When Cliff Sharp retired from his position as teacher and coach at the University 20 years ago, he and his wife, Jane, moved to Murfreesboro, Tenn. There, the Sharps became engaged in a new ministry as Cliff directed a crisis pregnancy center. Through this work, the couple began to see an even greater need in the community.
"We noticed that single moms and the working poor were being missed," says Cliff. "Jane and I wanted to lift their hopes and serve their physical needs, but also their spiritual and emotional needs."
Thus began Greenhouse Ministries, a faith-based, volunteer organization dedicated to providing encouragement and motivation to members of the community who need to make changes in their lives; promoting wholeness; and giving back to others in the community. The Sharps serve as executive directors.
Many families come to Greenhouse for necessities such as food, gas vouchers and furniture. There is no qualifying, and all services are free. However, clients don't just get a handout. To receive furniture or a computer, an individual must first engage in some form of community service — from mowing laws to picking up trash or even volunteering at the ministry. It is not uncommon to meet a volunteer who was once a client.
But Greenhouse, now in its 10th year, provides more than material items; more than 60 volunteers offer resources to help citizens improve their lives. Services available include computer classes, GED tutoring, counseling, budgeting classes, literacy tutoring, relationship classes, job and housing referrals, home repairs, and many forms of advocacy. Last year alone, more than 11,000 individuals received help.
Above all, every person who comes through the door is given the opportunity to pray with the staff and volunteers.
"The people who we see … most of them do not have a church home. I do weddings and funerals all because people have nobody else," says Cliff. "While we do whatever we can do to help [materially], we want to make sure there is a spiritual component.
"We have had more fun in this ministry," he adds. "When you feel like you are where God wants you to be, you have a lot of joy. We want to give everyone a touch of Jesus who comes here." — Jennifer L. Marcussen
2008 honorees a cut above
During Homecoming 2008's Black & Gold Banquet, Alumni Relations will honor a select group of individuals who are making an impact in their communities and around the world. The alumni selected were chosen for their degree of excellence and recognition in their fields; lives consistent with University ideals; active support of the University; and service to their community, church and God.
Shelter Island, N.Y., residents Cliff ('67) and Tish Larkins ('71) Clark are partners in the truest sense of the word. They own and run the South Ferry Co., which offers year-round service from Shelter Island to North Haven, N.Y. Together their community service has made a huge impact in the town of 2,500. Cliff is a former elite runner and coach who was a three-time All-American and national NAIA champion in track and field. He finished one spot away from qualifying for the 1972 Olympics in the steeplechase. For more than three decades, he has helped improve multiple high school running programs and mentored many high school and collegiate All-Americans. He serves on the board of Timothy Hill Children's Ranch, was selected the 2002 Citizen of the Year by the Shelter Island Lions Club, and is co-founder of the Shelter Island 10K Run. Tish devotes much of her time to running the ferry business and working with many local organizations, including Girl Scouts. The Clarks, who have two grown daughters, are members of East Hampton Church of Christ, where Cliff serves as an elder.
Outstanding Young Alumni
Craig ('90) and Caryllee Parker ('91) Cheatham of Colorado Springs, Colo., are both known for excellence in their respective fields. Craig is currently president and CEO of The Realty Alliance, one of the largest real estate firms in North America, which serves more than 100,000 real estate practitioners. He has been named one of the "Top 100 Most Influential" individuals multiple times by industry press and has been a featured speaker on five continents. Caryllee is a former public relations specialist and communications manager for the Alabama Housing Finance Authority. Her communications projects have garnered multiple awards, including the National Council of State Housing Agencies' Communications Award (1994, 1995 and 2000) and the Public Relations Council of Alabama's Medallion Award (1992). Both Cheathams were recognized as "Top 40 Under 40" business leaders by the Montgomery Advertiser, Craig in 2002 and Caryllee in 2004. They are members of Eastside Church of Christ and have a son and daughter.
College of Arts and Humanities
Ginger Blackstone ('91) is a supervising producer for CNN in Atlanta. Her responsibilities include overseeing network programming, instructing executive and line producers, approving newscast rundowns, evaluating staff, monitoring potential for breaking news, approving correspondent scripts, and flagging sensitive or potentially litigious situations and information. She received a 2005 Peabody Award for CNN coverage of Hurricane Katrina and aftermath and a 2005 Columbia DuPont Award for CNN coverage of the South Asia Tsunami Disaster. She is a member of North Atlanta Church of Christ.
College of Bible and Religion
Landon Saunders ('68) of Norwich, Vt., is founder and president of Heartbeat, a nonprofit organization "dedicated to helping people fulfill the promise of human life by discovering the possibility that, despite circumstances, tragedy and suffering, they can have a life that loves to happen." He considers the primary focus of his work to be the relationship between culture and religion.
He is a frequent speaker who has brought fresh insight for dealing with life's difficulties to millions via radio and has hosted "Feeling Good About Yourself" and "Life That Loves to Happen" seminars in more than 100 cities throughout North America. He worships with Norwich Church of Christ.
College of Business Administration
Little Rock, Ark., resident Steve Clary ('74) is owner and CEO of Clary Development Corp., where he is involved in the ownership, development, leasing, management and syndication of real estate having an aggregate value in excess of $600 million. He is also a founding partner in Clary Holdings, LLLP, and a founding member of Evest Group, LLC, both of which have venture capital investments in a number of different companies. He is a member of the Board of Trustees, University Builders Circle and President's Council. He and his wife, Cindy Cannon ('74), have been members of Pleasant Valley Church of Christ since 1979. The Clarys have two grown daughters, both University graduates, and two grandchildren.
College of Education
Mike Lucas ('71) serves as program adviser of Educator Preparation for the Arkansas Department of Education, where one of his chief responsibilities includes reviewing and evaluating professional education programs in all state and independent colleges and universities throughout Arkansas. From 1993 to 2007, he directed Educator Preparation and Assessment for the Missouri Department of Education. He is a member of the Association of Teacher Educators, Phi Delta Kappa, and the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification and serves on the board of examiners for the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. Married to Lynn Greenway ('70), they have two children and three grandchildren and are members of WindSong Church of Christ.
College of Nursing
Assistant Professor Susan Drinnen ('84) Kehl is a nurse educator at the Patty Hanks Shelton School of Nursing in Abilene, Texas. She coordinates clinical courses and teaches adult health nursing for the consortium of Abilene Christian, Hardin-Simmons and McMurry universities. An advocate of health care missions, she has led campaigns to Guatemala, Hungary and Uruguay and serves on the board of Hope Haven, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing resources for the homeless. She and her husband, Kevin ('84), are members of Highland Church of Christ and have two children.
College of Sciences
Reconstructive dentist Tim Hacker ('74) has practiced in Bartlett, Tenn., for 30 years, continually learning and implementing the latest advances and technology. His professional memberships include the Tennessee Dental Association, American Dental Association and Academy of General Dentistry. He is an associate fellow of the American Academy of Implant Dentistry and also serves on its board of directors and as president of the Southern District. Hacker is past president of the Memphis/Germantown Art League and was selected Bartlett's favorite artist in 2000 and 2003. He is married to Tammie Skelton ('73), and they have two children and one grandson. The Hackers are members of Sycamore View Church of Christ.
By Liz Howell, director of alumni relations
Many people define success in terms of achievement, wealth, prestige, favor, status and power. Successful people enjoy the "good life" — financial security, throngs of admirers and fruits of their labor. Their accomplishments are noticed, and those also looking for success emulate their example.
Unfortunately, this definition of success deals only with the here and now of this life.
But God measures success by our obedience and faithfulness to him, regardless of opposition and personal cost. He defines success by our loyalty to him and whether we are accomplishing his goals and purposes.
I believe the success of the Harding experience is measured by the friendships cultivated within the University family, the difference our graduates choose to make in the lives of others, and their influence as lights in a dark world.
Recently two graduates whom I feel meet God's definition of success spoke of their rocky starts, humble beginnings, and how kind words of encouragement charted their course and became defining moments in their lives.
Bill Barden ('64) related how he originally planned to attend Harding for only one year. Because of deepening friendships, he decided to stay longer but majored in fun and friends, with very little attention to grades. However, through the encouragement of Jim Citty ('61), Ed Higginbotham ('60), Wilt Martin ('65) and Perry Mason Jr. ('59), Barden became a teacher at Harding Academy in Searcy and state championship football coach in spite of his transcript. His gentle and humble spirit has made an impact on thousands of young men and women on and off the field. Those of us fortunate to have this godly man mentor our sons and daughters are thankful for the encouragement of friends who helped him find his purpose in life.
Cliff Clark ('67) told of a time when he was showing off with his roommate, Tom Bateman ('67). At the time, drag racing in front of where Benson Auditorium now stands seemed like a good idea — burning rubber, driving fast and then retreating to A&W.
Unknown to them, Dr. Eddie Baggett ('50) witnessed the episode and followed them. The assistant professor of music gently talked to Clark about his behavior and how he could have hurt or killed someone. Clark said it is something he will never forget. As Baggett left, he turned and looked over his shoulder at the sheepish young men and smiled while saying, "I am glad you boys are here."
Clark never forgot the kindness of his remarks. Baggett made an impression on him that he fondly remembers more than 40 years later. He always thinks of him when he has to talk to an employee or someone concerning his or her behavior.
Clark and his wife, Tish Larkins ('71), are our 2008 Distinguished Alumni and credit their success to the influence and encouragement of coaches, including R.T. Clark and John Prock, and other University friends, faculty and staff.
Regardless of one's background or major, the Harding experience has a proven track record of preparing graduates for lives of service and training them to excel in their professions — in other words, allowing them to be truly successful.
I encourage you to reconnect and reunite with people you met at Harding. Write a note or send an e-mail to express the difference they made in your life. This will take time, but the reward is well worth it. If you need contact information, please call (800) 477-4312, ext. 1, or e-mail email@example.com.
By Ted Hackney, director of the Center for Charitable Estate Planning
Would you believe that a college education and tax break could go hand-in-hand? Acquiring both is easier than you think. It all begins with a charitable trust.
> Children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, etc., are nearing college age.
> You want to help with college and graduate school education.
> You do not have cash.
> You do have appreciated assets such as stock, mutual funds, property, business interests or art.
> You do not want to pay tax on the sale of your appreciated assets.
> You give appreciated property to a charitable trust.
> You pay no tax when appreciated property is sold and avoid capital gains tax.
> You receive a tax deduction for a portion of the gift to the trust.
> Trust income is given to your students when they enter college for tuition, room, board and other expenses.
George and Martha Adams have seven grandchildren ranging from age 4 to 11. The first two grandchildren will enter college in eight years. The Adams expect their grandchildren's higher education costs to exceed $1 million.
> The Adams contribute $680,000 of Big Box stock to a charitable trust.
> The Adams' overall tax savings exceeds $400,000.
> More than $1.1 million is distributed for the seven grandchildren's education.
> No income tax is owed on distributions.
> Bonus: The Adams' church and favorite university receive a total of $1 million at the end of the charitable trust.
Over a 20-year period, a $680,000 gift creates $400,000 in tax savings, $1.1 million in nontaxable distributions, and $1 million in gifts to favorite charities. We can run calculations for your specific situation. To learn more, contact me at (501) 279-4861 or firstname.lastname@example.org.