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Giving leaves a lasting impression.
/ July 5, 2016
 Richard & Thelma Lambert 
Thelma Lambert had been a resident of Carroll County for a little more than ten years when she passed away in early April, but she and her husband Richard ensured their legacy will never be forgotten thanks to the generous provision of their charitable endowment. The story of the Lamberts speaks to the power of giving - something that they experienced personally as Hurricane Katrina refugees.

It was August 2005 and the massive hurricane was churning in the Gulf. Richard and Thelma watched as neighbors and friends packed up their belongings and headed north in fear Katrina would hit the Mississippi coastline they called home. The Lamberts hesitated. They were happily living in a house they built themselves in Ansley, Mississippi and life was good. Richard, especially, did not want to leave, hoping the hurricane would turn or lessen in intensity. Thelma knew it was finally time to go.

“I started packing but he refused. I asked him to go watch the news for a bit longer and then decide,” Thelma said in an interview in 2014. “It didn’t take long before he very quietly started loading up the truck, working around the outside of the house securing latches and so forth,” she added.

On that Saturday they drove to Meridian and Jackson, finding no vacancies along the way. With lodging scarce in every direction, they decided to drive all the way to Eureka Springs, Arkansas where they often spent vacations. There, they knew, they would find lodging and safety.

When they arrived, Richard went to the police station in Eureka Springs to let them know they were safe. “Everybody had gone in so many directions; no one knew where anyone was,” Thelma said.

The Lambert's house after Hurricane Katrina hit Ansley, MS.


But there was no escaping the awful news – their house had been destroyed – water was above their roof. “We lost it all,” said Thelma.

What happened after that seemed like a series of small miracles. “Everybody we met was willing to help us,” Thelma recalled.

A female police officer had been listening to Richard’s story and told him about an unfurnished apartment she thought they might like. Not too long after that, she offered to take the Lamberts over to see it. “We walked in expecting to see an empty room, and instead it was totally furnished with furniture and food, clothes in the closet and even toothbrushes and toothpaste! All we had to do was walk in.”

When Carroll County locals heard their story, they helped with grocery bills, cash and provided household items to sustain them. “People were so good to us,” she added.

When the insurance on their home and property loss was finally settled, the Lamberts discussed rebuilding in Mississippi but decided to settle in Berryville, Arkansas instead, just a few miles east of Eureka Spring. By then, they had come to love Carroll County.

After Richard’s passing in 2013, and touched by the continuing generosity of the community, Thelma decided it was time to return the favor. With the help of her professional advisor and the executive director of the local Arkansas Community Foundation affiliate, she created the Richard and Thelma Lambert Charitable Endowment with the proceeds from their life insurance policy.

Beginning this Fall, the first grants from the Richard and Thelma Lambert Charitable Endowment will begin supporting both the Meals on Wheels program (through the Carroll County Senior Activity Center), and the Loaves and Fishes Food Bank in Carroll County. Every year after, these programs will remember the generosity of the Lamberts as their endowment gives back to those who had helped them in their time of need.

To learn more about how the Community Foundation works with individuals who love to give back to their community, click the link below. 

Real People Making A Difference

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