On Saturday, Sept. 24, over 745 Ouachita students went “Into the Streets” to serve the Arkadelphia community. Celebrating the 20th anniversary of Tiger Serve Day, 94 teams performed 110 different projects with one goal: to make a difference. The woman behind the event—Mrs. Judy Duvall.
Duvall serves as the assistant director of the Ben M. Elrod Center, which works to help Ouachita students practice their faith by serving those around them. As director, Duvall coordinates many projects like Elder Serve and Tiger Serve Day with the goal of not only helping the community as a whole, but also getting Ouachita students involved with volunteer work.
“It’s nice to be able to have practical ways to take what we learn and bring it out,” said Duvall. “That’s what our goal is for us to kind of be the hands and feet and just to have real practical ways to live out our faith.”
Duvall’s Ouachita story began when she attended as a freshman in the late 1970s. In three years, she managed to get her degree and fall in love with Scott Duvall, a 1980 graduate heading to seminary.
“I grew up in a methodist home,” Duvall said. “When I came down to Ouachita, my dad said, ‘Oh, you’re going to go down there and marry a Baptist preacher’. I said, ‘Dad, I am not going to marry a Baptist preacher’. But sure enough, Scott went to seminary.”
Scott Duvall was later hired by Ouachita and currently serves as professor of New Testament and J.C. and Mae Fuller chair of biblical studies. The couple was very excited about their return to their alma mater.
”I loved my time at Ouachita, and when Scott got the opportunity to come back and teach we were really excited because we felt like we received so much from people. So it was really neat to be able to give back.”
After returning to Arkadelphia, Judy began to work with senior adults. From running a Sunday school class for homebound senior adults to even teaching water aerobics, she knew where her heart was.
Eventually, Ian Cosh, vice president for community and international engagement, asked Duvall to help launch a program called ElderServe. The first thing they did was send out surveys to the community to figure out what the senior adults needed.
“I didn’t want to design a program that would meet needs that weren’t there.” But Duvall soon found out that local senior adults only needed one thing. “What we discovered is that most of the people that wanted to be involved with college students just needed companionship. So we set up the ElderServe program around that kind of thing, where students would go once a week to develop those relationships. It’s continued, we have about 40 students every semester.”
Duvall loves ElderServe because it correlates so well with Tiger Serve Day.. “It was wonderful moving into that role and getting to still work with senior adults. Every semester we will have about 110 projects for Tiger Serve Day that represent around 95 households, which are going to primarily be senior adults..”
In addition, many Tiger Serve Day projects help out nonprofits that heavily depend on volunteers. “A lot of these people don’t have the resources to pay for people to do it so we have 8 to 10 volunteers show up. You can imagine how much work they get done at no cost to them. It’s just a great benefit, and the week after we start getting phone calls and getting thank you notes. People just are so grateful. The students go out and they come back and talk about what an impact it had for them,” Duvall said.
“I think one of my favorite parts is when the volunteers come back with their tools and they get out of their cars and start to tell the stories about the morning. To see them after they’ve worked hard and given up their morning to have this great time with their group of friends.”
She also encourages volunteers to stay in contact with the people they serve. Students keeping a relationship with those they’ve helped can have a huge impact on both parties.
In addition to Tiger Serve Day and ElderServe, the Elrod Center offers students other ways to serve including: tutoring programs and projects through Habitat for Humanity and the Clark County Humane Society. Duvall also encourages students to be a part of its Thanksgiving event in November.
“Coming up around Thanksgiving we have about 55 families that we cook food for and deliver Thanksgiving baskets. It’s a big campus-wide event. We really focus on families that kind of get overlooked. We talk to counselors and find out families that are in need. Everybody needs to do that one time.”
For the full list of volunteer opportunities, visit www.obu.edu/elrod or contact Judy Duvall at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Barrett Pfeiffer