Tag Archives: share happiness


Two more articles, as published in V.2.N.1., April 2016, Help YourSelf Community Resources Directory:



Pedestrian bridge spanning the Arkansas River between Little Rock and North Little Rock, Arkansas.

“Right now … if you leave prison, you get $100 and a bus ticket,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson laid out his plan for the state prison system Feb. 18, 2015.

“That is really not going to help reduce repeat offenders from going back in,” he said. “They need an opportunity. The reentry centers will help them find their way back into society.”

On Wednesday, April 13, several dozen civic and social advocacy groups and many members of the general public who are affected by these issues rallied on the front steps of the Capitol in a show of support for proposed reforms, such as the hiring of additional parole and probation officers, the creation of a transitional reentry center program and alternative (non-prison) sentences for nonviolent offenders.

Coordinated by the Central Arkansas ReEntry (CARE) Coalition, the rally featured several distinguished speakers representing various agencies and organizations which actively provide reentry support service.

“Because the impact of incarceration is so great on the individual, their families, and society as a whole, it takes an array of service providers, public policy experts, faith-based groups, community organizations and support services to assist with transition to return to society and avoid the situations that lead to recidivism,” Robert Kim Combs, Chair of CARE’s Policy & Law Committee, explained the complexity of the problem.

“No one entity can do it all and do it effectively,” he said. “This rally brought together a number of the people and organizations that are helping and to tell the story of the 56% of people who successfully return to free society without re-offending. And it is important to acknowledge that many of these groups are working without government support.”
In appreciation of these collaborative efforts, an official Proclamation of the Governor, declaring April 13, 2016, as ARKANSAS COMMUNITY REENTRY DAY, was read and, concluding the presentation, attendees toured the Capitol to meet legislators and learn about the General Assembly.

For more information, visit www.ArkansasReentry.com or call (501) 444-CARE.



“Fiesta” — statue at The Rivermarket in Little Rock, Arkansas. Photo by Regina Strehl

A man was visited by the Archangel Gabriel and invited to tour both heaven and hell so he could report back to his brethren and give a firsthand account of what the afterlife was like.

In hell he found a beautiful earth-like land, replete with towering mountains, deep-green forests, babbling brooks and sunny blue skies.

Rows and rows of tables, stretching as far as the eye could see and piled high with the most delicious food imaginable, stretched across the gorgeous countryside, yet masses of emaciated people roamed among the tables, moaning and weeping.

Every person had a huge fork strapped to each arm, above and below the elbow, which made it impossible to bend their arms to get any of the food into their mouths.
Try as they might to feed themselves, everyone was starving.

“What a horrible fate to endure,” said the man.

“Yes,” said the Archangel Gabriel. “Perpetual starvation in the midst of abundance. That is why we call it hell.”

Then POOF!!! The man was whisked-away to heaven where the view was nearly identical: rows and rows of delicious food spread upon tables across the bucolic land.

There, too, huge forks were double-strapped to the people’s arms which stopped them from feeding themselves, yet all were healthy and happy. “Because in heaven,” said Gabriel, “we all feed each other.” ~author unknown

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Arkansas Prisons


What can we do about it?

Crime rates are falling all across America. Even in Arkansas violent crime has dropped by 4% and property crime was down 17% between 2004 and 2014. However, since 2014 Arkansas prison population has increased by 22%, to more than 18,000 inmates and Arkansans on probation or parole, the highest rate of rise in the nation. Around the country states are closing prisons due to the drop in crime while in Arkansas we continues to pack our prisons and county jails at a cost of 512 Million dollars last year, expected to rise to more than $1.2billion within 10-years.

We are a small state with a population of around 3-million and a tight budget that we have continued to balance at a staggering cost. Imagine if we could use our state budget to treat mental illness and substance abuse rather than incarcerate ill and addicted inmates.

Rather than remaining the brunt of the stigma and shame that comes from perusing policies that have obviously failed us, we could be an example of another state that has turned our problem around.

In 2011, lawmakers recognized a problem with simply building more jails and took action, passing Act-570. The law was designed to reduce prison populations by reducing sentences, expanding probation and parole and encouraging reentry programs. So, what happened?

In 2013, a parolee was arrested for murder just days after his release. The Board of Corrections implemented new, stricter guidelines to keep inmates incarcerated longer and Act 570 collapsed.

By reinvigorating Act-570 and making it retroactive we could alleviate prison overcrowding with the stroke of a pen. By expanding alternative sentencing and instituting pre-judicial restorative justice programs we could help heal communities and begin treating many non-violent crimes as the community mental health issues that they are and not as criminal justice problems.

By interdicting petty criminals, addicts and the mentally ill we can begin to offer help, not punishment. We can see our family and neighbors restored through compassion and treatment rather than burdening them with a criminal record that will haunt them for life.

We can end the new “Jim Crow” of felony conviction status. We can smash the prison industrial complex. We can make mass incarceration a thing of the past, a bad memory, a shameful part of our history that we proudly overcome. Arkansas needs prisons. We need safe, well-funded and well-administered prisons. However we don’t need to fill these exceptional prisons with non-violent substance abusers and our mentally ill friends and family. Our prisons should be reserved for our friends and family who pose a danger to all of us, not for those we are mad at.

I see Arkansas as a unique state that traditionally was a beacon of freedom on the frontier. Wedged between the Deep South and Indian Territory, Arkansas was a state where all people were welcome to start anew, unfettered by past mistakes, and build a healthy life. Somewhere around the beginning of the last century things began to change and Arkansas fell into a sad maturity. We began to accept prejudice and fear as a natural state of things. That is not our true heritage.

Let us return to being on the frontier of change, acceptance and envision a new life for all Arkansans.

Robert Kim Combs
Publisher & General Manager
Help YourSelf Community Resources Directory

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Dancing with life after death.

Wednesday last, I died.

At least that’s what I’m told, having no recollection of the event which, as per various news clips, occurred at the Arkansas State Capitol on the afternoon of January 28, during a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting

“A woman had a heart attack,” 5NEWS reported. “Arkansas Sen. Jon Woods, R-Springdale, performed CPR.”

“The woman (who would be me) was slumped back in her chair, taking small gasps of air,” Woods told reporters.

Accounts continue that when my face went pale, I was laid down on the floor so that Senator Woods could administer CPR until a medical crew arrived a few minutes later to stabilize me. Also, that Dr. Jim Bledsoe (spouse of state Sen. Cecile Bledsoe, R-Rogers) and Rep. Greg Leding, D-Fayetteville, assisted in the life-saving intervention, which at one point involved the use of a defibrillator.

And there were obviously many others onsite at the Capitol, along the way of Emergency Medical Transport, and at UAMS where I was admitted who had a hand in my survival. Yet the truth is, I remember nearly nothing about any of it except that I am forever appreciative of all quick and sincere efforts given by so many people to saving my life.

For the record, as I regained conscious awareness of my surroundings and what had taken place, I was informed of treatment options and consulted with my adult-children about what course of action to take. Thus on Thursday afternoon, about 24-hours after my admission to UAMS, I was released to travel home to Van Buren County and begin my recovery.

Now, being one full week into my rehabilitation, I am thrilled to say that things are going great. I slept really well the last couple of nights and breakfast this morning –- which I prepared for myself – tasted totally great.

A few big things have changed, however. Most notably the February publication of Help YourSelf: Community Resources Directory, which I edit and layout, is temporarily on hold. And I don’t plan to be doing any Can-Can dancing for a while!

What I do plan is to continue reclaiming good health and expressing my appreciation for all those aforementioned who helped rescue me, especially including my five fabulous adult-children, three of whom reside out of state, flew home immediately to be at my side and have been pampering me ever since.

Also I am compelled to especially acknowledge my dear friend, professional colleague and business partner, Robert Kim Combs, who was at my side from the moment I succumbed at the capitol straight through my release from the hospital and beyond, making multiple trips from the Little Rock airport to my home near Clinton, chauffeuring my incoming kids.

Thanks & (((hugs)))… ~Christine

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Come say hello to Help YourSelf on Facebook…!!! And if you catch yourself feeling sorry for yourself… well… choose to be thankful and believe in the magic of true love

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Van Buren County CRD

Thanks to the caring heart and great research work of friend and good neighbor Sue Pico, we are pleased to publish as PDF the Community Resources Directory for Van Buren County which can now be found alongside many other useful directories and programs in our Web Directory…!!!

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Happy Dance

Matt Harding is my HERO. He travels the world with his silly dance and all he does is share happiness. Matt, come to Arkansas!

Also new this month, take a look at our CALENDAR page and our LAW DAY pictorial (in our RESTORATIVE JUSTICE section) and notice on our ADVERTISING page that we now accept credit card payments online with SQUARE…!!!



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