instructor, she created a program called Accelerated Achievers, which links physical exercise to mental health.

“Accelerated Achievers is all about helping kids become young self-starters, inspiring motivators and academic achievers,” she explains. “I can take a kid from being shy to, at the end of the class, they’re laughing, they’re talking, they’re motivating.”

The Lighthouse Solutions’ mantra, according to the website, is “See a need, fill a need.” So when food activist Nate Walls came to her with a need he had been hearing in the communities he’d been feeding, she was ready to help.

“He was gaining that trust from individuals in these communities, and eventually, women started coming to him asking him, ‘Do you have access to period products?’” says Harper. “So we created a program called the Life Cycle Project. Karen McClard is my project director. She jumped in. And she really took control of this program and reached out to an organization called Period Alliance — they tackle period poverty. We found out that they did not have a chapter here in Northwest Arkansas.”

Harper and her team held a period drive and were able to give out 40 boxes of period products. Today, they are the first chapter of the Period Alliance in Northwest Arkansas.

Harper’s work is particularly impressive when taken into context of her own health: she’s been undergoing treatment for breast cancer since August 2020, but she refused to stop her work in the community — she’s fought off two bouts of covid-19 as a result.

“It was meaningful before, but I treasure every moment of it now,” she says. “When I’m listening to conversations from children, individuals, family members that are in need of some type of support, I do whatever I can to bridge that gap. We are on the street every day, and I think that’s what keeps me going, to not give up in my battle of ridding my body of cancer. Every day that I wake up, God is saying, ‘It’s your world — what are you going to do with it today?’”

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FYI

Lighthouse Solutions

To find out more about Stacy Harper’s work, or to volunteer or donate, visit Lighthouse Solutions on Facebook at facebook.com/Light-House-Solutions-258443104655791 or on the web at lhsolutions.org

Categories: In The News