Wednesday, August 29, 2012

We helped build a house!

Volunteer Coordinator Jenny McElyea recruited six coworkers from Area Command, Major Jim Taylor and five ARC program participants to help finish a house for Habitat for Humanity on a recent Friday. We were happily surprised to be joined by the housing maintenance staff of the Mental Health Association in Tulsa. In other words, there were plenty of folks to get the job done. Partnering with the association was nothing new to The Salvation Army, because one of our case managers at the Center of Hope, Jason Wolfe, works as the case manager for two participants in the association’s “A Way Home Tulsa” program. 

“You’ll get to say that you helped build a house,” Jenny had said when she recruited us, and indeed we did. She and Carrie Salce, special events and fundraising director, got the toughest jobs, measuring and cutting linoleum tile that covered most of the three-bedroom house. They had plenty of guidance from Habitat construction supervisor Rick Stout who told me a funny story about volunteer builders. It seems we hate to throw anything away. “The volunteers couldn’t stand to waste any drywall, so they used every little piece. Their walls looked like a patchwork quilt,” Rick said.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Golfer Hits Hole-in-One... 5th Annual Women Helping Women Golf Tournament .
Ladies love golf! Dozens of women grabbed their golf clubs and put on their Monday best to be a part of the 5th Annual Women Helping Women Golf Tournament on August 6 at MeadowBrook Country Club.  Mother Nature cooperated with us this time for a nice morning, although the Oklahoma summer heat started to wave upon us towards the end of play. 

One of our lucky golfers, Sue Maxwell, got a Hole-in-One on Hole #5! Her prize: a trip for four to the Silver Legacy Resort in Reno, Nevada! Sue says she’s never hit a hole-in-one before so she’s very excited about her big prize! Sue was also a last-minute replacement for another player who couldn’t attend. I bet she’s glad she said “yes” to playing in the tournament! 

Friday, August 24, 2012

"While there remains one dark soul ..."

...without the light of God, I'll fight. I'll fight to the very end." General William Booth made what became know as his commitment in a speech the year he died, in 1912. The phrase "the light of God" makes me think of a question I often get asked about the Center of Hope. People want to know if the center requires people to sit through a sermon or read the Bible before they can eat a meal or stay the night. We don't.
An equally salient question would be "If The Salvation Army is all about saving souls, then why not?" First, it would be discriminatory, and our mission is to serve without discrimination. I believe the second reason goes back to the words of Gen. Booth. He said "one dark soul without the light of God," not "without God."  The light of God is all over the Center of Hope, all over our Boys and Girls Clubs, all over our Corps. It's about doing, not preaching.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

While men go to prison, in and out, in and out, I’ll fight..."

General William Booth made that remark in 1912, probably 80 years before meth. When I think of people who are in and out of prison, I think of people I interviewed for my blog series about meth addiction. Everyone I talked to had criminal records that spanned decades. It also makes me think of a man I met last Friday. He was an Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC) program participant and he said that prison for him was like a revolving door. It seems like the equation is meth addiction = prison, or worse. To read about The Salvation Army and addictions  click here. To read about a meth addict recovering at the ARC, click here. To read a hopeful post about how The Salvation Army helps kids make smart choices about drugs and other peer pressures to prevent drug addiction, click here.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

"While children go hungry..."

General William Booth said, "While little children go hungry as they do now, I’ll fight.." and his mission continues today. Every year during Christmas week there are nearly 4,000 families whose  children will not go hungry because of The Salvation Army. Those families have signed up for gifts from the Angel Tree for their children and are told they will get a food basket too. When I first saw the amount of food given, I realized that although part of it is contained in a bushel basket, the rest of it will feed a family of four for a week. We give every Angel Tree family enough food to make a holiday dinner with a whole turkey or chicken, all the fixings, potatoes, apples, a gallon of milk, butter and enough baking supplies to last a month.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

"While women weep..."

General William Booth said  "As women weep as they do now, I'll fight." The Salvation Army Tulsa Area Command continues his fight. Arletta Robinson, director of the Center of Hope, often gives tours of the homeless shelter and social services center and people often get emotional. To read the post that goes with this photograph, click here. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

General Booth’s fight continues a hundred years after his death

In all the photos I’ve seen of The Salvation Army’s founder, General William Booth, he is a wild-looking man, his beard long and untrimmed, his features gaunt and his white hair thick and out of control. A bronze plaque with a likeness of Gen. Booth hangs on the wall of our Center of Hope and I’ll often look around at our homeless guests and think that Gen. Booth would fit right in. I think he’d like that, because as a minister he never seemed to put himself above anyone, homeless, drug addicted or alcoholic. He helped them instead. To listen to Booth speak about his ministry, click here. 

Monday is the 100th anniversary of Gen. Booth's death. He grew up in a Methodist church and had read the Bible as a child. His family lost everything in a bad investment and his father became alcoholic. At age 13, Gen. Booth went to work in a pawn shop in England where families sold their valuables to feed their children. Gen. Booth was all too familiar with poverty. He moved to London as a young man and started preaching on the streets of East London, considered a slum at the time.

The streets there were a lot meaner than in Tulsa, with open prostitution, opium dens and starving, begging children. Now our social ills seem more hidden with human trafficking, meth labs and sadly, starving children still. So maybe things haven’t changed that much.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Holiday Help

Do you know someone who may need assistance this holiday season?  As most local folks already know-- we help thousands in the Tulsa Metro with Christmas needs each year.  For the third year we are offering Christmas assistance registration BY APPOINTMENT ONLY.  Don't fret though, we have 4,000 appointments available!  

RIGHT NOW is the time to come by our headquarters at 924 S. Hudson and pick up an appointment letter. They are available Mon-Thurs from 9a.m.-3p.m.  Each letter will have a date and time for families to come and apply for assistance.  The letter also has information about what to bring and what not to bring. Assistance is available to low income families who have proof of income and expenses, as well as some other paperwork.

Every year I have people ask me, how do you get angels for the Angel Tree? This is the first step in that process. We hand out appointments in August, then we take appointments through October and finally we put all the trees out with the Angels in November.  This system provides food and gifts for local families who need it most.  

Don't be shy, if you know someone who might need help, please tell them that they can come and get an appointment. The Salvation Army wants every child in Tulsa to have a smile on their face this Christmas. 

You can CLICK HERE for additional information.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma donates matching grant

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma is giving The Salvation Army a matching grant of up to $15,000 to help us help the wildfire victims and it’s not a second too soon. I just can’t get my mind off the stories I’ve heard from the Mannford area. It’s hard for me to imagine how people are coping with such loss.

Major Jim Taylor has been to the emergency center several times in the last few days. Today, he told me about meeting a man named James and his dog, Jojo. James lives a mile from the highway, “out in the middle of nowhere,” Maj. Taylor said.

 “He said he lives in a mobile home and Jojo woke him up as soon as it caught fire. He escaped in his truck."  James makes a living by collecting junk metal in a trailer he pulls behind his truck. He left the trailer behind and the wheels melted. So here’s a guy who lost his home and his livelihood all in one night.
"He’s just thankful for his life and his dog,” Maj. Taylor said."

Monday, August 13, 2012

Golf Tournament A Big Success

Triple-digit temperatures did not slow down 160 golfers at the 13th Annual Boys and Girls Clubs Charity Golf Tournament. Golfers played in the morning and afternoon (four golfers played both flights) at Tulsa Country Club. This tournament ended up being our most successful yet, bringing in more than $64,000!Golfers were treated to breakfast, lunch, an afternoon snack and plenty of goodies at the event. Games at the event included “Luck Be A Lady” where the golfers could take a closer tee shot to the hole. Money from that game benefits our Mabee Red Shield girls basketball team. 

A big thank you to our 2012 Golf Committee: Honorary Chairman John Harper; Commissioner Al Colby (also the 2013 Honorary Chairman); Gary Paxton; Jeff Sanders; Bill McKamey; Cason Carter; Aaron Massey; Steve Soule and Fred Daniel III.  These men worked very hard to ensure all of the players had a good time at the event.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Thank you Tulsa!

It's amazing. As soon as Tulsans get wind of a need, they are calling, e-mailing, Tweeting and asking on Facebook how they can help.  We asked for water and Gatorade, and we got it by the truckful. Thank you, Tulsa for responding so quickly and generously to our request to the community to help us help the firefighters and others who desperately needed hydration. Sunday and Monday, you supplied us with FIFTEEN PALLETS of bottled water and Gatorade. For two days, we've had a steady stream of cars, SUVs and trucks coming to the Tulsa Area Command bringing water, Gatorade and more. Two of my coworkers, Arnie and Billy, (left) took a load to the State Emergency Command near Mannford today and I'm sure there will be another trip tomorrow. And that's Major Jim Taylor below, unloading supplies. Thank you,Tulsa for helping the helpers! 

Saturday, August 4, 2012

How you can help first responders

The Salvation Army will be accepting donations of non-perishable snacks such as granola bars and chips Mon, Aug. 6 to distribute to those organizations active in the wildfire response. We need snacks that don't melt in the heat. Please bring them by the The Salvation Army Area Command office at 924 S. Hudson (off 11th St. between Yale and Sheridan) between 9 AM and 4 PM. The Salvation Army will collect and then distribute donated items as needed to other organizations responding in the state. This is being requested by Oklahoma Emergency Management.


For the latest on how you can help, follow us on Facebook. 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Red Shield kid reunited with artwork

A few months ago, Advisory Board member LouAnn Potter Smith was at an auction to raise money for Tulsa Glassblowing Studio. She admired a glass sculpture in the auction and flipped it over. “ Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club”  was etched on the bottom. Kids from the Mabee Red Shield Boys and Girls Club took lessons from the studio last spring. Lou Ann was so excited that someone from our organization created the sculpture that she bought it and gave it to Major Jim Taylor to welcome him to Tulsa.

He asked me to photograph it for the blog, then decided to go one step further. Who created the striking piece?  I volunteered to find the artist and a few minutes later Jerome Smith, director of the Mabee Red Shield Boys and Girls Club walked into my office. I showed him the photograph and he shouted “That’s Charles’ sculpture!"  Charles is the son of Jerome and Jean Smith, Boys and Girls Club’s administrative assistant.