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Our Founder's Story


I am the youngest of 3 girls and I am known as the “peacemaker” in my family. I am drawn to situations that need peace, and I have always felt called to help others in need. I feel tremendous deep-rooted joy when I am helping others that are at their lowest. I was raised in a family that thankfully taught me the value of giving back at a very young age. I was also taught that we can never judge others, it is not our place to do so and nothing good can come from it.

When I see someone in need, I see the beginning of hope. I am immediately drawn to the opportunity to improve their situation and offer help. I am thankful for the wonderful relationships I have experienced, and experience daily, with our homeless population. I had no idea that my friendships, my desire to help others at their lowest, and my love for creating joy would lead me to want to build a village for the chronically homeless.

Let me take you back to 2019

I was sitting in my office in downtown North Little Rock and my team was preparing for 80 kids to enter our building for a field trip. I looked out the window and noticed a woman against the corner of our building and she looked upset and tired. I went out to speak with her and quickly realized she was homeless and was in need of food, clothing, and shelter. I took her to a nearby homeless shelter and returned back to work. As I drove back to work, I realized they were all around me, and the immediate help I was giving was not enough.

I started to do research to make sure I knew all of the care facilities and service providers in my community. I wanted to make sure I knew where to send or take someone, and how I could make a better impact on those in need. This research led me to study how Arkansas is caring for their homeless. I traveled to different communities such as New Beginnings in Fayetteville and Finding Hope in Malvern to get a better understanding. I also did a nationwide study and an international study.

Errin and Alan Graham

Errin Stanger with Alan Graham, Founder and CEO Mobile Loaves and Fishes

During my nationwide study, I found Community First! Village in Austin, Texas, thanks to a dear friend, Heather Nelson, who knew my passion for serving. I booked a 2-day trip to visit with Alan Graham and took many friends with me that are also passionate about helping the homeless. I remember this visit like it was yesterday. I did a lot of research about Mobile Loaves and Fishes, and how Alan created his ministry over the past 25 years. As soon as I stepped out of the car at Community First! The Village — I almost dropped my suitcase because I was in total joy shock. I did a slow 360 turn and almost started crying. I saw beautiful healthy happy people, a well-cared-for neighborhood, laughter and smiles, gorgeous tiny homes, a beautiful road with several pathways, and love. I checked into my tiny home, put everything down, and immediately left to start walking around. I walked around in awe as I saw how this incredible neighborhood was crafted. But the most important thing that struck me was the joy I saw and felt in the neighbors. They were laughing on their porches, happily waving to me and saying hello as we passed each other, working on tending the garden, and so much more.

The next two days were spent touring the village with Alan Graham and my joy meter exploded. I cannot put into words the level of nurturing, tenderness, thoughtfulness, and wisdom that exists at Community First. I had a chance to spend one on one time with Alan in his office. I told him that I think this is exactly what Arkansas needs and I asked him what I should do first. He guided me in preparing my heart and mind for this endeavor and shared some things to avoid. He also shared some of the most important advice I have ever received: how to invite others into the joy. I often replay that conversation in my mind and I look back and count my blessings from that day.

As I headed home from my first visit to Austin, I said to myself, “I think we need this in central Arkansas.” I often wonder if God heard that and thought, “It’s nice of you to finally realize the plan, Errin.” Ever since that first visit, this project has gone from a hope into a reality. It has not been on my timing, and that is perfectly OK. I am reminded daily to step out of the way and let God have it.

Our chronically homeless need a place to call home. They need love, care, support, and a community to call their own that is safe and nurturing. My goal is to create that neighborhood. I gave myself the best birthday present I could dream of when I turned 46. I started Refuge Village on my birthday. I have been blessed to spend over 20 years in non-profits and I know what it takes to make a dream a reality and sustain the dream. The non-profit status allows me to invite others into the joy of helping our chronically homeless.

Since 2021, I have had the privilege of meeting with many others that are smarter than me. The meetings and conversations have led to today, where I can confidently say that the village is well underway. The name of the non-profit is Refuge Village, but I am happy to say that the name of the neighborhood is Providence Park. Providence means “the protective care of God or of nature as a spiritual power.” I can’t think of anything sweeter. And, who doesn’t want to live in a park?!

We are more than just a village. We are a place of hope, grace, and empowerment. We are a place where individuals experiencing chronic homelessness can find support, resources, and a community to help them get back on their feet. We believe that every person deserves a chance to live with dignity and respect, regardless of their circumstances.

Our mission is to end chronic homelessness by providing a safe and supportive environment for those in need. We understand that homelessness is not just a lack of shelter, but a complex issue that requires a holistic approach. That’s why we offer a range of services to help individuals overcome the challenges they face.

We believe in the power of empowerment. We help our residents build the skills they need to become self-sufficient, including job training, financial management, and access to healthcare. We also provide a supportive community that fosters a sense of belonging and purpose. Through our programs, residents learn to rely on themselves and each other to create a brighter future.

Grace is at the heart of everything we do. We believe that everyone deserves a second chance, regardless of their past. We offer a non-judgmental, compassionate environment where individuals can heal, grow, and thrive.

This amazing village is more than a place to live. It’s a community of people working together to end chronic homelessness. With our innovative approach to empowerment and grace, we believe that we can make a real difference in the lives of those we serve. Join us on this journey to create a world where everyone has a home, and no one is left behind.