City of Fort Smith Spotlight of the Month is..

Fort Smith Children's Emergency Shelter

The Fort Smith Children’s Emergency Shelter is a wonderful organization! They are celebrating the past 20 years of providing “Shelter from the Storm” for children in crisis. The CES was founded by the Junior League of Fort Smith and opened its doors in October 1997.

The CES serves area children age 6 to 17 who have been removed from their home by the Department of Human Services due to neglect and/or abuse. It provides shelter and care, in a safe and structured home-like environment and allows kids in crisis the opportunity to “just be kids.”

In the past 20 years, the CES has served more than 3,752 children and cared for their emergency needs. The CES serves approximately 300 children a year and have recently implemented its “Shoes that Fit” program. This program gives each child the opportunity to pick out and purchase a brand new pair of shoes when they come to the CES. The “Shoes that Fit” program allows funding for shoes that fit their feet, fit their personalities and allow them to fit in at school. This program not only serves a need but helps the child feel cared about.

Last October, the CES expanded its mission to rally around the young adults “aging out” of the foster care system and created an independent living program, GetREAL24. The restorative, empowering, alternative living, equips foster care youth, 18 and older, to live independently in the shelter’s 24-unit apartment complex and gain the life skills necessary to become contributing members of society. The young adults get to define what success looks like for them and learn how to apply for jobs, budget, cook, communicate with landlords and even sew. Learning these skills helps these young adults to have a more successful future.

kidsIn the past year, the CES was awarded the Arkansas Nonprofit of the Year by the Arkansas Business Magazine, Best of the Best Local Nonprofit by the Southwest Times and received a $50,000 grant from Tyson Foods for its “Happy Plate” food program. This program will allow the CES to serve more than 40,000 meals to “our” children in Crisis.
If you like to have fun and would like to make a difference for children in crisis you can host a fundraiser for the Children’s Emergency Shelter. Here are some ideas for fundraisers: collect spare change, bake sales, jean day at work, bowling tournament, breakfast with Santa, cooking party, pool party, cook-off/Chili cook off, fashion show, craft show, run/walk, concession stand, garage sale, scavenger hunt, sports/golf tournaments, just to name a few. If you are interested in hosting a fundraiser for this fabulous organization please contact Ashley Ahlert at (479) 242-5771 or email

You can help make a difference – I did!  - Wendy Mathis