Welcome to OARS

Ozarks AIDS Resources and Services

Items of Interest

Employees of First National Bank of Berryville Contribute $1,255 to OARS


 Adam Plagge, (left), with First National Bank of Berryville, presented a $1,255 check to Ozarks AIDS Resources and Services (OARS), represented here by its Executive Director Carole Sturgis and OARS Medical Director Dr. Charles Horton. Adam said the donation represented money employees set aside whenever they wear jeans on Wednesday. Every quarter, he said, they donate to a local non-profit and this time it was OARS.

Community Care Team

The Community Care Team (CCT) of Carroll County assists OARS in many ways, including educational outreach and, of course, at our Fundraisers. They have also helped with the OARS exhibit at the Carroll County Fair.

Educational Outreach

OARS will conduct free educational outreach and training services whenever and wherever we are asked, including schools, business establishments, and community organizations. This training may be conducted by Dr. Alice Martinson, past president and one of the founding members of OARS, along with Carole Sturgis, Dr. Horton, Sherri Plumlee RN, and representatives of the staff of the Health Department. Here, Alice is seen at the Northwest Arkansas School of Massage and Continuing Education Center in Eureka Springs talking to future massage therapists.

 Arkansas AIDS Foundation 2005 Compassion Award

The 2005 Compassion Awards were presented by the Arkansas AIDS Foundation on December 9, 2005. Carole Sturgis was extremely honored to receive the Outstanding Achievement Award for her work as Executive Director of OARS. The beautiful statue given to the recipients is the creation of Mr. Kevin Kresse, brother of Dr. Greg Kresse and Cynthia Kresse. Kevin is a very gifted artist who crafted this statue in the form of a human torso with an enlarged hand shaped in the deaf symbol for "love and compassion". Presenting this award to Carole were Lawrence Dearman, Executive Director of the Arkansas AIDS Foundation, and Rene Shapiro of Channel 7 in Little Rock. OARS Board Member Rae Hahn accompanied Carole to Little Rock for the award ceremony.

A & U Magazine Features a Community Profile on OARS

The September 2005 issue of A & U Magazine (known as America's AIDS Magazine) featured a Community Profile on OARS in their Newsbreak section. They also featured OARS on their web site. This included the OARS logo and a picture of Dr. Horton. OARS extends our heartfelt thanks to the staff of this excellent magazine for this feature. Copies of A & U are available through OARS at no charge.

Following is the article as it appeared on page 8 of this issue:

Ozarks AIDS Resources & Services (OARS) has been in operation since 1993, a year after a group of concerned residents in Carroll County, Arkansas, came together to address HIV/AIDS in their small-town community in the northwest corner of the state. First on their list: Medical services. To that end, OARS offers a free clinic, providing care, medications, and testing. Carole L. Sturgis, the nonprofit’s executive director and one of its original founders, explains how OARS thought it responsible to limit its services to clients from the surrounding seven or eight counties, including some in neighboring Missouri: “Obviously, when you offer a free clinic people want to come from all over. You can’t do that with a clear head and a good conscience because when some of those folks are really ill they can’t get here. But we also made a decision not to draw a county line.”

Sturgis, who volunteers her services, offers that OARS is the epitome of a community-based organization. She’s not exaggerating. Thanks in large part to Dr. Charles R. Horton (pictured), an MD who has become a go-to-guy on the local and national AIDS healthcare scene, the organization’s forty-two clients (“male and female, straight and gay, young and old”) receive top-notch healthcare. Dr. Horton, who also donates all of his services, is joined by part-time nurses and a lab tech, whose salaries are partially funded by a local hospital, St. John’s—Berryville. The staff is paid about fifty-percent of the going rate, says Sturgis, who adds that staff members often do not even turn in their hours. The hospital also slashes its fees for testing. Much of the medications that OARS provides comes through pharmaceutical programs. Local pharmacies also provide medications at a reduced rate, usually at cost. Asked if this model could be reproduced elsewhere, Sturgis answers with a resounding, “Yes!”

OARS also conducts educational outreach and educational training services, working with everyone from at-risk youth to local massage therapy students. “You have to educate the public, so they know not only what AIDS is, but also what AIDS isn’t. Not just how it is transmitted, but how it is not transmitted,” says Sturgis, who has long worked in the AIDS field. One recent challenge has been what Sturgis calls the Magic Johnson syndrome. “The kids see Magic, and he is indeed leading a full, good life. [In turn] a lot of our teenagers have told me, ‘If I get AIDS, so what?’ But ‘If I get AIDS’ is not acceptable because there still is not a cure.” Though we’ve come a long way from the early days” says Sturgis, “AIDS hasn’t gone away. We’d like it to go away, but it hasn’t gone away.”

Every three years, a birthday party and fundraiser helps OARS stay afloat. The last one raised $27,000 in one night. “This is rural America and we had 480 people show up — that’s huge! The goal for the next one, on January 23, is 600 people and $40,000, and we hope to find an angel to match those funds,” says Sturgis. “But if our fundraiser doesn’t bring in some megabucks, if we don’t get our most recent proposal funded, if we continue to take on more patients, somewhere down the road we’re going to have to either start charging or be out of business. Being out of business is not acceptable.”

Special OARS Volunteer

Kelsey Kaplan is a student at Viewpoint School in California. She decided that she wanted to do something to assist individuals who are HIV positive. After checking with an AIDS organization in her area, she thought she could better serve a small, community-based organization and asked Ms. Heather Brunold, one of the Administrators of the school, to assist. Ms. Brunold and her husband are related to Dr. Alice Martinson, past president of OARS.

Our Executive Director was thrilled with the efforts this 14-year old student is putting forth to obtain donations that will help others. OARS provided AIDS Awareness ribbons and various publications about HIV/AIDS and about OARS.

We are so very proud to have Kelsey as an OARS volunteer.