National Service Program Works on Recruiting NWA Young Professionals

National Service Program Works on Recruiting NWA Young Professionals

By Abbi Ross

The Razorback Reporter

Members of a new to the region service program affiliated with the Salvation Army are in the throes of the recruitment process.

Echelon is designed to bring new service and social opportunities to young professionals, organizers said. The goal is to prepare the next generation of Salvation Army supporters by providing young adults with the opportunity to engage with the organization through several outlets for service and networking, according to the organization website.

Twenty-four Echelon chapters are at work in 20 states, with 19 more chapters in development stages, according to the website. Chapters work toward the goal of providing young adults with service and social opportunities.

There is not anything like Echelon in the area, said Blair Cook, public relations and volunteer coordinator for the Northwest Arkansas Salvation Army.

“There is a large market of young professionals that are post-grad and still feel the need to be connected with social groups and service,” Cook said.

Northwest Arkansas is a developing area with a lot of young professionals, with area companies such as J.B. Hunt, Walmart and Tyson, Cook said.

Using social media, internal networking and word of mouth advertising have been the primary forms of recruitment for the chapter so far, Cook said.

Members of Echelon NWA presented their first event, a social hour, Oct. 24 at Bike Rack Brewing Co. in Springdale. Another social hour took place Nov. 7 at Moonbroch in Bentonville. 

The second recruitment event went well and board members saw more new faces from the last event, Cook said.

Echelon has an opportunity: 14,807 UA graduates 35 and under in live in NWA, according to the Arkansas Alumni Association. 

Katie Howe, a 2012 UA graduate, joined the Dallas Echelon chapter after moving to the city post-graduation. Howe will serve as a board member for the NWA Echelon Chapter.

Howe had seen social media posts about Echelon after she moved and knew about UofA connections involved, she said.

Howe wanted to be involved in something tangible,  so she reached out to the Salvation Army.

“You get to see your work, working,” Howe said about her involvement with Echelon.

After returning to NWA and realizing that type of involvement was lacking in the area, she reached out to the Salvation Army about a new chapter, Howe said.

Howe met with the National Echelon Advisory Board in Milwaukee and came back with more knowledge and ways to move the chapter forward, she said.

The chapter, which is still in the recruiting phase, plans on presenting four large service events and two major social events each year, Howe said.

The NWA Echelon chapter will be participating in a kettle takeover with all chapters, Dec. 14, when they will ring bells for the Salvation Army and whichever chapter raises the most wins, Howe said.

The Red Kettle Takeover is an effort to join Echelon chapters across the U.S. with the Salvation Army’s kettle initiative during the holiday season, according to the Echelon Kettle Takeover guide.

Service events will align with needs throughout the year, Howe said.

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Abbi Ross is a junior at the University of Arkansas where she is studying journalism with a news and editorial concentration. She is a reporter for the Arkansas Traveler and the Lemke Digital Media Lab,where she covers homelessness. Her past experience includes working with her hometown newspaper and working for the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture in the communications department.

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