Monday, April 29, 2013


Ms. Annabelle Willis

Salvation Army Citadel Corps loves senior citizens!

Shouts of glee, moans of defeat, fierce competition and the sheer joy of winning; what do these all have in common? I found them all at The Salvation Army Citadel Corps, our Midtown church, last week. The last Wednesday of every month, senior citizens gather at the Citadel to play Bingo and socialize. I don’t know about you, but when I think about senior citizens playing bingo, I think about people who are half asleep and who are more interested in drinking coffee than playing the game. Well… I was wrong.

These were 24 of the rowdiest senior citizens I have ever met!
These are just a few of the Bingo prizes.

I was able to share a table with Ms. Annie and Ms. Jean who both have been coming to the senior program almost every Wednesday for five years. Ms. Annie is a sweet, tiny lady who is very soft spoken and Ms. Jean is a spitfire who loves winning.This monthly bingo game is part of the Citadel’s senior program, led by Captains Jay and Jamie Spalding. I was able to chat with Captain Jamie about the program and she told me that program participants are game for anything. Sometimes programs are health related, such as blood pressure and diabetes screening clinics, and sometimes activities are just for fun, such as watching movies together. One of the purposes of the program is to serve as a way to help keep senior citizens engaged in their community and to have interaction with others.

According to Wikipedia, the term “citadel” means a fortress or a safe place. And that is how our Citadel serves the seniors, in addition to having fun, it’s a place they can go to and know they are cared for and are safe.

PS-Captain Jamie said the Citadel could always use more volunteers to help with the Seniors Program. If you have any special skills or knowledge you would like to share with this group, please call me at 918-587-7801 to volunteer.

If you know a senior citizen who would benefit from attending The Citadel Seniors, they meet every Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Lunch is served for $1. The Citadel is located at 3901 East 28th St., just north of Eisenhower Elementary School.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Salvation Army Volunteers ARE the Army!

 Sapulpa gave their volunteers a party.

Thank you, thank you and thank you! As we wrap up
Volunteer Appreciation Week those are the only words I can think of to tell you.

Did you know The Salvation Army was started by volunteers in 1865 and the original name of the organization was going to be the Volunteer Army?

Sapulpa volunteers line up at the buffet.
From members of the church group who get up early every Sunday morning to serve our guests at the Center of Hope what is affectionately known as "the good breakfast" to our football coaches at the North Mabee Boys & Girls Club who have been known to purchase cleats for the kids from their own money, we couldn’t do it without you!
"I can no other answer make, but, thanks, and thanks." William Shakespeare
If you are interested in becoming one of these amazing volunteers or for a complete list of volunteer opportunities contact Jenny McElyea, Volunteer Coordinator or visit

Monday, April 22, 2013

Happy Volunteer Appreciation Week!

To our thousands of volunteers we say, happy Volunteer Appreciation Week and thank you for all you do! The Salvation Army relies on volunteers to help us spread our mission of “Doing the Most Good.”  During 2011-2012 this is what our volunteers provided:

5,517 volunteers served 10, 310 hours at the Center of Hope.
5,301 volunteers served 61,913 hours at the  Boys & Girls Clubs.   
2,662 volunteers served 11,229 hours in the Tulsa Area Command office and warehouses. That's a total of 13,480 volunteers who served 83,452 total hours!

The average value of a volunteer hour in Oklahoma is $18.28. If you do the math, that comes out to our volunteers providing a $1,525,502.56 donation worth of service in just one year! WOW!

I love seeing the impact our volunteers have on the community. Think about it, these are individuals who simply feel compelled to help others, whether it is by serving meals at our Center of Hope or coaching a basketball team at one our six Boys & Girls Clubs. None of these volunteers set out to donate more than a million dollars to The Salvation Army, but because each one followed their heart together they did!
“Everyone can be great, because everyone can serve” –Martin Luther King, Jr.

Check out the blog and our Facebook page each day this week for more ways to celebrate or volunteers!

- Jenny McElyea

Friday, April 19, 2013

Million-dollar fundraiser a kids’ affair

Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club members played the key role in William Booth Society Dinner
The Boys & Girls Club Chorus
I almost felt as if I were in a Boys & Girls Club. I saw some of my usual club buddies but instead of hearing shouts of "Take my picture Miss Sallie!" when I saw them, they stood quietly wearing their party manners, coats, ties, and dresses. I can't take one iota of credit for that, but it still made me proud. The 20th Annual William Booth Society Dinner, The Tulsa Area Command’s major fundraiser, featured Boys & Girls Club members from all six metro Tulsa clubs.

Mason Pritzlaff, BA Club
The first clue to the kid-themed evening was a beautiful display of Boys & Girls Club art and photography which guests viewed as they walked to the lobby of the Tulsa Convention Center. Members from the clubs greeted guests and answered questions about their artwork, but that was only the start. At 7 p.m. when the doors opened to the ballroom for dinner, guests walked through a gauntlet formed by the winners of the Youth of the Year contest. I walked through the gauntlet several times because it was just so much fun. When guests found their tables, the first thing they noticed was the unique centerpieces, designed by Mason Pritzlaff, a nine-year-old member of the Broken Arrow Boys & Girls Club.

When event co-chair Charlotte Edmundson was researching options for the event last summer, she toured all six of the clubs and landed on the idea of a kid-centered event. At the start of the dinner, a Boys & Girls Club Chorus sang “God Bless America” and “The National Anthem” before Boy Scout Troop 995 from the Broken Arrow Boys & Girls Club led the Color Guard.

Nakylyn Walters, W. Mabee
West Mabee club member Nakylan Walters gave the welcome speech because Charlotte had met him when he took the stage at a club dinner she attended. “After all the adults and youths spoke and we were getting ready to leave, Nakylan unexpectedly asked to speak and took the stage to say what the club meant to him. He was the youngest one to speak at that dinner, and  I knew then that he was the one to give the welcome because I wanted to give him the biggest stage we had,” Charlotte said.

Youth of the Year Tulsa Anthony Wilson from the West Mabee Boys & Girls Club gave a speech in front of the crowd of almost 800 guests and guest speaker Bob Costas. How’s that for pressure on a 17-year-old? Anthony's come a long way since I first interviewed him and he seemed incredibly shy.
Anthony Wilson

But he was almost as poised as State Senator Jabar Shumate, who grew up in the North Mabee Boys & Girls Club and preceded Anthony with his testimonial. The fundraiser grossed $1,075,849. Much of the funding will go to help members of the Boys & Girls Club in addition to others who need it most. For a wonderful slide show of the event created by Tulsa World photographer Cory Young, click here. And don't miss the photo of Nakylan dressed up in his coat and tie! -Sallie

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Rocky reminisces about Daddy's Invitational Tournament

Robert Meachem, Rocky, Dominique Franks
and Rocky's son "Little Rock" front and center!
The Salvation Army North Mabee Boys & Girls Clubs hosts 20th DIT Friday night!

I always enjoy talking to Rocky Bright, a Mabee Baby and a North Mabee volunteer coach who founded the Daddy’s Invitational Tournament that will be held Friday evening. It’s the DIT’s 20th anniversary, so I thought I’d get the story of how the tournament started from Rocky himself.

“When I was a freshman at Booker T., I used to think ‘when I grow up and become a success, I’m going to give money to the club.’ Then I started wondering if I could actually raise money to help the club before I grew up.

“Along with March Madness, I  always watched the National Invitational Tournament, NIT, so I thought it would be cool to name a tournament the DIT, for the Daddys' Invitational Tournament. The ‘Daddys’ would be the fathers who coached their kids’ teams but who never got to play. They would play against each other, and the kids would get to call and referee the game and sell concessions.

“We saved money at the very first DIT by having baby blue and off, off yellow for the jerseys, even though the North Mabee colors are red and black. Mrs. Bright went to the Army Surplus store and bought them for 99 cents a shirt. Now they’re collectors’ items. Robbie Meachem’s Daddy has all 19 shirts.

“The first few years we used the money we made at DIT to fund sports equipment and uniforms. We still do that, but this year we’re also going to help support the Felix Jones II ACT Prep Program, which Mrs. Bright started.

“Last year Robbie (Meachem) showed up and brought Dominique Franks who had played for Union and now plays for the Atlanta Falcons. Every year I call these guys and ask them if they’re coming and they never know because their schedules are crazy, so I just never know who is going to show up. Felix (Jones) is going to try and come this year too,” Rocky said.

Rocky is seeking sponsors for the event. For more information call 918-0425-7534 or visit the club at 3001 N. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. -Sallie

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Save up or spend! Club kids earn rewards in homework program

Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club shares success story

Squeezing in homework between dinner and bath time can be a challenge for many working parents; it is at my house!

But for kids who spend the after-school hours at the Sapulpa Boys & Girls Club, kids can knock out homework and earn rewards during Power Hour!

Power Hour is a national Boys & Girls Club program that encourages focused homework completion time, with tutors and homework helper worksheets on deck. 

Program coordinator, Ron Brown, explains the incentive part of the program: 

"We want kids to prioritize education and strive for good grades, so we make it fun, accessible and rewarding. Kids can earn points on a daily basis and at the end of the week, they can go shopping at the Power Hour Store!"

Items in the Power Hour Store range from small snacks and treats to larger items, such as toys and games, all the way up to bikes and electronics; items "cost" between 3 and 500 points.

A small selection of prizes from the Power Hour Store.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Start planning for summer!

 Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs need Day Camp volunteers

Water gun fights, spending all day at the movies, exploring museums, hanging out with a great group of kids all day while providing fun and entertaining learning experiences...

What do all these things have in common?
Learning to putt
This is the average day of a summer camp volunteer at a Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club!

Exploring exhibits at Philbrook

 Our Day Camps are open from early morning until evening and we always need extra hands to help us ensure the kids are having the best summer ever!

Picking out books

We have Clubs located in Tulsa, Sand Springs, Broken Arrow and Sapulpa and we are open all summer long! Last summer, over 827 children were served EVERY DAY across our 6 Club locations.

If sounds like something you would be interested in or would just like more information call 918-587-7801 or e-mail me at

Friday, April 5, 2013

Yes, people live there....

Toddlers at the Center of Hope
Thousands of people pass by our Center of Hope every day. The downtown facility is well known as an emergency shelter and place to get a hot meal. What most people don’t know is that there are actually families who live at our shelter. This program is called Supportive Housing and according to Supportive Housing Case Manager Kelley Maricle, it helps families who are willing to work toward self-sufficiency through case management, education and life skills training. The Center of Hope has 17 apartments for families in this program.

Center of Hope birthday party
Can you imagine if your life went off track in such a way that you ended up on the streets with your children with nowhere to turn? What if someone offered you a key to an apartment and the tools you needed to get back on your feet at no cost? That is exactly what this program does. The families in the program have to take it seriously and abide by all the rules but if they do, we can offer them a path to a brighter future.

What exactly does the program do? The program gives families—parent(s) with one or more children—a furnished apartment to call “home” while they address the issues that led to them becoming homeless. For some it is debt and poor money management, for others it may be a lack of job skills or training; there are many reasons that families seek out our help. Those in our program can stay in their apartment for up to two years while they attend weekly life skills classes where they learn budgeting, ethics, parenting and job hunting skills and much, much more. They also meet routinely with a skilled social worker to review their progress and ensure they stay on track.
There's a girl behind the flamingo!
This program helps families and residents all work together to make their time in the program enjoyable. Our staff helps them celebrate birthdays and holidays, but during my conversation with Kelley, she told me the families are always interested in doing more.
“They wish they could have cookouts and makeover nights, parent’s nights out and things like that.”   Unfortunately, the program funds don’t stretch that far so we are always looking for volunteers to help our families by offering their time and resources.
This program really does ensure The Salvation Army is Doing the Most Good; participants from our program leave ready to maintain their permanent housing with the skills they have learned during the time spent with us. If you would like to find out how you can volunteer with these families, call Jenny 918-587-7801.


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

And the winner is...

Boys & Girls Clubs announce the Youth of the Year!

Jamar Giddings, Anthony Wilson
You’ve read about the candidates for the Tulsa Youth of the Year; Anthony, Charles and Neariah. So here’s the big news: Anthony won!
First, I want to tell you about his speech. As he had told me earlier, it was from the heart.  I’m willing to bet that it touched the hearts of every person in the room.

After an introduction by Jamar Giddings, West Mabee club director, Anthony told about how at the age of six, Giddings and another club staff member protected him from a grown man who was beating him up in the park next to the club. Giddings got the man off Wilson and called police who arrested him. The man was Wilson’s father.

“With the club, I knew I was safe. I knew there was always somewhere I could go where I would be protected,” Anthony said.

Janis Fraley, BA Club Director
and Neariah Persinger
 The banquet was attended by about 100 people who enjoyed a buffet dinner and speeches from all three candidates. Boys & Girls Club Leadership Council Chair Aaron Massey served as emcee.

When Jamar introduced Anthony before he made his speech, he said Anthony was the only club volunteer who was willing to come to the club on Saturday mornings to prepare for athletic events.
“Anthony was at the club whenever it was open and he would volunteer to do anything – clean up, supervise kids – anything,” Giddings said.
Jerome Smith, Mabee Red Shield Director
and Charles Gordon

The runner up for the Tulsa Metro Youth of the Year was Neariah and the third place winner for the was Charles. Both youths can run for Youth of the Year from their clubs next year also. The next step for Anthony will be to compete in the statewide Boys & Girls Club Youth of the Year contest held in Oklahoma City. If he wins that competition, he’ll compete for the Regional Youth of the Year. We’re cheering for you Anthony!
 – Sallie

Monday, April 1, 2013

Preppin for the ACTs

Do you remember taking your ACT? I do.

Even though it was well over a decade ago, I still remember the pressure to do well. I had prepped my heart out-- taken prep courses, bonded with my Princeton Review ACT prep book and become an expert at complicated analogy questions.

Remember, if WATER: OCEAN then SAND: ?? 

Yeah. Ick.

The ACTs loom again for local high school students and our Salvation Army North Mabee Boys & Girls Club is a beacon for college-bound teens hoping to get a little edge on the test.