By Edi Wood | Photography by Sarah Oden | Shot on location at The Rail Yard

   Bank OZK will serve as the presenting sponsor for Baggo, Brats & Blues at The Rail Yard – an easy-going, joy-filled afternoon – to benefit Habitat for Humanity of Central Arkansas. Bank OZK Vice President Eric Gustafson eagerly anticipates the perfect outdoor venue for early summer gatherings at The Rail Yard. As Eric notes, with the musical entertainment and a “super fun Baggo tournament,” a fresh venue encourages renewed commitment from the community.

   Eric recalls Bank OZK’s long-standing commitment, almost an entire decade, to support the mission of Habitat for Humanity. He hopes this fresh perspective, visible in a different vibe and venue, represents not only the bank’s ongoing commitment but its renewed vigor of investing in the American ideal of home ownership.

   According to Eric, Bank OZK has sponsored Habitat for Humanity at varying levels throughout the years. This includes financial support as well as publicity. Bank OZK relishes the opportunity to invest in the organization’s mission to empower home ownership – a message and goal that’s a “beacon of hope” for many Arkansans. It resonates with Eric and the bank’s commitment to affordable housing initiatives.  Eric facilitates lending and investments for affordable housing throughout the bank’s eight state footprint, aligning his personal values with the bank’s commitment to promote economic development, affordable housing, community services, revitalization and stabilization in its communities.

   Eric reflects on his early initiation into volunteering and believes volunteering is in his DNA. Growing up in Seattle in the 1970s – before the volunteer movement became such a driving force in community involvement – Eric and his family were part of the “grass-roots” volunteering many experienced at that time.  He remembers his family’s role in the community – contributing meals and other sources of assistance to neighbors in need. For his family, there were no strangers; everyone pitched in to help everyone.

   This spirit of generosity influenced Eric’s life. Graduating from BYU with a rigorous degree in philosophy, something which definitely “colors his approach to life,” he married a native and moved to Arkansas. His original plan hinged upon a basic five-year plan to work toward expanding his career in a larger market; but, 27 years later, he is still here and more committed than ever to giving back to the state and the region which have given him and his family so much.

   Eric has served on the Habitat for Humanity of Central Arkansas Board of Directors for almost ten years. It’s been a part of his own personal code to make the world a better place, and to leave it a better place than when he arrived.

 width=   Habitat for Humanity of Central Arkansas Vice President of Development Brad Robertson shares Eric’s enthusiasm about this early summer event. Featured on the agenda is live music from local Blues musicians Bluesboy Jag and Charlotte Taylor. Baggo tournament teams and guests will receive a “grilled brat, one free beer and happy hour drink specials while cheering on their favorite team.” Other food options from local food trucks will be available for purchase.

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