Some 100 female employees of the Arkansas Department of Correction took part in a day-long “Phenomenal Women Class” learning session Friday at the John R. Fallis Memorial Waterfront Facility in Regional Park.
The annual event — a favorite among the employees — was initiated by ADC Deputy Warden Fred Campbell and originally called “Assisting the Assistant.” Campbell eventually turned the program over to his then-secretary, Ardella Bearden, now a member of the director’s staff.
This was the 13th year that Bearden has overseen the event.
“She works hard to make sure this day is both well-planned and fun,” ADC Communications Director Shea Wilson said of Bearden. “She does an outstanding job.”
In a written address titled “Driven for a Purpose,” Bearden said, “It’s not about you. It never was and it never will be. The sooner you realize that, the better life you will live. It is the purpose of your life rather than your personal fulfillment that is greater.
“There are no accidents or coincidences in life,” she continued. “Everything happens for a reason. This simply means that you are not an accident. Everything in the universe was designed with a purpose in mind. Even though you may find it hard to accept sometimes, so were you.”
Comparing trials and tribulations to storms, she said character isn’t measured by the strength of a storm but rather how an individual conducts him or herself as they endure it.
Mark Stephens of ADC’s Varner Unit was the master of ceremonies. Arkansas Parole Board Chairman John Felts delivered the welcome.
Speakers included Warden Kay Howell, Assistant Warden Michelle Williams, Emma Hamer, Deputy Warden Joe Page, Ebony Harris, Antoinette Davis, Major Linda Dixon and Shirley Lowe.