Hunt heir gifts $1 million to homeless housing program

by Paul Gatling ([email protected]) 2,282 views 

Fayetteville nonprofit New Beginnings announced Monday (May 3) a $1 million donation, the largest in the organization’s history.

The gift from Jane Hunt, daughter of Johnelle Hunt and the late J.B. Hunt, will help support the completion of a capital project to build a public housing shelter in south Fayetteville. Launched in 2018, New Beginnings is a bridge housing community designed for unsheltered people who have experienced long-term homelessness in Northwest Arkansas.

Construction crews broke ground on the project this past October. The complex will include 20 temporary shelters surrounding a shared building with a kitchen, shower house and laundry facility. Residents will share in the governance and maintenance of the community with the support of a team of volunteers and staff, including an onsite social worker.

According to a news release, the Hunt gift will also support sustained programming at New Beginnings.

“New Beginnings is overjoyed and grateful to Jane Hunt for embracing the vision of this project and her extreme generosity in supporting New Beginnings,” said Aaron Marshall, New Beginnings’ board president. “This gift allows us to complete construction and the initial capital campaign and shift our focus to ongoing, sustained programming support for the staff and services that will make the difference in our residents’ lives.

“Ms. Hunt has given us a considerable runway toward funding the program, and we invite others who want to make this kind of impact to join her in partnering with us in this difficult but necessary effort.”

The Hunt gift was organized through the nonprofit group Arkansas Community Foundation. Hunt is a founding member of the foundation’s Philanthropy Club in Northwest Arkansas.

“I have been exploring the complex issue of homelessness in our community for several years,” Hunt said in a statement. “When I learned about the plans for the New Beginnings Bridge Housing program, I felt that for the first time there was a real solution that could truly work. I am happy to lend my support to the New Beginnings team’s efforts.”

“At our March Philanthropy Club meeting, we heard a presentation from New Beginnings board member and University of Arkansas professor Dr. Kevin Fitzpatrick, and program director Solomon Burchfield that ultimately inspired Jane’s gift,” Jody Dilday, development director for Arkansas Community Foundation, said in a statement. “It is truly my pleasure to work with people like Jane to facilitate deeply rewarding philanthropic experiences.”