Monday, March 1, 2010

The Home & Garden Issue is HERE!!!!!!!!

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The Queen of Realtors: Meza Harris

Written by Roger Lee

A “short” biography of Meza Harris would have to be related in three segments (at least): childhood, motherhood, and career. As the latter period seems to engender the most interest these days, and covers the Meza that the modern NWA generation recognizes, we will favor her most recent, though surprisingly short (16 years) “professional” history.

That said, the childhood and motherhood eras offer a great deal of insight into the origins of the seemingly intrinsic qualities that surfaced, as the necessities of life impelled Meza into the real estate sales stratosphere.

She was born the youngest of seven children, and to say she was the “coddled princess” would be a gross understatement. This does not translate into “spoiled and arrogant”—to the contrary, her mother was a matriarchal figure of legendary ilk, and her Father was a kind, brilliant, self-effacing man, as calm as a quiet sea, yet always busy, with another project or invention (stop by the Bentonville Fire Station and see the fire engine he built by hand, recently restored). Decidedly shy, Meza, nevertheless, by virtue of her parents’ and siblings’ care and nurture, slowly morphed into an assured, statuesque, bright, kind and talented (great dancer and mischievous, witty cheerleader/student) high school personality, where she was one of the leaders of the “BIG 8”, an aggressively active group of eleven (go figure) girls, who ran the social calendar of teen-aged Bentonville High, from 1959 to 1962.

Married in the mid-Sixties, Meza had two children, David and Aricka, and settled into the motherhood era. As her gregarious and bubbly personality would dictate, her children’s friends gravitated toward the Harris household, as that was where social and joyous excitement originated. It was a happy, adventurous, and enlightening time, just as several small businesses in Northwest Arkansas began legends of their own.

In 1994, with her children essentially out of the nest, and a couple of personal hiccups behind her, Meza decided to “try” real estate (she had gotten her license, in the early Eighties, but had never sold a house). As she has iterated, she could not have picked a better career, though it was as if the career picked her. She readily gives credit to God, for ever-so-slowly guiding her in a direction that would place her (it would seem, perfectly) solidly into the right “calling”, especially since she never thought of herself as a “salesperson”.

Within a few days of her entry into the business, she was given “floor duty”, which translates to younger agents being assigned to the front desk, to take calls and greet prospective clients. She received a call from a Wal-Mart coordinator, who asked that she show one of their prospective employees around, as she sought to rent a house or apartment. Though this could not possibly be monetarily profitable, Meza, nevertheless, agreed and took on the task. Apparently, Meza radiated such personality, style, grace, and sweetness (all of this was just Meza acting normally), that the “prospective employee” gave a glowing, scintillating review of her “Meza Experience” to her Walmart compatriots.

That was the first, last, and only time Meza had floor duty. Buoyed by a reasonably steady (though a bit peripatetic) stream of prospects, Meza’s reach expanded, as her reputation for fairness and an unmatched dedication to her customers’ and clients’ best interests, became common knowledge, among business people, other agents, and the regular citizen-home-buyers-and-sellers.

Her “on-call-24/7” attitude was more an extension of her almost-manic desire to take care of her “people”, and her love of the interaction with the young and vibrant people, who gravitated in droves toward Northwest Arkansas. Meza contends that her work is “easy” and that she “fell in love” with the business, but she has also been blessed with four grandchildren, each of whom she loved from the moment she learned they were en route into the world. She credits them with bringing peace and absolute joy into the hectic, all-demanding (and sometimes, contentious) professional world that she dominates. As she says, “stress flies out the window when I’m watching Peyton (10), doggedly, patiently, and determinedly building some huge project, or taking Rachel (10) and her friends to the WAC for some joyous performance, or competing with Jackson (6) in a WII tennis or bowling match, or repeatedly kissing and hugging Sam (2)”.

She has led real estate sales in Northwest Arkansas for most of the last 16 years and, for the sake of property owners, buyers, and sellers, it is hoped that she will continue to shelter and coddle them for the next 16 years.

This should be an easy task for her, as she has been cared for and nurtured by her mother, father, sisters and brothers throughout her lifetime, a tradition upheld and enhanced by her children and grandchildren.

Finding Harmony in Harmons, Jamaica

Written by Kiara Goodwin

Until three weeks ago I didn’t understand when people would say that an experience couldn’t be fully explained. The sentiment makes sense to me after my mission trip to Jamaica. I can tell stories about the remarkable Jamaicans I befriended and the work that our group accomplished in a week. I will never be able to completely articulate the impact those seven days had on my life, and the ways in which I am forever changed. Nonetheless, I will continue to tell my story the best that I can.

I graduated from Bentonville High School and now attend the University of Missouri-Columbia, where I am currently a sophomore. Each year a group of students in different sororities and fraternities at MU travel to Harmons, Jamaica on a mission trip. When I first heard about this opportunity, there was no question in my mind that this was something that God wanted me to be a part of. I have discovered over this last year that it is hard at times to be a Christian in college, especially being in a sorority. When I heard that a group of Greek students who also have a desire to live for God and spread His Word were going on a mission trip, I knew I had to be involved. This year there were 40 of us who ventured to the Caribbean the week before classes resumed in January. This trip was much different than anything I’ve done. I’d heard stories from the people who had gone before, but I didn’t fully know what to expect. Jamaica means sunny beaches, clear waters, and luxury resorts to most Americans. That’s no longer what Jamaica means to me. Jamaica means poverty and brokenness; but it also means hope, love and faith.

The organization we were partnered with is called Won By One to Jamaica. In the town of Harmons they have built a Christian community center called the Harmony House. Won By One has groups like ours from schools and churches all over the United States come to Jamaica for a week at a time. A lot of the money that we raised for the trip went straight to the Jamaicans. It covered medical bills for those who can’t afford them, school fees for children who can’t pay for their own education, the wages of the Jamaicans who work for the Harmony House, and so much more. In the months leading up to our trip every person collected 100 pounds of clothing, school supplies, medical supplies, and other necessities in two suitcases to leave with the Jamaican people in Harmons. At the Harmony House there is a store where the women can pay a small fee and fill two Wal-Mart bags with these necessities for their families. This is the only shopping that some women can afford until their name comes up on the waiting list 18 months later. It was humbling to realize that what seemed like a small price for me to pay made such a difference to the Jamaicans.

Every day we split up into smaller groups and went to different worksites in Harmons. Throughout the week we helped build two houses, laid the foundation for two more to be built, and moved rocks and gravel to prepare another two foundations to be laid. These modest homes are the size of a college dorm room and don’t have running water or electricity. Usually between two and five people share this small space and are just happy to have a roof over their head. We also dug a pit for an outhouse, patched roofs, helped out in the elementary schools, worked in the Harmony House store, and so much more. I enjoyed working side-by-side with the men and women who are employed by the Harmony House. I loved hearing their stories and getting to know them and their families throughout the week. For having as little as they do, they are the most giving and selfless people I’ve ever met. The sense of community and love that they have for one another in Harmons is remarkable. It’s definitely something that I think Americans should try to imitate. Another one of my favorite things was spending time with the children. The kids were fascinated by the Americans and loved to come and play games with us. They are extremely friendly, fun, and bright. Each little smile touched my heart and is something that I will never forget.

One day we stopped our work after lunch to go to a place called the Infirmary. The worst conditions in an American nursing home are nice compared to the circumstances here. The Infirmary is a poorhouse where the physically and mentally ill are sent when they can’t pay for care or they don’t have any family to care for them. One of the people who had gone before described the patients as being ‘a step away from heaven.’ The conditions were the worst that I have ever seen. Some people crawled on the floor in adult diapers, unable to communicate. Others talked to themselves while rocking back and forth. I won’t forget the terrible things that I witnessed that day. But I also won’t forget the woman who smiled when I rubbed lotion on her hands; or the one who asked me to read Psalm 50 to her because it was her favorite; or the one who couldn’t say a word to me that I understood, but was calmed by holding my hand while I read the Bible to her. They are in this dreadful place, yet they are at peace with God and enjoy these little things. It was amazing, yet it didn’t make sense. That day and those women will be with me for as long as I live.

Won By One’s motto is “Changing Lives By Changing Lives.” They say that they see a change in the lives of Jamaicans because God’s grace and unconditional love is something that isn’t taught in their culture, but is shared with them when groups come. They see a change in the lives of Americans who serve because their eyes are opened to the reality of poverty and that lasting hope can only be found in Christ. I completely agree. My life has been changed in more ways than I can describe. I thank God everyday for allowing me to experience Him in such a way, and pray that I will be blessed enough to go to Jamaica again next January.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2: 8-10