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Hope Found of NEA’s
Inaugural Date Night
with a Purpose

By Cody Moore

Later this month, Hope Found of Northeast Arkansas, a local nonprofit organization dedicated to ending human trafficking by creating awareness and educating communities, will host its inaugural benefit event, Date Night with a Purpose.

Hope Found of Northeast Arkansas was founded in 2018 but didn’t officially become a nonprofit organization until 2019. Founders of the organization include Northeast Arkansas residents Miranda Ballard, Audra King, Mary Sellers and Megan Brown.

Brown, who was born and raised in Jonesboro, explains Hope Found of NEA’s overall mission within Northeast Arkansas communities.

“Our mission is to end human trafficking by creating awareness, educating communities and coordinating services for victims and survivors,” said Brown. “We recognized that our area was naïve to human trafficking happening not only in our state, but in Northeast Arkansas.

“We knew there needed to be an increased awareness of the issue, not only for adults, but also our kids. We understood how traffickers and these online predators groomed and manipulated vulnerable populations, and so we wanted to be able to educate our community on this issue so they can be able to identify and report it, as well as be able to recognize if this was happening to them or their children.”

Since its inception, Hope Found of NEA has hosted an array of informative events that have allowed residents of Northeast Arkansas the opportunity to learn more about human trafficking and its signs. Hope Found has also given back to the community through Bags of Hope, a mission that allows community members to donate essential items that are then given to law enforcements agencies who give the products to trafficking victims upon rescue.

“We have had a great response to our organization,” said Brown. “Many have prayed and supported us by partnering with us, giving financially, requesting our human trafficking 101 presentations and supporting our projects like Bags of Hope and other fundraisers that we have had.”

This month, Hope Found of NEA will host its inaugural Date Night with a Purpose event, a concept that the nonprofit organization hopes to continue for years to come.

“Last year, while visiting one of our partners in Nashville, we learned about this type of fundraiser,” said Brown. “We thought it would be a fun and unique event that Northeast Arkansas has not experienced before. … Once the pandemic hit and cancelled our other fundraiser back in June, we thought this would be a great opportunity to do this fundraiser.”

Date Night with a Purpose will allow members of the community to purchase tickets that will get them a perfectly-crafted date night meal delivered straight to their doors, all while supporting Hope Found of NEA.

“Our $75 ticket includes dinner and dessert for two provided by the 501 Steakhouse and Southern Confections,” said Brown. “Your dinner will be delivered to your door in an insulated delivery bag so that it stays warm and fresh.”

The dinner menu prepared by 501 Steakhouse includes the option of the Blackened Chicken Pasta, gourmet chicken with the customers’ choice of two sides, including the twice baked potato, wild rice or sautéed green beans; Parmesan Salmon with a choice of two sides including baked potato, wild rice or sautéed green beans; or the Vegetarian Pasta Primavera.

Southern Confections will be providing a choice of chocolate cake with a dipped strawberry or vanilla cake with a dipped strawberry.

“We are very thankful for the 501 Steakhouse and Southern Confections’ partnership with us for our event and for working with us on all the details,” said Brown. “Also, fun fact, one of our co-founders, Audra King, is the owner of Southern Confections.”

Other ticket options include the $100 V.I.P. package, which includes the 501 Steakhouse dinner and Southern Confections dessert for two, as well as a long-stemmed rose and a silver bracelet made by a human trafficking survivor. All $75 and $100 dinner tickets must be purchased by Oct. 17.

There are also three sponsorship packages to choose from: “Meet the Parents,” a $1,000 sponsorship that includes a Hope Found of NEA newsletter feature, a dinner for six, a company logo or name printed on a keepsake cooler delivery bag and social media recognition; “First Date,” a $500 sponsorship that includes dinner for four, a company logo or name printed on a keepsake delivery bag and social media recognition; and “Just Friends,” a $250 sponsorship that includes dinner for two and a company name or logo printed on a keepsake cooler delivery bag and social media recognition. All sponsorship levels are to be purchased by Oct. 5.

Hope Found of NEA members and founders will distribute all meals on Oct. 22 between 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. to those located in Jonesboro and to those within a 25-mile radius of the city.

“This event will help us to further our mission of spreading awareness and educating our NEA community on human trafficking, along with coordinating services for victims and survivors,” said Brown. “We hope that we can raise more awareness about human trafficking and increase our partners and supporters throughout NEA.”

To purchase dinner tickets or sponsorships for the Oct. 22 event, or for more information on Hope Found of Northeast Arkansas and direct donation links, visit hopefoundofnea.org or contact Megan Brown at hopefoundarkansas@gmail.com. For updates and announcements on all upcoming events, find Hope Found of Northeast Arkansas on Facebook.