Melinda Faubel Recently Featured in Arkansas Democrat Gazette

Story by: Shea Stewart of the Arkansas Democrat Gazette

Melinda Faubel, director of external affairs for AT&T in Arkansas, is the lead volunteer for this year’s ArkansasGives.

On this still spring day, an AT&T conference room in downtown Little Rock is mostly empty, save for some tables and chairs. No commotion. No booming voices. No shrieks of excitement. Just brown paneled walls circling silence.

The atmosphere will change dramatically Thursday, when the third and final ArkansasGives, an 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. online giving event, calls this conference room home for the day. Then the bland conference room will explode with activity and color: green, yellow and white paper lanterns, yellow clothed tables, potted green shrubs and fresh flowers.

Sponsored by the Arkansas Community Foundation — which helps Arkansans protect, grow and direct their charitable dollars and supports nonprofits working for Arkansans — ArkansasGives allows donors to give money online through via credit or debit cards (there’s a $25 minimum donation) to their choice of about 940 Arkansas nonprofits. Volunteers in the conference room will closely watch the fundraising. Big donations will be announced. And in the middle of all this will be Melinda Faubel, lead volunteer for this year’s ArkansasGives, the last year for the event.

There are three goals for ArkansasGives: getting people excited about nonprofits, expanding the marketing and fundraising capabilities for Arkansas nonprofits, and making more people aware of the impact nonprofits have statewide. Organizers believe one more event will accomplish these goals. ArkansasGives in 2015 and 2016 raked in 26,087 donations for more than $6 million funneled to more than 600 Arkansas nonprofits. The goal of this year’s online giving event is $5 million.

Melinda Faubel is the six-time winner of AT&T’s President’s Volunteer Service Award for volunteering 100 or more hours during a 12-month period.

“Arkansas is one of the most generous states in regards to our giving, so I’m confident we will meet and exceed the $5 million goal,” says Faubel, who is the director of external affairs for AT&T in Arkansas. “Think of the impact we can make if every Arkansan makes a donation on that day. Everybody can make a difference on April 6.” The infusion of cash helps the nonprofits, but it also increases their reach. “This one-day online giving program helps expand marketing and fundraising capabilities for Arkansas nonprofits, so they can take advantage of social media and online giving to achieve their missions,” says Heather Larkin, Arkansas Community Foundation president and chief executive officer. “The Community Foundation is providing $400,000 in bonus funds as incentives this year and has provided more than $1 million in incentives over the three years.”

Supporting Arkansas is dear to Faubel’s heart. She’s a Little Rock native who graduated from Little Rock Central High School and then earned a bachelor’s degree of science in industrial engineering from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville and a master of business administration degree from the University of Dallas. She and her husband, Steve, have made Little Rock their home. The couple are active members of Trinity United Methodist Church in Little Rock and have three children: Christine, Wilson and Christian.

Faubel went to work for AT&T in 1981, back when it was Southwestern Bell, first as an engineer for 10 years. She later served in human resources, and for the last 15 years has worked in external affairs, a position she calls “a great job” since she is responsible for the contribution budget, sponsorships and local advertising for AT&T in Arkansas. She also is a longtime member of the AT&T Pioneers, AT&T’s community service organization, and of the Women of AT&T, currently serving on the boards of both.

Her love of volunteering extends outside her work, though, as she has served or is serving on a number of boards for organizations such as City Year Little Rock/ North Little Rock, the Little Rock Parks and Recreation Commission and Riverfest. She’s also six-time winner of the President’s Volunteer Service Award for those who volunteer more than 100 hours a year. And there’s another award on its way for 2016, when she accumulated about 250 hours of volunteering.

“All you have to do is volunteer once, and you realize you get more out of it than the people you are helping,” she says. While her volunteerism is personal, Faubel says she is fortunate to work for a company that believes strongly in supporting its community.