WORDS Marian Conrad, Executive Director, Project Compassion

Mar 1, 2024 | Nonprofits

The mission of Project Compassion is to bring joy, companionship, and enhanced quality of life to residents in long-term care and senior living facilities.

Project Compassion is a local nonprofit formed in 1972 by the late Gloria White. As a nurse and wife of a local physician, Gloria was appalled to find most residents in nursing homes had no family or friends visiting. She led a small group of volunteers to begin visiting residents in two local nursing homes. Her goal was to mitigate the loneliness and isolation residents felt by ensuring each had a volunteer to befriend them and visit on a regular basis. She believed every resident deserved to be respected, valued, and feel a sense of belonging, no matter their circumstance.

For over fifty years, Project Compassion has stayed true to its mission and Gloria’s vision while increasing the unique programs we provide. We are a United Way of Fort Smith agency serving over 2,500 residents in twenty-six long-term care and senior living facilities in six counties.

Our volunteers, ranging in age from 5 to 93, are multi-faceted, kind-hearted individuals from throughout the Arkansas River Valley and Eastern Oklahoma. GrandFriends are volunteers aged 5-17, who serve individually or with schools, student organizations, and community groups. We offer opportunities for all ages to visit residents one-to-one or to get involved with our music, card writing, pet therapy programs, wellness events, and holiday celebrations.

Paws for Joy is our recreational pet therapy program. Our residents love visits from furry friends! Pets provide gentle joy as they visit room to room, with their tails wagging, offering hugs. It is a three-way benefit that warms the hearts of residents and inspires volunteers as they experience the joy their precious pet brings to others. The pet benefits by making new friends, getting exercise, and extra attention! Facility staff also benefit from pet visits as they feel reduced stress after a pet encounter and their residents are happier. As mood lifters, trust builders, friend makers, and heart warmers, dogs, cats, small farm animals, and other pets, all make successful therapy animals. We are currently adding pet therapy teams to accommodate more visits. If you are interested in the Paws for Joy program, contact us!

To volunteer for any of our programs, donate, help with events, or request a volunteer visit for someone, contact us at 479-783-2273 or

Project Compassion
1205 South Albert Pike, Fort Smith, Arkansas

Do South Magazine

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