Monday, April 30, 2012

Thank God for nerds!

Anthony Baucum is a remarkable young man. I first read about him in a story in the Tulsa World  in which he said he would give part of the proceeds from his t-shirt company’s launch party to The Salvation Army. About an hour after I read the story, he called to tell me in person and to ask that a Salvation Army representative be on KOKI-Fox 23 with him to promote the party. I could hardly wait to meet him because he named his company “I’m a nerd” and indeed he was. That is, if working hard, being generous and constantly learning and creating is nerdish, Anthony has it down. At 20, he works full time job, goes to college full time and puts any time left over into his company.  I don’t think he needs much sleep. The TV appearance was successful and Anthony ended up donating his entire net income from the launch party to The Salvation Army.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Shout Outs

Many, many thanks to KRMG AM-740 and FM-102.3 for raising money for the people of Woodward who were affected by the recent tornado. Program director Drew Anderssen called the day before KRMG was set to host an event that filled the Mabee Center at ORU. “What do you need in Woodward?” he asked. Drew and other KRMG staffers collected enough flashlights, batteries and leather gloves to fill an entire mini van. Captain Jay Spalding, officer at the Citadel, our midtown church, got the equipment to Woodward the next day.  Job well done.

And much appreciation goes to the staff of the BOK Center who held “Clean Sweep Spring Cleaning” garage sale that collected lots of stuff, mostly clothing, to donate to The Salvation Army ARC Family Stores. Everyone who knows what ARC stands for raise your hand. Right. It’s the Adult Rehabilitation Center where adult men go to overcome substance abuse problems. The men serve as employees of the stores to help get them back into the work force. The stores are self supporting because of the “stuff” donated from people like the BOK Center folks. Our volunteer coordinator Jenny McElyea sends out special thanks to Lindsey Baker and Adam Berlin who organized the event. I love it that people are so generous with their time and energy when it comes to supporting The Salvation Army. Thanks for thinking of us!


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Volunteer breakfast tomorrow and Friday!

I’ll never forget the first time I met Sharon Mitchell. She was one of 23 people that Jo Bright suggested be interviewed for “Mabee Babies,” the video about the North Mabee Boys and Girls Club. Sharon is a loyal, long-time North Mabee volunteer and she had plenty of stories to share with the filmmakers.  At the end of the interview, the producer surprised her by asking her to sing “This Little Light of Mine.” She was reluctant at first, but ending up singing such a soulful interpretation of the old favorite that everyone had tears in their eyes by the time she finished.  When Sharon does something, she does it well. That plus her long hours of creatively teaching club kids are probably what won her the North Mabee Volunteer of the Year Award.  “I told God that if I retire and I’m not broke I’m going to do something for the kids,” she said today at the Volunteer Appreciation  Breakfast. It was a beautiful breakfast and you get two more chances to attend.

Enjoy it tomorrow and Friday, from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. at The Salvation Army Area Command on 924 S. Hudson.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Recession a silver lining for one club

I always enjoy going to the Sand Springs Boys and Girls Club because I never know what to expect. I may go there to photograph a Youth of the Year contender and I find kids doing something new and different in the gym. I’m one of those rare souls who likes to be surprised. But I wasn’t surprised when Greg Parker, director of the Sand Springs Club told me that the dark cloud of the recession has had a silver lining for the club. “It’s given us a compelling reason to raise money and we are better off financially than ever,” Greg said.  He spends half his time at the club and half his time out in the community building partnerships. That has resulted in at least two new successful programs – starting Boys and Girls Clubs in two elementary schools and reviving a fundraiser, Army of Stars. When I attended Army of Stars two years ago, I sat with guests from the community whose enthusiasm for the club was contagious. Photo below: Sandite Scott Thompson, KOTV-Channel 6 anchor, spoke at Army of Stars.
“The economy has helped us a little in opening doors,” Greg
said. The recession in Sand Springs is not over and statistically it shows in the number of parents who apply for scholarships for their kids to become members. Greg said the percentage of scholarships has gone up 10-15% since 2009.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Coach Sam Berry will be missed by many

On the surface, Coach Sam Berry and I could not have been more different. Without The Salvation Army and the Boys & Girls Clubs it’s doubtful that our lives would have ever intersected. In addition to obvious differences, after his family, Sam’s life revolved around athletics, especially football, North Tulsa neighborhoods and gospel music. Football and gospel music had never even been on my radar. Sam loved the Mabee Red Shield Club and he was a tireless advocate for getting more media coverage for the club’s athletic program that he directed. So, despite our superficial differences, we became friends through the common goal of getting media coverage for the club.

Under pressure from Sam, I did things I had never done before. He constantly encouraged me to attend football games at the club. He kept me up to speed on news in the North Tulsa neighborhood where the club is located, especially news that affected the club kids. Sam expanded my world and increased my confidence in reporting and photographing subjects that were as unfamiliar to me as a foreign country. I was honored when Sam and Jerome Smith asked me to a Juneteenth Celebration awards ceremony where Tulsa music icon Leon Rollerson honored the two men. Leon said Sam was one of the few gospel singers left in Tulsa who was passing the music tradition to the next generation. In the above photo of Sam's gospel group, "Proverbs," Sam is on the right. Also above, he appeared on the Cox channel's "Sports Night."

The two things I loved most about Sam are his compassion and his voice. In 2009, Sam persuaded TU into giving the Red Shield kids a rare treat: they got to be on the football field when the Hurricane did their run on. Sam talked me into photographing it, although it was pouring rain. To shoot the kids’ reactions, I stood in the middle of the roped area where the players come out (photo above).  Over the rain  and the yelling fans, I heard my name and recognized Sam’s deep bass voice.  “Go Sallie go,” he said several times, and then the Red Shield kids joined him in the chant. “GO Sallie GO!” became louder and louder and must have mystified the onlookers. I loved it and I owe the wonderful memory to Sam. Just last year, along with many others, I got to enjoy hearing Sam’s impressive voice when he sang gospel music at Mabee Red Shield’s Fun Day.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Growing up in a downturn

Almost weekly, I receive an e-mail from The National Salvation Army Communications Bureau.  And, I confess, I usually give it a cursory glance and delete it. Not because I don’t care, but because it doesn’t usually apply to Tulsa.The Army has an expression that I like, “Bless and release,”and that’s what I do.  But recently, I received “Growing Up in a Downturn,” a report on how the Army’s program for youths has been affected by the recession. It was chock full of interesting data and I wondered how Tulsa is bearing up during the economic downtown compared to the rest of the country. 

Monday, April 2, 2012

Sand Springs Thanks Coaches

Each year in Sand Springs, we take time out to celebrate the success and volunteerism of our basketball coaches. This year, we awarded many Coach of the Year trophies as well as gave an "Athletic Service Awards" for many of our coaches that serve more than one team. This past year, we had 326 kids in our winter basketball program comprised of 43 full teams! It was a huge success for our coaches and our programs overall. In the 2011-2012 season, our coaches combined gave service of over 5,000 volunteer hours!! We would be unable to do the things we do in Sand Springs without our basketball coaches and many other volunteers that help us throughout the year!

Sand Springs Unit Director