Friday, March 30, 2012

How do you celebrate Easter?

Once, I did not give Jesus or Easter a second thought. As a child, Jesus was just a picture on the wall.  It was a commercial holiday, and was celebrated with egg hunts and bunny shaped candy. As an adult, Easter is my favorite holiday.  I never want to miss a chance to celebrate, and Easter is the ultimate celebration! I might even be more thankful at Easter than at Christmas, despite how much I love presents. Because at Easter, it’s about what Jesus gave. About this gift Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

When I was a child I would go to the park and join a city-wide Easter egg hunt. Click here to see Tulsa egg hunt locations. Once I even had a turtle in the turtle races. My turtle did not win. A few years after becoming a Christian I still didn’t grasp the importance of Easter, but I looked forward to having a reason to buy a pretty new dress.  First Corinthians 13:11 says “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”

Growing up, my grandmother always wished us a “Happy Resurrection Sunday,” and I thought it odd that she didn't say Happy Easter. Then one year after I had grown up and was in college, I finally understood why grandma said "Happy Resurrection Sunday." Easter is a holiday about worshipping the Lord, celebrating his resurrection, thinking about his goodness and mercy. Consider the following verses with me:   

Phillipians 2:5-11 "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but     made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and  given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Trash to cash

At last - a really, really easy way to recycle, topped with a gift for The Salvation Army. I want to be an conscientious recycler but I live in a condominium where the city doesn’t pick up my recycling. I sometimes just throw it in the back of the car and take it to a Metropolitan Environmental Trust (MET) Recycling Center. But there some things that the MET doesn’t recycle – plastic bottles with a 3, 4 or 5 on the bottom; styrofoam.  I was excited to learn about the "Feed Mr. Murph" bins where you can take almost anything to be recycled and you don’t even need to sort it. I learned about feeding Mr. Murph when American Waste Control, the company that started the program, called to say they had a check to donate to The Salvation Army.

Monday, March 26, 2012

North Mabee kids tour KJRH

Have you ever paid a lot for something at an auction just so you can give it away? No, I haven’t either!  But Stephanie Howerton, former president of the Women's Auxiliary, did just that at the Women’s Auxiliary’s Annual Christmas Luncheon and Fashion Show in December. She was sitting with Jo Bright, director of The Salvation Army North Mabee Boys and  Girls Club. The item opened for bidding was a tour of KJRH-Channel 2 . Stephanie asked Jo if her club kids would enjoy it, and when Jo said yes, Stephanie started bidding. So did someone else, someone who quickly drove the price up to $600 then suddenly dropped out. Stephanie bought the tour and the kids from North Mabee recently got to enjoy it. Jo selected kids who are enrolled in the club's ACT Preparatory Program and treated them to pizza after the tour.

Countdown to Booth Dinner

The excitement is building as more publications get the word out about The Salvation Army William Booth Society Annual Dinner April 12. The dinner will be held at the Tulsa Convention Center at 7 p.m. and Bryant Gumbel is the speaker. Here's a link to an article which ran in the Tulsa World Sunday. CLICK HERE. Articles have also run in Tulsa Lifestyle and Southern Spirit, The Salvation Army newsletter for the Southern Territory.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Hurdles, heroes and our new building


It’s a tale full of trials and triumphs, difficult hurdles and unlikely heroes.  In short, it’s a tale about transformation; of how a deserted, mice-ridden warehouse was transformed into the beautiful new office and warehouse that The Salvation Army Tulsa Area Command now calls home. The first hurdle: Every Christmas season, we had to beg, borrow or rent a warehouse to accommodate toy and food distribution. Every year it became more difficult to find a suitable space and in 2009 it cost $42,000. The second hurdle: The Advisory Board, which must approve every major decision of the Tulsa Area Command, did not want to acquire any new property. The third hurdle: Almost every property the right size and price was in such bad condition, they were downright scary. The fourth hurdle: During the recession, real estate, especially corporate real estate, was selling very slowly or not at all.


Major Roy and Kathy Williams 
Major Williams, whom I think never lets any hurdles get in the way of saving money for The Salvation Army,  went to David Johnson, then chairman of the Advisory Board, to get his support for buying a building that could be used as a warehouse and office. David convinced the Advisory Board to support the idea.

David Johnson at the
canteen staffed by Southern Baptists'
Disaster Team at the Open House.
Advisory Board member and real estate expert Mitch Adwon found the building and sought support from Kelli Bailey, a construction expert, and Rick Neal, a community volunteer. Together, they masterminded the plan to sell the office building at 1616 S. Main and buy and renovate the building at 924 S. Hudson. Dennis Henderson, operations manager for The Salvation Army, kept the project moving forward. But even when things went well, there were challenges. The building at S.Main sold so quickly that it created a year-long gap between the moving date from the old building to the move-in date for the new building.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Youth banquet rocks!

The Youth of the Year Banquet held last Thursday evening had a great turnout at the University of Tulsa activities center. The three youths selected as candidates for the State Youth of the Year competition gave their speeches with grace and character. Alex Walker won the competition and a $4,500 college scholarship.Tifani Bruton was named Volunteer of the Year.   Many thanks to Aaron Massey for doing a great job as MC and to the sponsors: Solarc, Cyclonic Valve Co., Inc.; The Barnett Family Foundation, Kirk of the Hills, Aaron and Erica Massey, Cox Communications, JC Penney and Taco Bell. Boys and Girls Club honorees not pictured are India Noriah from Mabee Red Shield, Carlee Baker of Sapulpa and Thaiza Ellis Vorabouth from Muskogee.

Alex Walker, 2011 State Youth of the Year,
won the 2012 Youth of the Year.
He is from the Broken Arrow Club. 
William Roussell, honoree from the
West Mabee Club, poses with his family.

Zach Hill (holding plaque) was named Youth of the Year from the Sand Springs Club.
Coach Darryl Bright and North Mabee
Club Director Jo Bright enjoy the dinner.
Tyrese Johnson, North Mabee
Youth of the Year.

Friday, March 16, 2012

A critics review...

You know it's a party when Major
Williams sneaks in a photo-bomb!
I know this review is a bit late but last Saturday night I was at the most happenin' place in Sand Springs, The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club for their Army of Stars celebration. This was the 3rd year for the event which has raised nearly $40,000 since its inception. This was the first year I have attended and WOW! I was impressed!

The food was outstanding. I don't eat steak very often so when I do, it is a treat! The kids from the Club were responsible for seating guests and providing refills for our water and tea, it was very nice to see them getting involved in volunteering and fundraising for their Club.

Sand Springs Youth of the
Year, Zack Hill
The Sand Spring Youth of the Year, Zack Hill, gave an amazing speech that left us all in awe of the amazing work being done for youth at the Club everyday. Another treat was Club member Kelsie Hammons who provided dinner entertainment by singing for us, she had the voice of an angel.

I'm so glad I went to this great event, I got a great silent auction item and enjoyed getting to know the staff at Sand Springs so much better, they were a joy to spend the evening with. I can't wait to go next year. Congratulations to Club Director Greg Parker, his Advisory Council and all the staff and volunteers at the Club!


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Meet Youth of the Year Candidate Alex Walker

How many kids know what they want to be when they grow up when they're six, and more importantly, stick with it until they’re 18? There’s only one I know: Alex Walker, the Broken Arrow Youth of the Year candidate. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because Alex went all the way to the regional Youth of the Year competition last year as the Oklahoma candidate. But he was only a junior then, so he gets to compete again. He's now a senior at BA High School. I was amazed at the project that helped Alex shoot to the top of the charts last year: he collected 100,00 items in 100 days for  Broken Arrow Neighbors, an agency which helps people in need in BA.

The project earned Alex his Eagle in Scout Troop 995 which meets at the BA club. Alex says the club is his life. “I’m out there any time they’ll have me,” he said. And every time I’ve been at the club, I’ve found it to be true. When I see Alex he’s usually shooting hoops with younger kids, some of them in BA’s Challenger program. Janis Fraley, BA director, said Alex has been busy the last few months selling Lucky Ducks, earning the club about $1,250 one dollar at a time. I thought maybe  Alex would want to go into sales, but he says his dream since he was six is to be a pharmacist. He’s planning to study pharmacy at  Southwestern Oklahoma University in Weatherford next fall. No doubt there are a lot of lucky ducks at the club who will miss him dearly.


Monday, March 12, 2012

Meet Tyrese Johnson, Youth of the Year Candidate

Tyrese Johnson couldn’t have been more surprised than when North Mabee Boys & Girls Club leaders Jo Bright and LaTrice Fowlkes  told him he was selected to represent the club in the Youth of the Year competition.  “My mom thought I was lying,” Tyrese said. “We just didn’t know anything about it.” Tyrese is a 15-year-old sophomore at Edison High School where he plays on the football team. When I met Tyrese, I thought of the phrase “gentle giant.” He said he’s serious in school when he needs to be, but can also make his classmates laugh. Tyrese  coaches the boys basketball team at the club where he has been a member since age five. 
This is what really impressed me: For years during North Mabee’s football season, Tyrese has been on the field at 6 a.m. on Saturdays to help set up for games. I’m not a morning person, so I’m in awe of him for voluntarily getting up at 6 a.m. on a Saturday. Tyrese wants to be an NFL football player or an NBA basketball player. If that doesn’t happen, he wants to go into sports medicine. I like a young man with a back up plan. For college, he hopes to be drafted to play sports for Baylor, OSU, or the University of Kansas. Tyrese’s mother is Roshawn Daley. I’m looking forward to meeting her now that I’ve met her remarkable son.


Visit our new home

I’m so excited to share this happy news! We have moved and it is your turn to see our great new facilities. Technically, they are ours but they also really belong to the Tulsa community, which is why you are invited to join us as we unveil our new space.  Come for the dedication and lift up a prayer for the long term success of this facility or come by for an open house and tour our offices and warehouses designed for toys, food and disaster materials!
When:  Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Where: Tulsa Area Command
            924 S. Hudson Ave.
            Tulsa, OK 74112
Time:  12:45 p.m. - Dedication of Facilities
            1:00 p.m.- 4:30 p.m. - Open House
Tulsa Area Command was previously located downtown at 16th & Main and occupied an 11,000 sq. ft. office building.  Each Christmas season, we spent $42,000 renting warehouse space and securing donated space of at least 50,000 sq. ft. to house our extensive Christmas programs. Our new 88,000 sq. ft. complex was purchased for $1.1 million as we sold our building at 16th & Main for $975,000; an advantageous swap considering the addition of 77,000 sq. ft.  Our new facility provides an annual savings from our budget previously used for warehouse rental while providing a permanent place for our community to visit for Christmas and disaster assistance. The office renovation project was funded through Board Restricted Capital Building Trusts held from planned giving bequests.  * All monies raised in Tulsa stay in Tulsa for our programs and services.


Friday, March 9, 2012

BA BBQ bouncing

The BA Bouncing Bar-B-Que last week was well attended.
Contenders for Miss and Mrs.Oklahoma International signed  autographs.

Meet Zach Hill - Youth of the Year Candidate

Zach Hill has a firm handshake, excellent eye contact and a demeanor of self assurance. I had the pleasure of meeting Zach this week to interview him as one of three candidates for the Boys & Girls Club Youth of the Year award. It will be presented Thurs., March 15 at The University of Tulsa. Zach is representing the Sand Springs Boys & Girls Club and his parents are Shelly Hill of Sapulpa and David Robinson of Tulsa. He is a senior at Sapulpa High School. He has been a Club member since he was 15 and coaches the Club’s “Minotaurs,” a boys 12-and-under basketball team at the Club.  

Zach says he wants to go into sports management. Next year, he plans to take classes at Tulsa Community College such as Humanities with the hope of transferring to OSU and majoring in Sports Management. Zach said Club’s leaders, director Greg Parker and athletic director Patrick Carey, have taught him good people management skills. 
“They have impacted me in a significant way. I’ve learned so much by just seeing the way they conduct themselves” Zach said. 
And just meeting Zach at the Sand Springs Club this week, I have to say that if all the candidates are as enthusiastic as he is, I think the judges are going to have a hard time making a decision. I'm glad I'm not on that judges' panel!


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Lifting others

Alison Anthony
One of the great joys of working for The Salvation Army (TSA) is that wherever I go always meet someone who has volunteered for TSA. Last week I attended a workshop sponsored by the Association for Women in Communications, titled “Tulsa Women: Telling Our Story.” One of the panelists was Alison Anthony, director of diversity and community relations at The Williams Companies. She also chairs the Tulsa Area United Way's Women’s Leadership Council. And, most importantly, she volunteers with us during Christmas distribution. “Sometimes I have to wear my sunglasses inside,” she confessed. I told her that more than one volunteer has
been emotionally moved by the families who receive Christmas assistance.

Clydella Hentschel
In her presentation, Alison mentioned a new United Way award  founded in honor of Clydella Hentschel, a long-time donor and member of our advisory board. Clydella started contributing to our Christmas program three decades ago and has since supported practically every program we have. When I met Clydella for the first time, I had only been at The Salvation Army for a few weeks. She was rushing out of a meeting at our office, stopped when she saw my nametag, introduced herself and welcomed me. I appreciated her graciousness. Clydella is the first recipient of the award named in her honor. The award has the tagline “Lifting Others as You Climb.” With our wonderful volunteers and donors, we could give that award every day!


Monday, March 5, 2012

AARP & The Salvation Army: good partners

Linda Letzkus,
Area Command receptionist
Choosing between a job at a clock shop and a job at The Salvation Army was a no brainer for Linda Letzkus. “How busy could a clock shop be?” she asked Sherri Clark, director of the AARP Work Search Foundation. The foundation helps people over 55 find employment by partnering with organizations which are senior-friendly. “Before I joined Work Search, I was sending out resumes like a wild woman, 10 to 15 a week, and I got lots of interviews,” Linda said. “Then I’d walk in an office and I could tell by the look on their faces that they thought I was too old.” 

I know how she felt. Before I got my job here I held a job that didn't fit quite right and was looking for something new. My younger sister theorized that my gray hair was holding me back. “It just announces that you’re on the downhill slope to retirement,” she said. I bet her that I’d find a good job in a year and if I didn’t, I promised her I’d go back to being a brunette. Luckily, I found my dream job with the Army with no help from Lady Clairol. 
“With Work Search, when you walk in a host agency you know you’ll be accepted,” Linda said. 
 She started here with Work Search in March 2011 and has been employed by TSA as our receptionist since July 2011. The Salvation Army has given four Work Search participants permanent positions in the last six months, making it the leader among host agencies. Linda said she likes the atmosphere at Area Command. “People are considerate and there’s no office drama.” And no ticking clocks!


Friday, March 2, 2012

Baseball and faith

The original Mabee Red Shield Cowboys t-ball team in 2009.
Faith is so much a part of The Salvation Army that I tend to take it for granted. I’m not defining faith as going to church on Sundays, I’m talking about faith that God will provide what is needed. The tradition in The Salvation Army is to plan first and pray that the resources will come. If that doesn’t illustrate the expression “stepping out in faith” I don’t know what does. Here’s an example: the coach-pitch baseball program at the Mabee Red Shield Boys and Girls Club on north Harvard. You haven’t heard of it? Here’s why: Its very first season is about to start.Three years ago, Athletic Director Sam Berry started a popular t-ball program for kids beginning at age four. Now the oldest of those kids need a coach-pitch program and Sam is starting it too. One of the challenges of filling an athletic program at the Boys and Girls Clubs is that often parents can get the same sport in a free program at public schools.  At the Boys and Girls Clubs kids get good role modeling, character building and important lessons in sportsmanship. I know of at least one example when Coach Sam helped turn a kid's life around, and I'm sure every Boys and Girls Club coach has a similar story.Will parents pay for their kids to play coach-pitch baseball? We don’t know, but for the sake of the kids and the club I hope they do. I admire the courage of people who step out in faith. Here’s the number to call for coach pitch or T-ball: 918-834-2464. And tell Coach Sam I sent you!