Karla: (501)626-0086 Shelia: (870)213-5212
A Vision Became A Reality
The Need To Give
We (Karla and Beckham Allen) were lucky enough to be able to travel the world with Beckham's job. We lived in Saudi Arabia, Scotland and traveled everywhere. After touring a safari in Africa, we found ourselves in a village where a group of 20 to 30 "beautiful, bright-eyed children" excitedly guided us to where a well had recently been installed.
It was like something out of a movie, it touched us so much that water meant so much to them ... even as children. You knew that they understood what a difference that well made in their lives. From that moment, Beckham declared that one day he would return to Africa and do something to help.
An Idea Was Born
That day came nearly 20 years later, after Beckham had been laid off from his job as a project manager for IBM, and Karla had been teaching business and accounting courses at the high school level.
That day the couple saw George "Shoeman" Hutchings of Eagle Wings Ministries on TV, explaining how he funded drilling rigs and created wells for people in Kenya. The Allens contacted Hutchings, who showed them how he'd organized shoe drives to raise money for drilling wells.
Soon afterward, Ozark Water Projects began with Karla, Beckham, and their eldest son, Christopher, as co-founders.
We began collecting shoes from schools and churches across Arkansas. We held events that were featured in Soiree and the Arkansas Democrat Gazette. Ozark Water Projects, Inc. took off and was growing rapidly. My role in the organization was to present at schools and churches and to outreach. Beckham and Chris did everything else. My son Christopher helped at every level of the organization, but as a hydrogeologist was most interested in groundwater movement. Beckham, kept track of every detail and seemed to be everywhere, all at once...he did it all.
Beckham was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia in 2013. Quickly his mental capacity declined and Chris and I had a lot to do to make up for his absence. We made sure to take Beckham on our 2015 trip to Haiti, knowing it would be his last.
Losses and Gains
Chris suffered from serious health issues and passed away in January, 2016. This left me devastated, Beckham utterly confused as to where Chris was, and Ozark Water Projects truly struggling.
I held it together, mainly, because I had to care for a quickly deteriorating, wonderful husband. I did it all, but not well. Beckham passed in January of 2017. Needless to say, shoes were not picked up, calls were not made, projects were not fund raised for, and shoe drives were not organized. Then I met Shelia, the chaos coordinator, the principal at Rural Special School. She had been a part of shoe drives for Ozark Water Projects and was horrified at how unorganized I was. We became fast friends as she got me on track and "restarted" our organization.
has a BBA in Finance and a MS in Education. She has over 15 years accounting and business experience. Her main responsibilities include all accounting functions as well as fund raising and marketing activities. Her experience in teaching makes her uniquely qualified to work with schools
and organizations in the collection of shoes. Karla does all of our public relations works as well. Her experience in business and education makes her uniquely qualified to work with schools, churches, and other civic organizations. Karla makes a personal appearance to kick off all shoe drives providing presentations that are often engaging, informative, and uplifting but always tailored specific to the intended audience.
Shelia has a Bachelor of Arts in English with a concentration in Elementary Education and both a Masters and Specialist Degree in Educational Administration. Shelia is the principal at Rural Special Elementary in Fox, Arkansas. She met Karla Allen through a shoe drive being held by the pastor at her church. Their friendship sprung into a wonderful working relationship and Shelia has been quintessential to the efforts of Ozark Water Projects.
Courtney has a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and a Master's of Public Health in Biostatistics. She previously volunteered with Ozark Water Projects and began working with us in August 2017. Courtney performs all administrative assistant duties, including follow-up with schools, arranging shoe pick-ups, website design and updates, and organization.