First Service Red, White, and Brave campaign finds swift success

After just eight months of community fundraising, First Service Bank announced they had raised the required $80,000 needed to build their very first Habitat for Humanity home, the focus of their Operation Red, White, and Brave campaign.

“When Habitat learned we had reached our goal so quickly, they were sort of in shock,” said Tom Grumbles, president and CEO of First Service Bank  bank. “We had some amazing support from our bank customers and the local community. We couldn’t be prouder of what they helped us accomplish in record time.”

A homeowner has been named following a rigorous application process. His name is Darryl Jerome Walker.

Representatives from Habitat for Humanity (HFH) of Central Arkansas and First Service Bank (FSB) celebrated the groundbreaking with the new homeowner. They include (from left): Brad Robertson, VP of Development for HFH; Kelly Sims, Chief Operating Officer for HFH; FSBs Chief Financial Officer Kenneth Barnard; new homeowner Daryl Walker; FSBs Chief Operation Officer Robin Hackett; HFHs Homeowner Services Director Jeff Roper; FSBs Marketing Director John Patrom; and, HFHs Construction Director John Hames.

Daryl had changes that impacted his life path back in 2017. A victim of a traumatic assault while he was serving in the army, Walker’s PTSD became so serious that the decorated soldier was discharged early. Overwhelmed, Walker was fortunate to learn from a military buddy about a PTSD treatment program for vets in Arkansas. With nothing to lose and everything to gain, Walker headed east to Little Rock’s Eugene J. Towbin Healthcare Center.

“My original plan was to get my mind right and then go back to California,” Walker recalled. “In the midst of getting my mind right, I decided that wouldn’t be good for my mental health to go back.” The decision created a new problem for Walker when he left the program. He was now homeless in a strange city. Fate stepped in and led him to St. Francis House, a social outreach program of the state’s Episcopal Church. The House works to restore lives and providing temporary living quarters, a community food pantry, and help with securing household necessities for the community of homeless individuals and families. Soon, Walker began working five nights a week at Saint Francis church.

A couple of months ago, he was awakened from his daytime sleep

by St. Francis House’s Carol Chastine. “When I see it’s from St. Francis, I always answer,” said Walker. “Carol told me she knew some people at First Service Bank wanted to do something good by helping a veteran.”

Walker was understandably shocked.

“Things like this don’t happen to me,” he said. “I have to fight and work for everything in my life. I wasn’t comprehending the full scope of what she was saying. When I got to work that night, there was a large packet on my desk, and I realized it was from Habitat. This wasn’t a dream.”

When construction begins, the crew will include bank staff, bank customers, professional builder volunteers, as well as Walker. As part of his new homeowner agreement, he will put in 300 hours of sweat equity toward the build and is required to take a course in the basics of homeownership, including how to manage mortgage payments, budgeting, and other homeowner responsibilities.

The official groundbreaking ceremony for the home took place on August 16 at 4300 11th Street in Little Rock. Participating in the ceremony were First Service Bank CFO Kenneth Barnard, COO Robin Hackett, Marketing Director Jon Patrom, as well as the home’s new owner.

“We were thrilled to learn about Darryl,” said Hackett. “He’s a hard-working, dedicated young man who gave his all to the Army, and has been dealt a difficult hand since then. We know he will make a very responsible homeowner.”