Rhonda Aaron

by Terry Watson | November 16th, 2020
Rhonda Aaron (Photos by Randall Lee-Contemporary Imaging)

Rhonda Aaron (Photos by Randall Lee-Contemporary Imaging)

Rhonda Aaron of North Little Rock, AR has devoted her life to helping and serving others. She is the Founder of Sister Friends United Inc., a non-profit organization of minority women with a mission to support, uplift and empower its members to better serve the community.

Sister Friends United Inc. was founded and incorporated in the State of Arkansas in October 2007. With well over a decade of service to the Pulaski County community, they have provided $30,00 in scholarships to assist young minority women in pursuing their dreams of attaining a college degree. They’ve hosted an array of workshops, conferences and luncheons for women with topics ranging from finance management to health and fitness.

Rhonda’s story is quite interesting. She grew up in Dumas, a small town in southeast Arkansas. There she learned her work ethic, playing piano on Sunday’s for the New Light MBC youth choir at age 9. Growing up in church “I learned how to pray and lean on God. This foundation continues to carry me through life. I never would have imagined having my very own day in two cities, receiving awards, and being the subject of news features. I contribute my upbringing to the success I’ve achieved in life. I passionately believe in the importance of hard work and being kind to others,” she shares. She also credits her grandmother for being a good example of giving your time to serve others.

Rhonda says she’s learned through the years while working for Sister Friends United Inc. on how important it is to have a solid and consistent brand that people can trust. There are so many nonprofits that don’t survive but their formula has worked for over a decade. Rhonda states, “We are a group of black women who are impacting our community. Our motto says, “United We Stand, United We Make a Difference”.

Sister Friends United initially started as a means to connect women and resources within the African American community to gain financial education, healthy living information sessions and empowerment conferences and workshops that would empower attendees to be stronger citizens of the community. A few of the inaugural year initiatives were to form a community partnership to focus on health and wealth. They connected with Baptist Health and Trainer Phyllis Hodges to teach healthy lifestyle habits. They also hosted a financial education workshop on budgeting, investing and retirement plans.

In 2008, the organization wanted to expand their community reach to support future minority women leaders. As a result, they created the Faith Scholarship. It was established for a female minority senior with a competitive GPA that plans to attend an Arkansas four-year college. They hosted the first formal banquet program to recognize the scholarship honorees in May 2008, at the Burns Park Hospitality House in North Little Rock, Arkansas.

As they began to gain momentum in the community by volunteering to work with and support other local nonprofit organizations, they wanted to grow their scholarship banquet to include honoring women in the community for their achievements and local community work. This idea birthed the inaugural Women of Excellence Awards and Faith Scholarship banquet. The purpose of the event was to provide a formal platform that would recognize the career achievements of African American women in their community, provide encouragement to the future leaders receiving the scholarships, and to inspire the event attendees. The honorees were recognized in five areas including Education, Media, Health/Social Service, Religion and Business. The first honorees were Dr. Katherine Mitchell (Education), Dr. Emma Kelly Rhodes (Religion), Annie Abrams (Social Service), Korto Momolu (Business) and Evangeline Parker (Media). Some of our most notable honorees included Dr. Jocelyn Elders and Honorable Lottie Shackelford.

May 12, 2018 was the 10th anniversary of the Women of Excellence Awards and Faith Scholarship, which represented honoring 50 women since inception and presenting our 28th scholarship. This event has been featured in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette as a High-Profile article titled, “Women Power” as well as being broadcast on Comcast Community local TV and many other magazine features, including STAND magazine and ML Community.

Sister Friends United Inc. is also committed to helping other nonprofit organizations. The Annual Hat Luncheon was created to bring awareness to and monetary support to other nonprofit organizations as well as local African American business owners. This annual event has donated $2,500 to help support the mission of several local nonprofit organizations including Sisters Living with Alopecia, Arkansas Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Sickle Cell Support Services, Timmons Art Foundation and Bearden Productions Art Studio, to name a few. The program includes local business spotlights and the notable hat contest.

Their Read, Write, Get Fit and Lead & Back to School Bash is a biennial program focused on supporting the needs of girls’ ages 12-18 and teaching key fundamentals that are important to their success as future leaders. There are breakout sessions and various speakers for each topic that stress the importance of education when it comes to reading, writing, self-care and responsibilities as a leader. The 2018 event was sponsored in partnership with a grant provided by Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield through their Blue & You Foundation. One hundred and ten girls have benefited from these free summer programs.

Each year, Sister Friends United Inc has provided a holiday meal and breakfast for a family in need as well as fulfilled the request of a child from the Salvation Army’s Angel tree. They have received names from and partnered with Second Baptist (John Barrow-Pastor Ivan Lambert) and volunteer annually with Power 92 to support the Watershed with a monetary donation and preparing food boxes to distribute to families in need.

Rhonda shares that she is inspired by women winning, and others who achieve success and live their dreams. “I understand that journey and it is inspirational to see the victory,” she says.
The future seems to be quite busy for the organization. They are preparing to expand outside of their home base in Little Rock, AR and opening national membership opportunities through their SFU Sister Circle, with a purpose to connect like-minded women through sisterhood and service through smaller chapters. They are also hosting their inaugural Girlfriend Conference in Orlando, Florida, on June 3-5, 2021. Its purpose is to bring together women from various walks of life to F.U.S.E “Fun, Uplift, Sisterhood and Empowerment”, They are combining a girlfriends trip with a powerful empowerment conference that will incorporate fun girlfriend activities, powerhouse motivational speakers. The three-day conference will end with a concert by Raheem DeVaughn.
Rhonda has a Bachelors of Arts in Mass Communication with an emphasis in Strategic communication from UA Little Rock. She is currently the Co-owner and Chief Operations Officer for Mid State Counseling and Recovery Service, a mental health agency located in North Little Rock, AR. She currently resides in North Little Rock with her husband of 26 years, Deon. They have one adult daughter, Brianna and a feisty four-year-old grandson, Chance. You can follow Sister Friends United Inc on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, You Tube, and their website.

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