De Queen couple named U.S. Host Family of the Year
Jimmy and Virginia Arnold receive award
after nomination by foreign exchange student

Virginia and Jimmy Arnold were named the U.S. Host Family of the Year by the Forte International Exchange Program. They were nominated by Jans-Enno Martens, a German foreign exchange student the Arnolds hosted over the 2014-15 school year.


By Patrick Massey


A De Queen couple has been named the 2015 U.S. Host Family of the Year by the Forte International Exchange Association.
Jimmy and Virginia Arnold received the award in the spring after their nomination by an exchange student they hosted during the 2014-15 school year. The award came as a surprise to the couple, who are only now on their third year of hosting international students.

"At first we thought this award was out of Arkansas host families, but then we realized it was out of the entire country," said Virginia, who is best known as Mrs. Jen and owner of the Happy House Daycare Center in De Queen. "That was just really neat."

The Arnolds were nominated by a German student, Jan-Enno Martens, they hosted over the previous school year. He wrote a letter to the Forte International Exchange Association detailing his experience with the Arnolds and why they should receive the award. Soon after, the Arnolds were informed they had won.

The couple has hosted four exchange students over the previous two years. Their first two students, both girls, lived in Hong Kong and Korea and attended Wickes High School during their year here. Martens stayed with the Arnolds alongside a Denmark student and both attended De Queen High School.

The idea to begin hosting exchange students started after the Arnolds moved to their new home and daycare, having lost their former, well-known home and business on the corner of Fifth Street and Wallace to a devastating fire. Virginia's sister and niece, who both hosted exchange students, recommended the experience.

To read the complete article, please see the July 23 edition of The De Queen Bee.




Immigrant rights advocacy group seeks to open full-time office in De Queen, among other cities
Advocating for immigrants - Victor Rojas, Jr., left, and Omar Gallardo speak to the De Queen City Council on July 21 about a plan by the Arkansas United Community Coalition to open an immigrants rights advocacy office in De Queen.


By Patrick Massey

An Arkansas-based non-profit organization seeking to empower the state's immigrant population is hoping to open a full-time office in De Queen and several other locations in the state.

Representatives of the Arkansas United Community Coalition (AUCC) recently spoke to the Sevier County Quorum Court to announce their intention to open the local office. The representatives, Victor Rojas, Jr. and Omar Gallardo - both residents of Sevier County - said De Queen's diverse makeup would make it an ideal location for an AUCC office.

"There are many people in our community who want to contribute more, who want to build bridges between the different parts of our community," said Rojas.

The AUCC was founded in 2010 to provide immigrants in Arkansas with resources to become greater participants in the state's economic, political and social processes.

The group recognizes that Arkansas is home to a large and diverse community of immigrants, boasting the countryís fastest-growing Latino and fourth fastest-growing immigrant population between 2000 and 2005. The lack of involvement by immigrants, the group says, is a reality that negatively impacts all Arkansans.

"A community is stronger when it is one community with one vision," said Rojas. He said the AUCC encourages immigrants to become more active players in their community.

"Many people in our immigrant population feel like they don't have a part to play," he explained. "We've seen a lot of movement in this country to empower immigrants, to help them be part of the process, and that's what we want to do here."

To read the complete article, please see the July 23 edition of The De Queen Bee.



2012 Graduation

2012 Graduation

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