BRIEF HISTORY (2002 – 2007) OUTLINE
Arkansas Veterans Cemetery Foundation
(aka Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery Beautification Foundation)
By Rev. Jim Pat Mills
Foundation Co-Founder, Charter Chairman (Feb2002 – Aug2007), Board Director (Feb2002 – Aug2010)
Following the resignation for health reasons of Foundation Chairman A.M. Armstrong and in preparation for the 060ct09 Foundation Board Meeting, Foundation Treasurer Pat Brooks asked me to prepare a brief history of the Foundation and to present said history at the 060ct meeting, thus the following history outline and attached exhibits:
In late ll 2001, Gov. Huckabee appointed me to the Arkansas Veterans Commission (aka Governor’s Commission on Veterans Affairs) and asked me to meet with Nick Bacon, MOH, then- Director, Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs (“ADVA”), about fixing the operating budget shortfall for the then-still-new Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery in North Little Rock (Gov. Huckabee was familiar with my 25-year history as a successful Oal/as-based investment banker and fundraiser for many 501 (c)(3) non-profit organizations). Following my first Commission meeting in Jan2002, I met with Bacon, who gave me a tour of the cemetery and copies of all applicable cemetery financials and budget projections for FY2002 and FY2003.
In Feb2002, I presented my comprehensive plan for organizing and operating a 501 (c)(3) non-profit to raise funds to cover cemetery beautification projects (to be named “Arkansas Veterans Cemetery Foundation”), which cannot be covered by the cemetery state-approved annual operating budgets, which are requested directly and in-writing by the ADVA Director to the Foundation Chairman, and which have been researched and approved by majority vote by the Foundation Board of Directors. The Foundation would be a completely independent non-profit Arkansas corporation, under absolutely no control and/or supervision of the ADVA, the State of Arkansas, the Arkansas Veterans Commission, or any veterans service organization (VFW, American Legion, DAV, MOM, etc.) at any level (post, district, state, regional, national, etc.). Bacon approved Mills’ plan without change and commissioned Mills to launch the Foundation.
In Mar2002, Bacon requested Mills to present the Foundation at the upcoming Apr2002 Commission meeting, for information purposes only, not for any kind of official approval purposes. At the Apr2002 Commission meeting, Mills presented the Foundation plan; and the Commission voted unanimously to endorse the Foundation and to support Mills’ efforts completely.
In May2002, the Foundation was incorporated in the State of Arkansas (see attached “Certificate of Incorporation” and “Articles of Incorporation”) as a 501 (c)(3) non-profit, the IRS tax-exempt status was filed and approved, and the Charter Board of Directors held its first Board meeting: Jim Pat Mills, Chairman; Bruce Wilson, Attorney-at-Law, Secretary; Adele Jacobs, CPA, Treasurer; and Nick Bacon, ADVA Director, Ex-officio Advisor.
Mills personally covered all organizational costs, including but not limited to printing, legal, accounting, state filing fees, IRS filing fees (over $700.00), and organizational/promotional travel (mileage, hotel, tickets, meals, etc.), which were accrued and paid prior to establishing the Foundation bank account (original deposit was also personally covered by Mills).
In Jun2002, Chairman Mills made his first of 48 group fundraising presentations during the Joint Opening Session of the 2002 VFW State Convention.
In Oct2002, the Foundation funded its first cemetery beautification project (a major planting); and, during the next five years under the Mills chairmanship, the Foundation funded-in-full every single beautification project requested by the ADVA Director, included the “Avenue of Flags” in 2004 and the “Wall of Honor” in 2007 (see attached photo of “Wall” installation). Mills covered the entire cost of the “Wall” (over $2,000.00).
In 2006, the Foundation launched its first fundraising website (see attached), which was replaced by the ADVA master website (which includes the cemetery) in 2008.
The first five-year IRS filing (2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006) reflected total funds-raised for the five-year period at $28,648.00, with the top two donors: Jim Pat Mills, $11,937.13; and Arkansas State VFW Department, $5,199.39 (Pat Brooks was responsible for raising over $5,000.00 in individual and post donations during this period, thus she is honored on the “Wall” among the Platinum Donors).
During the first five years, Pat Brooks was elected Director and Treasurer, replacing Adele Jacobs; Charles Singleton, Attorney-at-Law, was elected Director and Secretary, replacing Bruce Wilson; A.M. Armstrong was elected Director and Chairman, replacing Jim Pat Mills as Chairman (Mills is still a Director); upon retiring from ADVA, Nick Bacon was elected Director and is still serving the Board; and Dave Fletcher became the Board’s Ex-officio Advisor, when he was appointed ADVA Director.