Friday, May 31, 2013

Comfort comes in many ways

One Salvation Army officer's experience in Moore
On Monday May 20, Salvation Army minister Sergeant Rob Daniels, was serving in Shawnee, Okla. following the tornado that hit that area the day before. His team was offering services to those affected when he heard on the radio that a large tornado was on the ground, headed toward the adjacent city of Moore, Okla. While his team took shelter in the basement of City Hall, stories started flooding in over the radio about the devastation in Moore: The hospital was gone, children were stuck in a school, and hundreds were without homes.

New disaster response orders rolled in from Emergency Disaster Services Director Steven Hartsook,  “As soon as it is safe, we need you in Moore.” Within the hour Sgt. Daniels and his team were racing to the hardest hit areas. As they approached the city via I-35, Sgt. Daniels was struck by the amount of dirt and debris--at least three inches thick--covering the highway. Seeing the remnants of what had been the Warren Theatre brought back memories of his previous disaster service after the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City.  “Everywhere I looked that day,” he said, “there were injured people seeking medical attention, begging for someone to help them. Medical personnel were scrambling to help as many people as possible.”

When he reached the emergency response command post at Plaza Towers Elementary, he saw many who were not hurting physically, but emotionally. Parents were pacing or lying on the ground, lost in a fog of emotions--wondering where their little ones were. “My mind raced back to the evening in 1995 when a firefighter, with tears in his eyes, told me they had finally reached the daycare,” he recalled. “I wondered if this night would end in the same way, with a brave firefighter crying on my shoulder for the children that were lost.”

Eventually Sgt. Daniels found himself among the first responders who had recovered the children lost from the rubble. They didn’t want a lot of people in the area; these brave men and women needed to process what had happened, but they also asked that one person stay with them. Sgt. Daniels stayed, offering to listen if they needed to talk. He was there with them until the medical examiner and mortician arrived. “My heart broke,” he said, “as I saw these men and women who have committed their lives to saving others watch the vans leave with those that they could not save.”

Sgt. Daniels has stayed in Moore since the tornado. He continues to care for those who are struggling, hurt, and emotionally drained from losses of homes, transportation, loved ones, and security.

Salvation Army officers are trained in emotional and spiritual care.  They  may not be able to heal a broken bone, but they step in when they can to help heal a broken heart; they do it with hot meals, cold water, a hug, and a prayer because they know that these small actions can be more powerful than they seem.

 Serving in Moore over the last week, Sgt. Daniels has traveled through the same neighborhoods over and over. The daily improvements aren’t drastic; they are slow and steady. The roads clear one day, as a few destroyed cars have been hauled off. The most common sight is homeowners sorting and cleaning, throwing out the obvious trash and keeping the items that might be salvageable--or are just too precious to let go. Salvation Army mobile kitchen units, like what Sgt. Daniels uses, drive up and down the streets, offering support—food, comfort, prayer, whatever is needed.

 Sometimes the impact of The Salvation Army isn’t seen but felt. One woman in her early 50s sat on her porch every day waiting for Sgt. Daniels and his canteen. Day after day she would only take a bottle of water or Gatorade and a bit of food . And she was always alone. Her home was standing, but there was damage all around her and large holes in her roof. When Sgt. Daniels asked if she needed anything--gloves, masks, or sunscreen--she said she was fine, but wanted to thank him for coming by to check on her. “She told me that as much as she appreciated the cold drinks and food,” he said, “we gave her something much more important; comfort and stability.”

"’I know that you will come by here at least twice every day, and whenever you come by, you will ask me how I am doing and how you can help,’ she told me. ‘While the rest of my world is turned upside down, I know The Salvation Army will always be right on time when I need you most.”

At the end of their daily conversation Sgt. Daniels prays with her, hugs her neck, and continues making  his way through the ruined neighborhood. - Lindsay

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Salvation Army Auxiliaries have busy month

Jake Law, Maj. April Taylor, Janet & Dave Rader, Maj.Jim Taylor
As we've received news today of yet another round of severe weather, I've felt a need to post something on the blog that's not related to the weather disasters. We'll keep you updated when there is news, but for now, let's take a break.

Dave Rader
The Women’s Auxiliary of The Salvation Army Tulsa Area Command and the Sapulpa Auxiliary recently held two events which went off without a hitch. I’m proud to say I had a small part in the Sapulpa event, the first event they’ve had in at least four years. It was their Spring Charity Auction & Dinner, which raised $17,000 for The Salvation Army Sapulpa Boys & Girls Club. Dave Rader, retired football coach from the University of Tulsa, was the keynote speaker. The event packed Freddie’s Steakhouse, in fact it was so packed I didn’t even get to attend, but thankfully, someone took these photos.

Majors Wendy Morris and April Taylor
The other event was the annual installation of the Tulsa Area Command Women’s Auxiliary 2013-2014 officers. In my four years as PR director, I’ve never attended such a fun luncheon for the annual installation. “Sassy Safari” was the theme and Major Wendy Morris, Coordinator of Women’s Ministries for the Arkansas-Oklahoma Division was the featured speaker. Major April Taylor and her assistant Tracy Hamilton had prepared framed prints of jungle animals for each auxiliary officer. Personally, I liked the otter the best: smart, persistent and waterproof – all good traits for an Auxiliary officer to have, especially considering that they are loyal volunteers, no matter what the weather! -Sallie

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The latest news from Moore

Preparing meals in the canteen
Salvation Army Monitoring Oklahoma Severe Weather Forecasts, Planning for Public and Personnel Safety in Ongoing Emergency Disaster Services 

The Salvation Army’s tornado recovery effort continues in Oklahoma. With severe weather forecast for a widespread area around Oklahoma City this afternoon and evening, the Emergency Disaster Services team is closely monitoring weather conditions and making plans for today’s feeding, distribution, and emotional and spiritual care operations.

Safety is our top priority for all EDS personnel as well as the Oklahomans we serve.
We are enacting safety guidelines for all ongoing Salvation Army tornado response operations, which include instructions for all EDS staff to monitor weather radio for updates on ongoing weather threats and if severe weather moves into the area to seek shelter immediately at the closest designated safe facility.

For the safety of the public and EDS personnel, The Salvation Army is making the following modification to today’s services:

First responders wait for their meal
Plaza Mayor at Crossroads (Distribution Center/Warehouse)

· This location will undergo a close for distribution at 2:30 PM today (5/29).

All Salvation Army Fixed and Roving Feedings will be available today through 2:30 p.m.

The Salvation Army will continue to monitor the weather each day and make any necessary modifications to services, locations, and personnel that may be necessary for public and personnel safety.

Daily updates will be issued as necessary.

Since Sunday, May 19, The Salvation Army has provided 33,904 meals, 45,874 drinks, and 34,000 snacks, 18 Canteens (mobile feeding units), 978 Clean Up and 1,064 Comfort (hygiene) kits, and prayer with 4,033 persons since Sunday, May 19. Nearly 7,500 man-hours have been logged by volunteers, employees and officers.

For the most recent, detailed information, visit

For those who would like to give to The Salvation Army, please consider a monetary donation. It is easy to give to The Salvation Army:

· By phone at 1-800-SAL-ARMY (1-800-725-2769)
· Online at

· By mail: The Salvation Army - Disaster Relief P.O. BOX 2536 Oklahoma City, OK 73102. Please make checks payable to "The Salvation Army" and clearly marked "May 2013 Oklahoma Tornadoes."

· You can also text the word “STORM” to 80888 to make a $10 donation through your mobile phone; to confirm your gift, respond with the word “Yes.”*

Currently, The Salvation Army is not accepting in-kind donations from the general public for disaster relief operations. In-kind donations require sorting, boxing, palletizing, storage, and delivery to the disaster location. All of these activities can be costly and time consuming, and therefore may delay service delivery. Used clothing and used furnishings are not needed for disaster relief.
However, The Salvation Army depends upon your donation of used clothing and other items to support local programming. Please consider donating your used clothing to your local Salvation Army Family Store.

In the Oklahoma City area, in-kind donations will only be accepted at The Salvation Army’s location at 7th St. and Pennsylvania Ave.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Tulsa helps in Moore

The Salvation Army Tulsa Area Command has a presence in aftermath of tornado

Salvation Army Lieutenant Autry surveys damagefrom the Moore tornado.
The Tulsa Area Command canteen is serving beverages, meals and comfort for tornado victims.
This volunteer is helping in the mobile feeding unit at the tornado site.
Photos by Lindsay Sparks, who has been deployed to Moore to help in the aftermath of the tornado.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Reasor's $10K gift matched by generous Tulsans! & an F.A.Q.

These neighbors brought water.

This has been an incredible week, heart breaking and heart warming at the same time. I’ve spent much of the week talking to people on the phone who want to do something to help tornado victims in Moore, Shawnee, and other hard hit locales. “I want to do something but I feel so helpless,” said one kind businessman who wanted to give us a truckload of turkey sandwiches to deliver to Moore. We couldn’t accept them because they’re perishable, but he was interested in donating other items such as work gloves to help with the relief effort. If you have items you want to donate for tornado recovery, please take them to a Reasor’s store.

Reasor’s is one of our fantastic corporate partners and on Tuesday they announced that they would match up to $10,000 of gifts from the public. Tulsans, we made it! If you texted a $10 gift to STORM 80888, it just doubled in value!


F.A.Q: Where to the donated items go?

Lots of folks who donated items for storm recovery wanted to know where they will be sent. Our warehouse at The Salvation Army (TSA) Tulsa Area Command is the largest TSA storage facility in Oklahoma, so we're going to keep the items we're collecting until they are requested by our staff working at storm recovery sites. We received word two days ago that too many things are being brought in to the recovery area and for agencies to stop sending things until it's better known what is needed.

We'll also need to sort the gifts we've received so we can easily access them to send. For example, if next week the only thing that is needed is work gloves, we don't want people on site to have to dig through other items to find them.
Volunteers helped collect items.

People also asked where our headquarters for storm recovery is. We call it an “Incident Command,” and currently we're using The Salvation Army Arkansas-Oklahoma Divisional Headquarters in Oklahoma City. We have a disaster logistics expert there who will be in charge of getting supplies that we collect in Tulsa to where they are needed in Moore.

Also, next week we hope to hear on-the-scene reports from fellow blogger Lindsay Sparks, who has been deployed to Incident Command on Sunday to work as a Public Information Officer there for seven days.

Have a happy and safe Memorial Day weekend and thank you for all your support this week. -Sallie

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Grateful donors give to help others

Deborah Adams and her husband James
When Deborah Adams heard that The Salvation Army Tulsa Area Command was collecting supplies to help with long-term recovery from the storms and tornado she had a personal reason to buy and bring bags of them to The Salvation Army. Her mom, 74-year-old Elaine Furr, lost most of her home and everything in it in the Moore tornado.

I was amazed that Deborah could tell me this without emotion, but her mom also lived through the tornado that hit Moore in 1999. “Plaza Towers Elementary is right behind her house. She used to work there,” Deborah said. For now, her mother is staying with her aunt.

Elaine escaped the tornado by going to a neighbor’s storm cellar. “She knew to do that because of the 1999 tornado,” Deborah said.

Although Elaine’s home is gone, her garage and a workshop next to it are still standing. Trees in the yard were uprooted and crashed into her house. I asked Deborah if her mom would rebuild. “I don’t know but I kind of doubt it,” she said. “She’s had enough.”

Although I  covered several tornados when I was a reporter, I cannot even begin to imagine what it’s really like. I’m just thankful Deborah’s mom made it and that so many people are helping. We'll be collecting supplies from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. tomorrow too, so please stop by.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Collections for tornado victims continue

Tulsans help The Salvation Army Tulsa Area Command by donating items for tornado victims

Tulsans helped tornado victims by donating needed items to The Salvation Army (TSA) Tulsa Area Command Tuesday and the collection effort will continue today and tomorrow. The Tulsa Area Command is collecting hydration items, snacks and toiletries to give to people in Moore who are helping with recovery. 

Tulsa Area Command will collect items listed below today from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and from noon to 4:30p.m. Thursday and Friday in the west parking lot of their headquarters at 924 S. Hudson.

Reasor’s Foods grocery stores will also collect the below items to give to The Salvation Army for tornado recovery in Moore. Reasor’s also will match up to $10,000 of donations made when people text STORM to 80888 to donate $10 to The Salvation Army for tornado relief. 

Items Needed for Tornado Recovery:
Bottled water
Wet Wipes
Individually wrapped snacks
Hand sanitizer
Work gloves
Heavy duty trash bags
Personal sanitation items, toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant.

NO CLOTHING DONATIONS ARE NEEDED AT THIS TIME. Storage is limited and must be used for immediate needs. Cash donations are preferred, as the funds can be used immediately where there is the greatest. All items will be used for disaster victims locally.

How to help:
TEXT TO GIVE by texting STORM to 80888 for a $10 donation

The Salvation Army Disaster Relief
P.O. BOX 12600
Oklahoma City, OK 73157
Please designate Oklahoma Tornado Relief on all checks.




Tuesday, May 21, 2013

How Tulsans Can Help with Moore Tornado Disaster Relief

 From Tuesday morning's press release:

Victor Higgins (left) and his wife Karen were the first people to donate items in Tulsa to help people in Moore.

In addition to taking a mobile feeding unit to Moore during the aftermath of the tornado, The Salvation Army Tulsa Area Command is collecting toiletries, hydration items and snacks to help people in Moore.  The Tulsa Area Command will collect the following items from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. TODAY (Tues., May 21)  in the west parking lot of their headquarters at 924 S. Hudson. 

UPDATE: Goods donations will be accepted through Friday- from 10am to 4:30pm on Wed and from 12noon to 4:30 on Thursday and Friday.
Bottled water


Wet wipes

Individually wrapped snacks
Hand sanitizer
Work gloves
Heavy duty trash bags
Personal sanitation items, toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant.

NO CLOTHING DONATIONS ARE NEEDED AT THIS TIME. Storage is limited and must be used for immediate needs.
Cash donations are preferred, as the funds can be used immediately where there is the greatest.
All items will be used locally.  
How to donate funds:
The Salvation Army Disaster Relief
P.O. BOX 12600
Oklahoma City, OK 73157
Please designate Oklahoma Tornado Relief on all checks.
TEXT TO GIVE: Text GIVE to 80888 for a $10 donation

Volunteers are needed in Tulsa to assist with collecting donations.To find out more information about current and future volunteer needs, call 918-587-7801.

Friday, May 17, 2013

What does The Salvation Army mean to volunteers?

Volunteers are nothing new to The Salvation Army, but sometimes we put so much work into getting the volunteers to volunteer that we forget to ask about their experiences with us. With this being Salvation Week I decided now would be a good time to rectify the situation.  Recently I got to speak with Robert, the manager of a Murphy’s gas station, who contacted us because his company wanted their employees to be more involved in their local communities.

I asked Robert what made him choose TSA for their volunteer project and he said something that no matter how many times I hear it never ceases to impress me. “Our group wanted to give back to the community and wanted an organization known for doing a lot of good, so TSA was the first to come to mind.”

Throughout my conversation with Robert about his group’s experience, the recurring theme was that they wanted a place where they could help out and see the benefit of all their hard work.  He certainly chose the right place to come. Toward the end of the interview I asked Robert what exactly TSA meant to him as a volunteer. His response?  “A place that is there for the community and that is there to help. If we volunteer for a  place like that, then we too are helping!”

P.S. If you’re curious Robert’s group volunteered at our Sapulpa Boys & Girls Club, giving the club a little TLC before summer camp begins.

Q. & A. with Robert

Q. What did your volunteer group do?
A. We painted hallways of the Sapulpa Boys &Girls Club. We finished the mural of "Wall of  the Thunders," deep cleaned the club, painted an office by swimming pool, and helped get the outside in tip-top shape. We also moved the outside furniture around.

Q. What did you think of your experience?
 A. We had a good experience, it made everyone feel good to help know they are helping the kids and felt good about donating our time.

Q. Would you recommending volunteering to other groups?
 A. Yes, because it was well coordinated. We were able to do tasks and projects that once we were done were able to see improvement and see the results."

Q. What would you say to people who say they are too busy to volunteer?
 A.Everyone is busy but  but actually finding time to do this and give back to the community is worthwhile and you should do it. -Jenny

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Guests at Center of Hope celebrate Salvation Army Week

 The Salvation Army means a new start for a young family at the Center of Hope

Bethany and Greg Bristol and their daughter Mkenzie, age 2, moved into The Salvation Army Center of Hope homeless shelter and social services center Dec. 10, 2012. I first met them at the monthly birthday party the Center of Hope holds every month for children staying there. I always think, and hope, that after four years of working for The Salvation Army I’ve left stereotypes of people who are homeless behind me, but upon meeting the couple and their toddler, I was once again surprised.

Bethany and Greg have a clean cut, wholesome, all American appearance that you would expect of someone like Greg, who has earned his Associates degree from TCC and also studied computer technology at the University of Tulsa. Bethany is the picture of the busy but happy mom, doting on Mkenzie’s every move.

But like many families staying in the Supportive Housing Program at the Center of Hope, they experienced a series of circumstances that ended with homelessness. It started with Greg losing his job. Then he was unable to find a new job because the car broke down, then they lost their home because of lack of income. They stayed with a friend until they needed to leave before they wore out their welcome. It’s a story I’ve heard many times.

What does The Salvation Army mean to them?

Bethany said that she was expecting “horrible, bad stuff” at the Center of Hope, such as prostitution, drug use and theft. “It has absolutely been the opposite. Tara and Kelley (their case managers) are amazing ladies. They really care about us. The name ‘Center of Hope’ is absolutely perfect for this place,” Bethany said.

 “It’s given us stability and a place to start again,” Greg said.

And that's what The Salvation Army means to them.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Celebrate Salvation Army Week by learning more about Boys & Girls Clubs!

What does The Salvation Army mean to kids and parents?
Roylee and his grandmother
This is Salvation Army Week and people are celebrating around the world.  At The Salvation Army Tulsa Area Command, one of the ways we are celebrating is to learn more about what The Salvation Army means to different people who use our services, volunteer with us or who are affected by The Savlation Army in other ways.

Friday,  I was at the Mabee Red Shield Boys & Girls Club for two events; the grand opening of their Cox Technology Center and  their Mothers Day Tea, so I got a chance to ask club members, their moms and grandmas about what the Mabee Red Shield Boys & Girls Club means to them.

“It does mean a lot,” Roylee, age 10 told me. “They call me out on stuff, help me with my homework, keep me active and give me a program. They are always nice,” he said. I think it says a lot that Roylee recognizes that getting “called out on stuff” is a positive thing. Any parent who wants to be “friends” with their child  take note!

Roylee’s grandmother, Sandra Gunnells, looks after Roylee’s younger siblings while he is at the club’s aftercare program and picks Roylee up every weekday. “Mabee Red Shield provides an outlet for Roylee. He can be rough and tough playing football and during baseball he pops, bats, runs and catches. It’s two different sports that develop different skills and keep him active,” Sandra said. She is also appreciative of the hygiene tips Roylee has picked up. “No more stinky pits,” is the way this down-to-earth grandma put it.

Brooklyn, age nine, is in the third grade at Lanier Elementary. She said she was surprised by the number of members (250) and Mabee Red Shield’s Boy Scout troop. She also was surprised by all the art activities when she first started at Mabee Red Shield. “ I like coming here and taking the art class. I like to draw and my favorite is drawing funny people,” Brooklyn said.

When I first saw Brooklyn at the club Friday I thought she was in a time out because she was seated by herself in the game room and was wearing a pout. I asked her about it. "No, I was feeling sad because I was missing my mom," she said. I think it's great that our Program Aides let Brooklyn take time out from activities to feel her feelings without being scolded or made fun of by the other kids.

Three people, three different views of what The Salvation Army means to them. We can’t be all things to all people, and don’t even try to be. But what we do, we do well, and helping children grow into adults is one of those things. -Sallie

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Tribute to an amazing mother

My mother Virginia Taylor
posing with her wedding photo.
Salvation Army Tulsa Area Commander Major Jim Taylor honors his mom for Mothers Day

My mother is 92 years old. For as long as I can remember she has selflessly cared for me and my four siblings. I honestly can not remember a time when she was more concerned about her personal well-being than for that of her children. This is especially significant to me since our father died when I was just nine years old, leaving my mother to raise five children on her own.

Proverbs 6:20 says, "do not forsake your mother's teaching." Proverbs 22:6 tells parents, "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it."
The five Taylor kids surround my mom.
From birth I was trained to honor God, obey my parents, and respect others. It would be a violation of all three of these statutes if I told you I have all of my life. In fact, after my father died, and my mother had to work full time, I often times did what I pleased. I played outside in my school clothes.

I didn't come straight home from school and do my homework. I fed the dog from the table. I didn't keep my room clean. As I aged, I began skipping school, drinking Boone's Farm Strawberry wine and the cheapest beer we could find.

My mother and I enjoy a good laugh
I would sneak out of the house at night for adventure and mischief. I lied to this amazing woman to cover my tracks (only to find out later that those tracks were glaringly evident to her). Now, as a parent, I understand the heartache I gave her - and she had no one to help shoulder the burden. Or did she? 
1 Peter 5:7 says that we can "cast all our cares on Him (Jesus), for He cares for you".

A birthday dance
In recent conversations with my mother I have learned that she "cast" me on the Lord. Realizing her limited influence she turned to the One who is limitless. Although I thought life was grand doing as I wanted, she knew I was headed for a train wreck. Fortunately for me, her prayers prevented a crash that would ruin my life. However, my train did wreck - right into the love of God, and I have never been the same. 
My eyes well up with tears of thankfulness as I ponder my mother's faithful and consistent trust in God. In a large way, it is why I am who I am today.

Mothers are a gift from God. Of course, it is true that none of us would be here without a mother. But think on this: where would I be without my mother?

Now tell the mothers in your life how special they are.

Happy Mother's Day.
Major Jim Taylor

My mother went skydiving on her 90th birthday.

Monday, May 6, 2013

King Eddie gives BA Boys & Girls Club his all

BA volunteer Eddie B. with
Janis Fraley, Club Director

It's impossible to write about The Salvation Army Broken Arrow Boys & Girls Club without writing about Eddie Ballentine. It's also impossible to define his role at the club, because he is a combination of Challenger, volunteer greeter and personal assistant to  club director Janis Fraley. Eddie has been coming to the club for 17 years. His nickname is "King Eddie," and  the club had it painted on a bench for him at the entrance.

When Janis  told Eddie that he was going to be interviewed for a blog post, she said he was really excited. I think he had saved up things he wanted to tell me and although he was nervous, he did very well.

Eddie and his bench in front of the club
Eddie has diverse duties at the club. He’s there at 9 every weekday morning " to pick up things on the copier and take them to Miss Janis to save her a few steps," and stays until 5 p.m. except when he stays until 8 p.m. on Mondays and Tuesdays. On Monday evenings he participates in club-chartered Boys Scout Troop 995. This year the troop awarded him the "Citizen of the Community" award, Eddie said.

On Tuesday evenings, he participates in Men's Fellowship at the Broken Arrow Corps. When it was his turn to teach a class, he stepped up to the plate. "It was very popular. The men were talking about it for weeks," Captain Mike Lucas, corps officer said.

When the weather is nice and younger club members play in the sandbox, Eddie watches them to make sure they don’t get sand in their eyes. "It burns," he said. Eddie likes to give tours of the club and he also likes showing new members how to get to the pool. His other duties might be described as “pitch in as needed,” which  is not unusual for any volunteer job.

Several times a week, Eddie takes time off from the club to work with a job coach who helps him prepare paper for shredding. Although he likes getting  paid, he told me he likes his volunteer job at the club better. Why?
“I’m needed here,” he said.

That made my day Eddie. You are the King! -Sallie

Thursday, May 2, 2013

So you think you can dance? So can the Challengers!

The Salvation Army Broken Arrow Boys & Girls Club hosts Red Carpet Formal

Challengers dance to "Y.M.C.A."
The Broken Arrow Boys & Girls Club hosted their second annual Challengers’ Red Carpet Formal and this time around I got to attend it! The Challengers are a group of developmentally disabled kids and adults who are sponsored by the Club. I was touched to see the Club host the dance for the Challengers, since some of them might never have attended a high school prom. BA Club Director Janis Fraley and aquatics instructor Shelley Persinger both have huge hearts for the Challengers and their dedication to the group showed in every little detail at the formal.

This young lady is waiting for her guy.
First, the club really did roll out red carpet and the Challengers walked on it as they entered the gym through a gazebo decorated with spring flowers.  Many of the Challengers dressed up in prom attire, but just like every prom, there are always a few who come casual. A professional DJ played classics such as YMCA and the Macarena, threw in some rock for the kids and even some from Frank Sinatra for the parents (and me).

BA Club receptionist Holly Jones talked her photographer husband Kent into shooting portraits of couples. The BA staff had set up the fitness room for his studio, and he brought lights and a backdrop.

Ladies from the BA Corps donated homemade desserts, the club provided a main course and Challenger parents also brought appetizers and desserts. Unlike a prom, the Red Carpet Formal “refreshments” turned out to be a full dinner.

Shelley Persinger, left, serves dinner.
Not only did the formal give Challengers an opportunity  to have fun,  the dance also gave Challenger parents an opportunity to relax with their mostly-grown children and visit with other Challenger parents.

Challenger Kaylee Thomason's parents, Allen and Merise Roberts, said the dance was a great time for their kids to get out and have a wonderful time.(Kaylee and Merise are in the left photo.) I caught them dancing several times with Kaylee and also with each other, which was sweet. It’s a wonderful thing to see what a Boys & Girls Club can do when a special group of people inspires them to give it their all. I’m looking forward to the third annual Challengers Formal!