The November Hot Springs Village Area Chamber of Commerce Partner Up Luncheon was hosted by the DeSoto Club Restaurant, located at 100 Clubhouse Drive in Hot Springs Village. The main topic of the November 19 meeting was presented by Barbara Zavrel of the Village Employees Benefit Fund (VEBF)
According to the VEBF website, “The Village Employees Benefit Fund depends almost exclusively on donations from Village residents, with additional support from local area commercial sponsors.”
Ninety-five percent of donations received are used for year-end appreciation checks to HSV POA line employees. Middle and upper management are not recipients of this gift. The remaining five percent is used for printing costs, mailings, and some modest promotional expenses. The VEBF is run completely by volunteers who work hard to keep costs low and promote the cause.
In 2021 the VEBF gave every full-time hourly employee a check for $300 and $150 to each part-time employee. This program is privately run and is approved by, but not affiliated with, the POA.
Zavrel said, “This year is unusual. We came off of the best year of giving the Village has ever had, and now we are in a year where people are concerned about finance and the economy and what the future holds. We [VEBF] are not quite as well funded right now as we were last year.”
Zavrel said the VEBF has a corporate sponsor program. The program levels are Platinum, Gold, Silver, Bronze, and Copper, with each level receiving increased acknowledgment based on the donation amount. Acknowledgment of corporate sponsorship is made on several venues, including the VEBF website, Facebook page, and a newspaper ad.
In addition to the annual check, the VEBF also has a Continuing Education Program, an Emergency Fund Program, and a Financial Wellness Program. The Financial Wellness Program, in conjunction with Regions Bank, provides a free and voluntary online webinar to help POA employees gain a greater understanding of financial tools and apply them to their lives.
The VEBF was founded in 1999 when a destructive ice storm ravaged and completely crippled Hot Springs Village. The perilous condition of the tree-strewn roads made driving impossible. POA employees, road crews, and office workers alike quickly responded to the emergency and began clearing the roadways so emergency vehicles could respond where needed. According to the VEBF website, “The massive cleanup was a heroic effort, way beyond the normal call of duty.”
This heroic response called for extraordinary measures from the community, and the VEBF was established. At first, the word about the fund was not widely spread, and donations that the first year only resulted in $16 per employee. But even this modest amount was greatly appreciated by the hardworking POA employees, and the fund has grown bigger and better every year. In these times of economic uncertainty and inflation, the gift continues to be appreciated.
You can make a difference. Remember the hardworking POA employees this holiday season and thank them by sending a donation check to:
Village Employees Benefit Fund, P.O. Box 8503, Hot Springs Village, AR 71910
Cover Image Features Barbara Zavrel of the Village Employees Benefit Fund (VEBF) at the November Chamber Partner Up Luncheon
Photos Taken at the HSV Area Chamber of Commerce November 2022 Meeting (Click Photo to Enlarge)
By Cheryl Dowden; Photography by Joe Dowden