Saturday, June 29, 2013

Youth sports + grants = a winning combination!

Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs Wanna Play

Mabee Red Shield Cowboys, right
A few weeks ago, Boys & Girls Club Executive Director David emailed me about a grant opportunity for the Boys & Girls Club of Tulsa for sports programming. Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA)and Buffalo Wild Wings has an "All Star" program which offers mini-grants to Clubs that have existing football and cheerleading programs, or that want to start one. After looking at each of our six area Clubs-- from Broken Arrow to North Tulsa-- I submitted the West Mabee Boys & Girls Club in West Tulsa for the grant. It would be primarily used to  buy new sports equipment such as football helmets and pads.

Boys & Girls Club basketball
We're also going to be applying for a "Wanna Play" mini-grant through the Major League Baseball Association's partnership with BGCA. Wanna Play includes weekly activities and a field day!

We're excited about the late summer/fall sports programs at our Clubs- they are a great outreach tool to the community and are super beneficial for the kids. Sports teach so much about teamwork, having a good attitude, and also get kids engaged in healthy movement and exercise.

I'm excited to hear back on these grants in the coming weeks!


If you'd like to help financially support sports' programs at the Tulsa area Boys & Girls Clubs, you can call our Director of Development, Lindsay Sparks at 918-587-7801 to directly donate.

If you'd like more information on volunteering or coaching one of the Club's teams, call our Volunteer Coordinator, Jenny McElyea, at 918-587-7801, ex. 113.

If you'd like to get your child involved in a team sport, call the Club Admin office at 918-835-6902!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Volunteer coordinator helps in aftermath of tornadoes

Jenny shot this amazing photo.

Tulsa Salvation Army staffer plays critical role in recovery

When Volunteer Coordinator Jenny McElyea taught her most recent disaster training class, she had no idea that within a few weeks she would be working in her first disaster, much less recruiting and processing hundreds of volunteers in the aftermath of tornadoes. When she arrived in Oklahoma City on May 31st, she also had no idea that by 1 a.m. she’d be sitting in the stairwell of the Arkansas Oklahoma Salvation Army Headquarters, waiting out tornadoes in El Reno.

“Factors are changing constantly. There’s change at a moment’s notice. You have to be willing and be flexible,” Jenny said recently. As soon as she arrived in OKC, she was named as Incident Command Volunteer Coordinator. “Originally they thought they’d have to find someone from out of state to take the position,” she said. “So they were glad to find me. I was honored to be chosen.”
Jenny is on the far right in this photo from Incident Command.

Although volunteers were plentiful immediately after the May 20 tornado in Moore, by the time Jenny arrived, interest in volunteering was waning, especially interest in volunteering during working hours. So she put out the word by utilizing special website for people to sign up and using social media.

The largest site she was responsible for filling with volunteers was the old JCPenney at the Plaza de Mayor Mall, where donated items such as bottled water and cleaning supplies were collected. Volunteers sorted the donated goods and helped tornado victims “shop” the aisles for items they could use.

Jenny also found volunteers for MARCS, Multi Agency Resource Centers, where volunteers and social works helped tornado victims fill out the necessary paperwork to apply for aid. And when the combination of on line and social media volunteer recruitment didn’t seem to be enough to get those workday volunteers, Jenny turned to old fashioned techniques, ones that were in abundance during the tornadoes and the aftermath.

“I prayed and I cried,” she said.
By all accounts, Jenny’s first disaster experience was a success.


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Sapulpa Summer Day Camp special for teens

Salvation Army Sapulpa Boys and Girls Club loves teens

Is there a sound any sweeter than the sound of a teenager vacuuming? Or a smell any sweeter than the scent of a teenager cleaning a counter with Clorox wipes? I don’t think so. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t often treated to these sensations when my kids were teens. But at the Sapulpa Boys & Girls Club Summer Day Camp I got to experience both.

Sapulpa loves its teens. And they love their program. There are about 20 teens, ages sixth through eleventh grade in the teen program, organized by Program Aide Jenny Andre. The average attendance for Summer Day Camp in Sapulpa is 125 kids, ages five to 16. The day I was there, the teens were in the doghouse with Jenny because they had left the Teen Room a mess. She told them to clean it up or lose the privilege using it. So they cleaned up it, even lifting two sofas to extract all the interesting things that had rolled under it. 

“We love coming in here to get away from all the little kids,” one girl said, when asked what was so great about the program. Other things on the list were that they had outlets in the room to charge their cell phones and other technology. But best of all, it was their room.

Jenny, who is 21, said she remembered being a teenager and wanting to be treated differently than her siblings because she was older. Club Director Jake Law said Jenny started the program two years ago.

“It’s really taken off. The teens love Jenny and she does a great job,” Jake said. 

Of course there’s more going on at the Sapulpa Summer Day Camp than just the teen program. I got to talk to a group of elementary school girls who were excited about being with each other at the club. Jake said the campers are dodgeball fanatics and often play it in the gym, as well as basketball games and lacrosse. Campers recently enjoyed a trip to Grand Lake to cruise on the Cherokee Queen paddle boat. 

“There are kids who have never, ever done anything like that before,” Jake said.

The theme of the Sapulpa camp is “Thunder Up” for the Oklahoma City Thunder basketball team. In addition to athletics, the Boys & Girls Club expresses its spiritual side by opening each day with a prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance. “We pray over the program,” Jake said. It must be working, because I’ve never seen teens clean and be happy about it like they did in Sapulpa!  



Friday, June 21, 2013

Angel Tree 2013

The Salvation Army Angel Tree Gearing Up for Christmas in Tulsa

 This program provides assistance for low income families with children aged 0-12 and for senior citizens aged 62 and older. Tulsa County residents only. Residents of Sand Springs (918) 245-2237, Sapulpa (918) 244-4415 and Broken Arrow (918) 258-7545 must register in their own area.

Applications for the 2013 Angel Tree will be by appointment only. 
Appointment letters available Mon-Thurs. 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. beginning August 19, 2013. 

Letters will provide a date/time for a specific appointment between Sept. 18th and Oct. 11th.

Letters can be picked up at: Salvation Army Tulsa Area Command, 924 S. Hudson Ave.

To be eligible for assistance parties must provide:
  • Current photo ID: drivers license, passport, state ID or school photo ID.
  • and Housing, TANF or Food Stamp documents showing all members of the household
  • Proof of residence in Tulsa County: (One of the following) utility bill, phone bill, rental agreement, other mail matching ID
  • Proof of household income: (One of the following) pay stub, unemployment documentation, documentation that shows how the household is maintained. NOTE: All members of the household must be accounted for by some type of ID or birth certificate. (see SNAP income guidelines for family size and income requirements for assistance)
  • Proof of children: (One of the following) Birth certificate, shot records with DOB, any legal form that has the name of the child and DOB (no social security cards).
  • Proof of child's residence in Tulsa County: (One of the following) report card, proof of current enrollment or shot record.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Charity Golf Tournament scheduled for July 22

Felix Jones with North Mabee Mustangs

Tulsa Metro Salvation Army Boys and Girls Clubs will benefit

Some of the best professional athletes in Oklahoma first learned how to play their sport in one of our six Boys & Girls Clubs: Philadelpia Eagles running back Felix Jones and San Diego Chargers receiver Robert Meachem are just a few of them.  Now a group of businessmen and women are using a sport to raise money and awareness for our Clubs.
The 14th Annual Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Tulsa Charity Golf Tournament is returning to Tulsa County Club on July 22.  This year, golfers will get an opportunity to play on the same course as some of the best female college golfers. In May 2014, Tulsa Country Club will host the NCAA Women’s Golf Championship.
For the first time ever, the tournament will have a Women’s Division, which offers ladies-only teams a chance to win a separate title!
Golfers at the 2012 tournament
The Boys & Girls Clubs Charity Golf Tournament has two flights: the AM flight has a shotgun start at 8am, the PM flight begins at 1:30pm. Spots are still available in both flights.  Sponsorships ranging from a Hole ($200) to Gold ($2,500) are also still available.  A team entry is $800.  The entry fee includes a team photo, greens fee, cart, practice range, lunch, a complimentary gift and the awards celebration. Several door prizes will also be awarded, including a recliner from Mathis Brothers!
This golf tournament gets bigger and bigger each year and this is your opportunity to become a part of a great summer tradition for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Tulsa.
If you’re interested in sponsoring or entering a team, please contact me at or call 918-587-7801 ext. 121.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Passport to Manhood

Jamar Giddings is second from right.

Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club's special program popular

What does "manhood" mean to today's youth? For many boys in West Tulsa, it means toying with dropping out of school early, seeking friendship and leadership in gangs, and experimenting with drugs.

But one man is setting a different example. West Tulsa Boys & Girls Club director, Jamar Giddings, is a mentor and friend to many young men, welcoming them into his Club, but also his home.
For the past several years, Jamar (who we last saw at the Youth of the Year awards banquet with the 2013 Youth of the Year Anthony Wilson) has lead a program called "Passport to Manhood" and supplemented the lessons of the program with lots of one-on-one time, modeling fatherhood and manhood at his home and with his church family.

Passport to Manhood teaches a variety of basic life skills and lessons cover topics like:
  • banking and checking/savings accounts
  • hygiene
  • job skills/resume
  • self-esteem
  • etiquette
  • relationships/girls/respect, etc.

Caleb Green
The Boys & Girls Club curriculum can be tailored to a specific age group audience, which is generally either Elementary/Middle School (ages 8-12) or Middle/High School (13-18).

In addition to 'lessons' and one-on-one time, Jamar has been good to engage community members to come speak to the Passport guys. He's drawn from a variety of professions, from international sports professionals like Kelvin Sangel and Caleb Green, to Club alumni who are lawyers and bankers, like Lee Jones, formerly with BOK.
Jamar Giddings playing basketball.

Unfortunately, the curriculum that West Mabee has to work with is outdated (last purchased in 1999) and with new curriculum available, Jamar is hoping to relaunch the Passport to Manhood program and reach more boys than ever before. 

We hope to help him; just last week, I applied for a Passport to Manhood grant for all new curriculum and a program assistant. We won't hear back on the application for a few months, but we are moving forward with a basketball tournament with players from ORU to get kids over to the Club, and hopefully, get them on the right track to true manhood.


If you would like to support Jamar's efforts to teach young men the art of being a man, you can call The Salvation Army Tulsa Area Command at 918-587-7801 to make a donation or donate online at:

If you would be interested in speaking to a Passport to Manhood group on your area of expertise, call us! We would love to put you in touch with Jamar.

Please share this post with friends or family who may be interested in the program or in supporting the program!



Wednesday, June 12, 2013

"The Salvation Army Saved My Life"

How the Salvation Army Made a Difference to a former multi-millionaire.

 I first heard Lyle's personal story at a United Way tour through the Center of Hope; I was astonished by his story of loss, recovery and hope and wanted to share it with you.

Lyle Lawrence has a strong handshake, makes good eye contact & talks easily when you meet him. He is an experienced businessman & salesperson, and currently, a Center of Hope resident. Although Lyle once retired at the age of 36 with a net worth of 3.5 million dollars, he now shares a room with a fellow homeless substance abuser in recovery. How did he get here? Alcoholism. 

Lyle credit’s the Salvation Army with saving his life. Although he developed alcoholism late in life, it didn’t take him long after his retirement at the age of 36 to drink, gamble and smoke his savings away. He was broke by 47. And sleeping in his car shortly thereafter.   

But he had further to fall.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Summer Day Camp packed with fun

Mabee Red Shield members at Woolaroc

Salvation Army Mabee Red Shield Boys & Girls Club ramps up program

The Salvation Army Mabee Red Shield Boys & Girls Club is almost too busy for me to keep up with. Every time I visit, I see kids having fun in a new program. Plus, Mabee Red Shield gets a lot of support from the community. For example, Ross Dress for Less Stores assisted with the Club’s Mother Day Tea and Cox Communications donated all the computers and equipment for the club to open up the Cox Technology Center this summer.
Maj.Jim Taylor learns a video game.

"The computers will go a long way in helping them to keep up their skills during the summer and keep up in school next year,” club director Jerome Smith said.

Club program Melissa Gruszeczki has several special summer classes planned. The older members get to take journalism class from program aide Crystal Mastandrea and create a newsletter which is sent home to parents. In “Sports Club,” athletic director Jason weeks coaches the older kids on teaching the younger kids organized sports.

“The older kids take it very seriously and get a lot out of taking responsibility to teach the younger kids the rules of the game,” Jason said. Program aide Anthony Hall is coaching the kids in track and field sports.
Volunteers from Ross at Mothers Day Tea

So far the club has taken field trips to the Blue Bell Ice Cream factory and Woolaroc. Fun activities scheduled for later this summer are an outing to see the Tulsa Shock play and a trip to Frontier City in Oklahoma City. I’m just sorry I missed the trip to Blue Bell – I heard there were free samples! –Sallie

Friday, June 7, 2013

Supporting Little Axe with presence and prayer

The Salvation Army mobilized to help hard-hit areas

On the evening of Sunday May 19, tornadoes damaged hundreds of homes in Shawnee, Newcastle, Carney and Little Axe..  The Salvation Army responded immediately with food, hydration and emotional and spiritual care.  The very next afternoon the unimaginable happened. An F5 tornado, nearly four miles wide in some places, dropped only 25 miles away from Sunday’s damage, in Moore.

Many of the national emergency organizations that had been in Shawnee and Little Axe immediately left, heading to the area of greater damage on the other side of Oklahoma City.  The Salvation Army was one of those agencies that had to pull out, but it was only temporary. By Tuesday afternoon more mobile feeding units and staff had been mobilized and care of the lesser-hit (but still devastated) areas resumed.  I visited one of these areas, Little Axe, on Wed., May 29, ten days after this small town lost so many homes.

My guides for the day were  Major Marion Durham, Captain Chris Farrell and Lieutenant Michael Missey, Emotional and Spiritual Care (ESC) counselors, all of whom traveled from Florida to help Oklahomans. This was their seventh day on the ground in the Little Axe community and most of the homes we visited were repeat visits; daily check-ins to offer water, ice, Gatorade, snacks and spiritual care.

The Little Axe community was devastated;  many of the homes impacted were mobile homes with lightweight walls, no foundation and roofs with very little support.  The tornado made a great impact on these rural homes, spreading debris across pastures and up and down red dirt roads, all through the area’s hills and valleys.

The ESC team knew each homeowner by name. As we pulled up, Major Durham would give me an overview of the family’s situation.  Many were still trying to get access to basic needs, others were on the road to recovery, but all were just trying to clear the debris from their land while simultaneously planning to rebuild.
Major Durham visits with Robert near Little Axe, Okla.
When we pulled up to the home of a man named Robert, it didn’t look like anyone was home.  The mobile home looked almost untouched from the front yard, but I knew there was more than met the eye based on the large pile of debris by the curb.  We unloaded and headed to the back of the lot where you could see the back half of the home was completely missing.  We spotted Robert feeding his chickens and said hello while he updated the team on his family’s situation. He was angry; the insurance agency had offered his family less than what he owed for his home and the land it sat upon. Using “colorful” language, Robert shared his feelings with the team and they did what they have been trained to do, listened.

He was frustrated that looting was becoming  a problem along his country road.  Although all of his metal debris, appliances, lawn mowers, etc. had been earmarked for the city to pick up and sell for money that would benefit his community, others kept coming by and trying to take it.  “It’s spoken for,” he related angrily to us.  Just because these items were damaged and piled in the front yard, he was still the owner and felt violated when others stopped and started rifling through his belongings. “People can be real mean at times and real helpful at times,” he said.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Salvation Army National Doughnut Day Is Friday!

The Sweetest Celebration: National Doughnut Day

I prefer mine with maple or chocolate on top. My husband grabs the one with filling inside, while my son likes the Spongebob-shaped pastry. Everyone has a favorite type of doughnut and we have the Salvation Army to thank for the popular treat.

On Friday, June 7th, we celebrate the pastry on National Doughnut Day. This day commemorates the “doughnut lassies,” female Salvation Army volunteers who provided writing supplies, sewing, home-cooked meals, and of course, doughnuts, for soldiers on the front lines during World War I.

For the third year in a row, Merritt’s Bakery is showing its support of the Salvation Army by donating 10% of its doughnut sales on Friday to the organization. Merritt’s Bakery has three locations:  3202 E. 15th Street (near 15th & Harvard), 2832 E. 101st Street (near 101st & the Creek Turnpike) and 4930 W. Kenosha Street (near 71st & Garnett). This week, all three stores will also have small red counter kettles for people to toss their change into as an additional fundraiser.

Plan on celebrating Doughnut Day, while also making your co-workers happy by grabbing some doughnuts at Merritt’s Bakery on Friday!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Summer Day Camps in full swing

Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club members enjoying day camp
At the Mabee Red Shield Boys & Girls Club, members got a treat on Wednesday when supporters from JP Morgan Chase Bank representatives brought by summer supplies including water pistols,  Slip ‘n Slides, a wading pool, beach balls and pool noodles. Program Director Melissa Gruszeczki said the supplies fit perfectly with her once-a-week water games program called “Splash Into Fun.” The Mabee Red Shield members also swim once a week at Chandler Park or the Broken Arrow Boys & Girls Club.  In the photo at left, three club kids unpack the gifts as JP Morgan Chase bankers David Stratton and Kristin Bohanon watch.

At the Broken Arrow Boys & Girls Club, Director Janis Fraley said she has 153 kids in Summer Day Camp. The cost is $100 a week with a $5 deposit to reserve a spot. The club also requires the $45 annual membership fee that includes a T-shirt. This club takes kids on two field trips a week, to the movies, Incredible Pizza, Laser Quest, horseback riding, and even a float trip. Janis said one of the favorite features of Summer Day Camp is Fast Food Wednesdays, when parents who are tired of packing their child’s lunch can send money for the club to provide a meal from local fast food restaurants.

It’s hard to believe that Summer Day Camp in Sapulpa has already been going on for a month! Because none of the schools had to use snow days this year, several Day Camps started earlier than usual. Sapulpa Boys & Girls Club Director Jake Law said the club has lots of fun events and field trips planned. When I talked to him he was busy setting up “Tent Day” in the gym. He said kids bring in their tents and sleeping bags and set them up in the gym just as if they were outside. I love the creativity of our Boys & Girls Club directors!