Thursday, January 28, 2010

Tulsa's “Mabee Babies” are 6.5 Times More Likely to Play for the NFL

--NEWS RELEASE-- Boys and Girls Club in Poor Neighborhood Also Produces Doctors, Lawyers and Journalists TULSA, OK — Robert Meachem, who will play in the Super Bowl Feb. 7, is admired for his talents as a wide receiver for the New Orleans Saints. But in his home town of Tulsa, the 6’2” 210 pound athlete is a “Mabee Baby” to Jo Bright, director of The Salvation Army North Mabee Boys and Girls Club and a mentor to club members. Comparing statistics furnished by the NFL to records kept by The Salvation Army, if an athlete has played any sport as a member of the North Mabee club, his chances of playing for the NFL are 6.5 times greater than a football player on a Division I college team. Members of the North Mabee club also have a better chance of succeeding in life than non-members from the economically disadvantaged neighborhood of North Tulsa. Club alumni have become doctors, lawyers, successful businessmen and journalists, according to Bright.... The club, located in a neighborhood with a median household income of $19,145, less than half the national average, has sent nine former members to the NFL in the last 23 years: Spencer Tillman, San Francisco 49ers and Houston Oilers; Renaldo Works, Houston Texans and Miami Dolphins; Aaron Lockett, Tampa Bay Buccaneers; Thomas Hill, Green Bay Packers; Reggie Brooks, Washington Redskins; Tony Brooks, Philadelphia Eagles; Robert McQuarters, NY Giants and Chicago Bears (McQuarters played for the Giants in the 2007 Super Bowl and the Giants won); Felix Jones,II, Dallas Cowboys; and Meachem.

Meachem said Tuesday he was in trouble “a lot” as a youth, but was only caught once by Mrs. Bright. “She gave me a long talk that was like a whoopin,” Meachum said. “The North Mabee club was like a home away from home. Mrs. Bright pushes you to be the best you can be both in academics and sports. She’s like a mother to the kids at the club. For example, if you had an anger problem she would help you with it. Growing up, we were very competitive and I really hated losing. I still hate losing, but the club helped me learn to control myself,” Meachem said.

Statistics on kids aged six to 12 (ages of the club players) making it into the NFL aren’t available. But NFL research shows that the probability of a Division I player making it to the pros is .06 percent or six in 10,000. About 100 kids play football in the North Mabee Boys and Girls club every year, according to Bright. Of the 2,300 kids who have played in the last 23 years, .39 percent of total players have made it into the NFL making it 6.5 times more likely than a Division I player making into the NFL.

Bright attributes the success of the Mabee Babies who have played for the NFL not only to the club but to their parents. “Each of the kids had parents who supported the child and supported the club,” Bright said. She also attributes their success to the training they received at their high schools and colleges and to their North Mabee coaches – most of them volunteers. “I appreciate the consistency and dedication of the coaches who not only coach the kids at the club but follow the kids all through their athletic career,” Bright said.

The probability of a Mabee Baby getting in the NFL still isn’t great, so what happens with the kids who don’t play for the NFL? What is the likelihood that they will succeed in life in other ways? Bright has sent so many kids to college during her tenure that she has lost count. Former club members have become doctors, lawyers, successful businessmen and journalists.

“North Mabee has been an intricate part in their growth and development, but we don't just teach football. We're concerned with their grades, how they carry themselves in public, whether they're developing into good citizens and we try to help with any obstacles they may have. I think most of the children that come through the North Mabee club, first know that there's a lot of love, lots of hugs and a whole bunch of ‘How is school going?’ ” Bright said.

Athletic achievements aren’t considered in the choice of a “Youth of the Year” award, the club’s most coveted honor. Bright said she looks at how kids treat other kids, how many activities they’re involved in, if they help with club functions, and if they’re keeping up with their schoolwork.

Bright said the kids call her "old school" but according to David Litterell, executive director of the six Tulsa area Salvation Army Boys and Girls Clubs it’s a method that works.

“Jo Bright is North Mabee. I wish I could clone her. When she started at the club the gym was shot full of bullet holes. The club is in a neighborhood that has one of the highest crime rates in the city, but now even the gangs leave it alone. Jo has transformed the club and she’s transformed the lives of the kids who go to the club,” Litterell said.

Several club alumni returned to the North Mabee last year to help with the First Annual Felix Jones Football Camp. Among them were Guy Troupe, former NFL Director of Player and Employee Development and former NCAA Director of Enforcement and Damario Solomon-Simmons, a Tulsa attorney who has many sports stars as clients including Felix Jones.

In addition to the Mabee Babies who played in the NFL, former club members excelled in other sports. In basketball, North Mabee alumnus John Starks plays for the New York Knicks and alumnus Ryan Humphrey plays for the Utah Jazz. The first woman from Oklahoma to play on a Women’s National Basketball Association team was club alumna Iciss Tillis who played at Duke University.

Bright’s son Rocky played for Oklahoma University in 2000 when they won the Big 12 Championship and national championship. Rocky now works for the Tulsa Chamber of Commerce and volunteers as a coach at the North Mabee club, along with his father, Darryl. But Bright’s volunteer recruitment goes well beyond her husband and her son. Salvation Army Area Commander Roy Williams said Bright is talented at recruiting and retaining volunteers, one of the keys to a successful club.

“There’s something about Jo that makes people want to do the right thing, whether it’s a six year old at the club or the CEO of a bank. Everyone knows how dedicated Jo is to the North Mabee Club,” Williams said.

One of the programs Bright created that helps get kids into college is the ACT preparation tutoring program. “In 1995, a club member came to me when he was at Booker T. Washington High School and said ‘Mrs. Bright, I can’t pass the ACT exams.’ ” Bright went to area schools but didn’t receive any help.

However, one teacher at Booker T. helped connect her with the right people and she started the program which still continues. For two years, Felix Jones, II, has contributed the funds to continue the program ACT preparation program. Bright personally seeks funding for other programs at the club. “I’ve never been afraid to ask for money – from any company or individual,” she said.

Bright has solicited free dinners for the kids at some of the most expensive restaurants in Tulsa, but only after the kids completed an etiquette class that she organized and recruited teachers for. She organizes trips to Tulsa’s Air and Space Museum where kids get to use a flight simulator. Two of the kids excelled and she guided their interest in aviation.

“Kids want to know that someone outside their home cares about them. They want someone to spend time with them. That’s what Mr. Bright and Rocky and I do. We do kids. It’s our life.”
Writers Note: Jo Bright is an extraordinary woman. She is also extremely modest about her accomplishments and was reluctant to be in any story. In fact, she only agreed because she felt it might bring volunteers and funds to the North Mabee Boys and Girls Club. Thank you, Jo, for allowing me to post the story. My dream for you is that someone will give you and Mr. Bright tickets to the Super Bowl and you can see one of your Mabee Babies play. Any volunteers? Contact me @ 918-587-7801! -Sallie

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

More Winter Weather Coming!

It looks like another round of winter storms is heading to the Tulsa area.  I just wanted to post quickly and remind everyone that The Center of Hope at 102 N. Denver will be open through the storm.  The facility can house more than 300 people in a single night and clients get warm showers and hot meals.  So, if you know someone in need, send them our way.  Also, if you're a resident of Sand Springs - our Boys & Girls Club at 4403 South 129th West Avenue will be open as an emergency shelter if needed.  I'll update more when I get details!

Thanks Tulsa, stay warm and be safe!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Looking back at the Christmas Season

Everyone sees the red kettles and hears the ringing of the bells but do you ever wonder where the money goes?   Here is our "report card" for the holiday season, thanks to everyone who volunteered or donated in order to make these numbers possible!

Total number of volunteers:  2,757 (Wow! Thanks)

Total number of people served:  14,019
Holiday meals served:  2,013
Food baskets distributed:  5,200
Clothing items distributed:  16,216
Toys distributed:  32,943
Senior gifts:  750
Prison families served: 33

Friday, January 22, 2010

Annual Benefit Dinner - Speaker Announced

We are excited to announce the featured speaker for the 2010 Salvation Army Benefit Dinner, Mr. Bill O’Reilly.  Every year this annual event brings national celebrities to Tulsa to support our efforts to help those in need. Past speakers include: Dave Barry, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, Emmet Smith, Walter Cronkite and many others.

The 2010 Salvation Army Benefit Dinner will be held on Saturday, March 13th at the newly remodeled Civic Center in Tulsa and will feature Mr. O’Reilly, bestselling author, columnist and host of Fox Network’s top-rated “The O’Reilly Factor.”  O'Reilly probably is the most controversial, most frequently discussed TV analyst today.  In addition to his cable show, Bill finds time to turn out a weekly column appearing in more than 300 papers, and to write books.

We are grateful for Mr. O’Reilly’s commitment to help serve The Salvation Army through his presence at this event.  This is a great opportunity to be entertained as well as help the less fortunate in our community.  This exclusive event is open to all members of the William Booth Society and table packages start at $5,000.  No individual tickets are available at this time.  For information or package details call 918-587-7801.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

National Annual Report

Check out this video from National Headquarters!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Thanks to Reasor's

Just a quick note to thank Reasor's stores for their generous donation of 200 Harlem Globetrotter tickets to The Salvation Army's local Boys and Girls clubs in Tulsa and surrounding areas! Community partners like this help us ensure we are Doing the Most Good!

Devastation in Haiti

The Salvation Army is rapidly mobilizing and responding to the devastating magnitude 7.0 earthquake that shook Haiti yesterday. To better understand the tragedy this country is facing, please take a moment to read the letter at the end of this post from Bob Poff, the Salvation Army’s Divisional Director of Disaster Services in Haiti, regarding his account when the earthquake hit. CLICK READ MORE BELOW TO SEE BOB'S LETTER.

With many people missing, injured, or killed, and much of Haiti’s infrastructure damaged, the Salvation Army needs your help to provide much needed aid.
The Salvation Army is accepting monetary donations to assist in the effort via:
Online Credit Card Donations
• 1-800-SAL-ARMY
• postal mail at:
The Salvation Army World Service Office
International Disaster Relief Fund
PO Box 630728
Baltimore, MD 21263-0728
(*designate checks and money orders to ‘Haiti Earthquake’)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Center of Hope needs your help!

The dramatic cold over the last week has caused the number of residents nightly at the Center of Hope to increase rapidly.  Serving three meals a day, 365 days a year, the center is always in need of basic supplies, food donations and cash contributions.  However, the cold weather snap is rapidly decreasing stocks of necessities such as coats, blankets and food stuffs.  Donations can be dropped off anytime at the Center of Hope, 102 N. Denver in Tulsa.  Read about this in the Tulsa World.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Recognizing Bellringers

Obviously, it is hard to be outside during November and December - it's cold! However, each year hundreds of volunteers come forward to help ring bells for The Salvation Army.  In 2009 we had numerous groups and individuals that braved the cold to help and have a chance at winning some great prizes!

Special recognition goes to:

Cub Scouts - Jo  Siegfried (left), Den Leader for Monte Cassino Cub Scouts Pack 344,  Den 5, accepts plaque for First Place for raising the most money at one location during a 8-10 time span. Den 5 raised $1448.92 in front of the Reasor’s at 15th and Lewis.

For more award winners, click "read more" below!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Tulsa People Honors Salvation Army

Spotlighting the year’s top-earning fund-raising events, Tulsa People listed the William Booth Society Benefit Dinner as the number 2 fundraiser in Tulsa!
This year's event will be the 17th annual and the speaker is guaranteed to be impressive. Past speakers include: Bill Clinton, Terry Bradshaw, Dave Barry, George H.W. Bush and Walter Cronkite.

Read the article.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Arctic Blast Heads to Tulsa Area

Bitter cold warnings mean prepare
Subzero wind chill temperatures are expected soon

From the Tulsa World:
Both Oklahoma Natural Gas and American Electric Power-Public Service Company of Oklahoma coordinate assistance programs with The Salvation Army.

ONG's Share the Warmth and AEP-PSO's Light A Life programs allow customers to pay more on their monthly bills, and the extra is donated to the assistance program.
The Salvation Army then distributes the funds to people who apply for utility assistance.