In 1910 business man and conservationist, Roscoe C. Hobbs, built a home in Rogers, AR — just 10 miles from what is now Hobbs State Park, over 12,000 acres of sprawling Ozark landscape. Old newspaper articles say that two years later the home caught fire in the middle of winter, burning slowly enough in frigid temperatures that neighbors, working together, helped salvage furnishings, original windows, a tub, light fixtures and many other items from the home for the Hobbs family. More than 100 years later, the people that now live in that since-rebuilt house are exactly the kind of neighbors who would do the same to support their community as well.
Sahid and Ashley Kamara, and their kids Joanna, Sunny, Leo and Jordan, have lived in their 3,700-square-foot home for two years now, all the while working to make a difference in the revitalization of a community they feel so fortunate to be a part of.
“My husband and I, along with one of our best friends, host meetings in our home where we try to help educate [others] on local politics and the importance of knowing your districts and your representatives,” Ashley shares. “We’ve hosted a couple of meetings to help educate [others] and hear voices of DACA recipients [and] also have an immigration attorney [answer] questions with [the] intention to take away the stigma and the title of ‘illegal.’ My husband, Sahid, was born in Freetown, Sierra Leone. He and his family fled the country in the late 1990s due to their civil war. After spending several months in a refugee camp in Guinea, his family relocated to the United States and settled in Iowa (they were granted political asylum and later became citizens). He’s a proud alumni of University of Northern Iowa where he received his graduate degree. He’s been an employee of Walmart for almost 15 years starting his career as a cashier. Through advancement and various career opportunities he relocated to Rogers, AR to work at the world headquarters of Walmart.”
Ashley, born and raised in Muskogee, OK, is a photographer, activist, and pre-law student at Arkansas State University. She, as Sahid describes, is deeply embedded in the community, “She is co-founder of United Progressives (UP), a grassroots organization that focuses on civic engagement and community efforts to drive awareness to social injustices of disenfranchised populations,” he says. “Ashley is passionate about reinforcing the idea that ‘all politics is local.’ She serves on the Education and Spiritual Growth Committee at First United Methodist Church and was recently appointed by the Mayor to serve on the Public Arts Commission.”
With all their involvement in giving back to their community, Sahid and Ashley have four children at home and a baby girl due later this spring. Their spirit of altruism and gratitude for their richness of life is palpable throughout their home, a lively refuge of their own where creativity is encouraged, toys are enjoyed, and things are in a realistic but beautiful state of flux — a season of life where a home inhales and exhales with the milestones of growing children. The family’s design style takes this very realness that others tend to bemoan — the chaos of child-rearing — and celebrates it to a level of sophistication, elevating the belongings of their little ones to showcase their distinct personalities in all glories.
“We all feel that walking into our home begins our daily process of renewal,” Ashley begins. “Regardless of the to-do list, the dishes, uncooked food to [be] made, and dust on the stairs there’s always time to appreciate the liveliness and loudness of our home life.”
And appreciate it they do. Through the rooms echoing with laughter, you’ll find cherished exhibits that show the Kamara family was here: a doorframe etched with markings measuring the height of each child, treasured trinkets for little hands, artwork and photos throughout depicting powerful Black leaders, and a swing hanging from the ceiling of the top floor. “We decided, after trial and error, to live in the space before we decorated it or started any type of remodel process,” Ashley says. “We need to get a feel of the purpose of the room, the energy of the space and what functionality it can bring to our family. I never feel obligated to keep something where it’s at if it doesn’t feel right just because I screwed a hole in the plaster to put it there.”
Since they purchased the home — “we decided within minutes of walking through (while the real estate agent held our baby) that we wanted to make an offer” — Ashley and Sahid have done extensive DIY work to remodel the home themselves, including replacing the living room’s pink-on-pink walls and trim. Throughout the home they preserved existing hardwood floors, removed countless sheets of wallpaper, painted walls and trim and demo’d and retiled bathrooms. But these improvements are just icing on the cake for the couple, as their true prize is the area in which they live and the people in their lives.
“Sahid and I find ourselves very fortunate to be surrounded by our community,” Ashley shares. “We have close friends that volunteer passionately for our PTO, church, political campaigns, keeping our trails clean, and city employees that are consistently working for the responsible growth of our area. Our pastor who leads our downtown church calls on us to ‘Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can’.” A call to action not lost on this family. —Kelli
Image above: The Kamara home. Ashley tells us, “With the first [immigration] ban that happened under the Trump administration, we had a local nonprofit come [to our home] to help educate [people on] the process of what it’s actually like to apply for asylum or citizenship and the vetting process that that entails.” From that meeting, Ashley and Sahid and their team of 12 went through training and began to navigate the current administration’s new regulations so they can sponsor and support refugees locally.
This post is brought to you by Juniper & Scout, an online shop offering the best in modern, handcrafted design so you can always find the perfect gift (or well-deserved treat for yourself). Visit the shop here! Thank you for supporting our small business sponsors who help us bring you free, original content every weekday!