Friday, September 20, 2013

West Mabee Mentors Motivate Dozens Towards College

“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”
― William Arthur Ward
Mentors are important in our six Boys & Girls Clubs. They can make a difference in a child’s life. That became evident at West Mabee where recently 24 teens graduated high school and are now  college freshman. 
Giddings with teen mentees

“It’s a sense of accomplishment,” says Club Director Jamar Gibbings, who has been at West Mabee for the past 12 years. “I’ve never seen that many go to college at the same time.”
West Mabee alumni are attending colleges all across the state:
  • 8 = Rogers State University (RSU)
  • 4 = Bacone College
  • 4 = Tulsa Community College (TCC)
  • 3 = Northeastern Oklahoma Junior College (NEO)
  • 3 = University of Central Oklahoma (UCO)
  • 1 = Connors State
  • 1 = University of Oklahoma (OU)
Many kids in the neighborhood surrounding West Mabee are faced with a choice after high school, continue their education and become better citizens or take what they have and try to make it without getting into trouble.  Out of a group of 25 teens who grew up together, 24 of them chose higher education. 

 “We’ve known these kids since they were in first and second grade. All had serious issues at home,” he says. “The staff showed these kids that they can go to school and college and become whatever they want.”
Teens on a college tour @ Langston University
We didn’t have to really push these kids, they were self-motivated. They knew they wanted to go to college and took steps to make it happen.”  

One of freshmen is Anthony Wilson, who is also our Youth of the Year. When Wilson came to West Mabee, he was a victim of abuse and had an older brother in jail. Giddings became his mentor and took him to church and bowling, among other places. Wilson looked at Giddings as a role model, someone he wanted to be like as he got older. 

2013 Youth of the Year: Anthony Wilson
Wilson is a great basketball player and saw that as a way to get into college. Giddings helped Wilson fill out applications, and he is now a freshman at Bacone College on a basketball scholarship. Although getting into college through sports is great, Giddings stressed to Wilson it’s important to get educated.


We appreciate mentors like Giddings and all the volunteers/staff at our Boys & Girls Clubs who are truly making an impact in our community!


North Mabee Boys & Girls Club Celebrates 40 Years

Some call it a “shining star” in North Tulsa, which some consider the most economically deprived area of the city. The North Mabee Boys & Girls Club is celebrating 40 years of changing lives in Tulsa by throwing a party. A big one. The Club is combining Homecoming at North Mabee with its 40th birthday celebration!

North Mabee is a place where kids can feel safe. Staff and volunteers work hard to show these kids how to be good citizens and let them know they have a chance in life. With a dark room, ballet classes and a recording studio, the Club exposes kids to the arts. It’s a place where kids discover they can dream big and those dreams can come true.

Kids in the recording studio
ACT/SAT prep with Ms. Carol

Tiny ballarinas!

North Mabee has an impressive list of alumni, including professional athletes, journalists, musicians, lawmakers and city leaders. 

Club Director Latrice Fowlkes has been with North Mabee for 22 years.
“I’m most proud of our volunteers,” says Fowlkes. “We have volunteers who are long-standing. Some have been here for 30 years. They love the kids. Some started volunteering when their kids were members, but stayed around after the kids left.” 

Something else North Mabee is proud of: its sports programs. During a 12 year period, North Mabee won football championships nine different times. Several professional athletes, including Philadelphia Eagles running back Felix Jones and New Orleans Saints wide receiver Robert Meachum, started playing football at North Mabee. But if you talk to any of the staff and volunteers at North Mabee, they’ll tell you it’s not about the sports, it’s about the kids. 

 The sports may have got the kids to the Club, but then the staff work to teach them about life. Staff will take Club members on college trips so they can tour the campus and get the experience of being on campus. The ACT program prepares Club members for college and helps them prepare for tests.  

“Kids used to come here for sports, but now they’re coming more for academics,” says Fowlkes. “They see how other Club members have become successful, and they want that too.” 

Performances are scheduled for the Homecoming/40th Anniversary Celebration along with face painting, a Jupiter jump and a chili dinner. It costs $4 for chili and a dessert.

Friday, September 20th
6pm - Pep rally followed by dance
Saturday, September 21st:
9am – Football games start
9:30 (halftime of first game) – Might Might Cheerleaders
10am – Lacy Jammers
11am – KIPP Prep School Drumline
12:45pm – Pizzazz Line Dancers

Come celebrate the great achievements of North Mabee!
- Carrie

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Free Wifi For the Homeless!

I’m excited to write this blog because it has been a long time coming.  
It all started last fall, when the Tulsa Area United Way got a large donation of used laptops from local business, Hilti and set up an application process for agencies like ours to get them.  We were lucky enough to get 40 to use at our Center of Hope.  This left us with a bit of a problem though, the laptops needed wi-fi for our clients to check them out and use them but the only wi-fi we had at the facility was in our administrative area and wasn’t set up as a public network.

This spurred us into action and we asked for a grant to cover the cost to do all the “techy” things needed to turn a 70,000 sq/ft. building into  a hot spot for guests.  Thankfully, The Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary provided the funds needed.  As we were ironing out the security features, our guests could see the public network appearing on their devices and they started getting excited! Questions flowed to our staff about what the guest network was and when it would be available.

During the first week we had the wi-fi available (with no promotion/signage at all) we had an average of about 100 guests a night utilizing the network.  This may be very surprising to some, but many of the guests staying at the shelter keep mobile phones for necessary contact with work and family but they cannot afford the data packages required to surf the internet via a mobile device. Our main overnight population is required to stay in the facility after check-in which means that from 6p.m. to 6a.m. they haven’t had access to email, web, news, etc.  Now they can spend that time looking for housing, completing schoolwork, playing games to pass the time and communicating with family and friends. 

We are currently soliciting funding to expand the technology program at the Center by building an on-site computer lab. This lab would be accessible to all clients with designated hours for after-school homework time. Besides general internet access and other basic functions, clients will also have the opportunity to enroll in useful courses, taught by community volunteers and Center of Hope staff.

I hope you can share in my excitement! We are so proud to be the first shelter in Tulsa offering this service.  It improves the quality of life for many and gives them something that we all take for granted! 


Monday, September 9, 2013

Day of Caring Sheds Light On Increased Homeless Family Population

Volunteers from Jim Norton
Toyota paint family rooms.
The first thing I noticed when I walked into the Center of Hope during my Day of Caring site visit was a little baby about the same age as my infant son. He was smiling and giggling while being held by his mother, who had come to the shelter for help. The image stuck with me throughout the weekend. Although I know that the family is now getting the help it needs, I just couldn't forget.

The Center of Hope is seeing more families like this one. According to caseworker Gale Baker, the number of families seeking help at the Center of Hope has tripled in the past seven years. On average, the Center of Hope will house about 20 families a night during the summer. Three years ago, only four to seven families would stay the night at the shelter. The Center of Hope has 11 rooms for these families, which means a room may have more than one family during those crowded nights.

“The face of the homeless isn’t what it was 20 years ago,” says Baker. “These aren’t all drug addicts or alcoholics. Some of these people lost a job or had unexpected medical problems that caused them financial trouble.”   

A pile of toys in the shelter's family
lounge where little ones can play.
Add in the cost of at least one child and it can lead to homelessness.

On Friday September 6, a group of United Way volunteers from Jim Norton Toyota were painting the walls of the family rooms at the Center of Hope as part of the Day of Caring.

“When children come to the shelter, by no fault of their own, we want a place that’s cheerful and not dull,” says Baker. “These volunteers are helping make that happen.”

Caseworkers at the Center of Hope are working hard to help families get back on their feet so they don’t have to stay at the shelter anymore. I’m thankful we provide a place for these families to go, but I’m hoping the numbers will start to decrease.


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

United Way Day of Caring brings help where it's needed most

Each year, The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs and Center of Hope are used by thousands of people. During that course our facilities can become in need of some special TLC. But when you have lots of projects to do, and only a few people available on a regular basis to help, what do you do?

Solution: United Way Day of Caring!

The United Way Day of Caring is a once a year event always in September (and the kick-off will be held at our very own West Mabee Boys & Girls Club on September 6) where,

 “United Way matches volunteers in workplaces to projects at agencies across the community, giving volunteers an opportunity to contribute in a hands on way to make a difference. Employers give their employees the day to work in the community as an expression of their commitment to their employees and to the organizations that support people all across Tulsa. Projects may include interior or exterior painting, yard work, preparing community gardens, building ramps, installing shelving or providing computer training.”
Each year partner agencies like The Salvation Army count on the United Way Day of Caring to help complete tasks that we wouldn’t be able to accomplish on our own. This year the United Way will be helping us with over 30 projects and will provide over 200 volunteers and estimated 1,000 hours of man power. And with the average value of a volunteer hour being $18.28 that provides a value of $18,280 worth of time alone. Not to mention that many companies donate the needed supplies to assist with the projects.

This is why we depend on volunteers and the United Way so much, they truly make the difference! We couldn’t continue doing the most good without them!

To learn more about volunteering with The Salvation Army contact Jenny McElyea, Volunteer and Disaster Resource Manager at 918-587-7801 or to learn more about participating in the United Way Day of Caring contact Maxine Street 918-583-7171.