Thursday, August 29, 2013

Youth Football Begins at Tulsa area Boys & Girls Clubs!

 Boys & Girls Clubs offer enriching after school activities to Tulsa area youth

 In addition to great after school activities, the Boys & Girls Club of Metro Tulsa offer a wide range of sports activities for children. 

Right now, we have football and cheerleading happending at our 3 urban Clubs.

At Mabee Red Shield, it's the Cowboys, with teams from 1st and 2nd grade (the Mighty Mites) all the way to 6th.

West Mabee Club is the Panthers and North Mabee is the Mustangs.

Check out these great action shots from last Saturday's game on the 24th.

The 3rd grade Cowboys vs the Trojans; a 25-0 win for the Cowboys!   Go Cowboys!

I love little kids in little uniforms!

To find out about upcoming sports and activies, you can follow each Club on their own Facebook page!

Viva la sports!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

TV Dreams Turn Into Reality Through The Most Amazing Race

Tulsa to host the Salvation Army's Most Amazing Race, June 2014

 I’ll admit I watch a lot of television. While on maternity leave, I got addicted to the Food Network. I tried to create the same recipes I saw on my favorite shows, but my entree didn’t quite look the same as Bobby Flay’s dish. I also can’t sew, sing, dance (at least not very well) and I have no aspirations to put my children in any pageants. I wouldn’t make it out in the wild very long. The chances for me to be on a reality show are slim to none. 

But the one show that I would want to participate in is CBS’s “The Amazing Race.” I love this show because contestants get to do some unique “tasks” while seeing some beautiful places around the world. Now, The Salvation Army is giving Tulsans an opportunity to turn their TV dreams into reality during The Most Amazing Race, a new event coming to downtown in June 2014!  

A scavenger hunt-adventure style race, The Most Amazing Race is a popular fundraising event for Salvation Army organizations throughout the United State, such as Minneapolis, Fort Lauderdale, Pittsburgh and Raleigh. Now, we’re bringing it here.    

Logo provided by GuRuStu Group

Patterned after CBS’s “The Amazing Race,” teams of 2 will be tasked with physical and mental challenges as they “race” throughout downtown – including challenges in Tulsa’s most popular areas such as the Blue Dome District, Brady District, and other downtown locations. The purpose of the event is to highlight local amenities and features while also educating the public about the Salvation Army’s programs and services—all while having tons of fun.

The Most Amazing Race combines physical tasks, such as obstacle courses and sports engagement, with mental tasks such as following directions, solving puzzles or overcoming common fears. Teams and volunteers won’t know what’s included in the challenges until race day. They could be tasked to learn a cheerleading or dance routine or make a recipe in the Center of Hope’s kitchen. To make sure the race isn’t easy on anyone, participants will also be faced with detours throughout the event where they’ll have to choose between two challenges.

Teams will pay a registration cost and then be required to raise a modest amount of funds to participate in the race. The winning team will win a grand prize, while the top fundraising teams will receive prizes and special advantages throughout the race. Corporate sponsors will have the unique opportunity to create a special challenge in the race.

All money raised from the Most Amazing Race will go to the Center of Hope, the largest homeless shelter in northeast Oklahoma.

Participants interested can stay current on details through the race- specific Facebook page, just search for “The Most Amazing Race Tulsa.”

I’m so excited to be a part of this unique fundraiser; it's a chance to make your reality T.V. dreams come true, right here in Tulsa! Stay tuned!


Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Christmas Spirit

I know it is only August, don't worry I haven't completely lost my mind. However, the last week or so has really gotten me into the full fledged Christmas spirit. This is my 5th Christmas at The Salvation Army and most of our blog readers know by now that it is more than just an "assistance program" around here.  It is sort of like the circus comes to town for about 2 months, camps out in my office and won't leave.

Volunteering in the Toy Shop!
We are already handing out Christmas assistance registration appointments.  These 3,960 slots represent 3,960 Tulsa families and we will set down with each one, review their situation and then determine if they are eligible for assistance. In order to do all this we start in August. So, in my line of work the "holiday season" starts in August and ends in January.  I have adapted but I don't understand why I can't put up a tree or hang stockings until Thanksgiving, by then Christmas is almost over!

In the last few weeks I have worked on projects regarding kettles, toy drives and food drives.

My Mom and I volunteered together
last Christmas!
I say all this to ask you this question, when does Christmas start for you? Are you already buying stocking stuffers, planning holiday meals or most importantly thinking about how you can give back this year? We would love to have you join our team and our needs are great. You can host a toy drive, canned food drive or volunteer to ring bells! Join us in the Christmas Joy Center to help us sort Angel Tree bags, work in the Toy Shop or stock our food baskets.  We have so much for everyone. Holiday Volunteer Dates have already been posted.

Here is a promise from me, if you volunteer this Christmas you will automatically feel more blessed than ever, and even if you already love Christmas you will love it more than you thought possible.  Maybe you will love it so much you decide to start early every year like I do. We can put up our August Christmas trees together.


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Back to School: Volunteer Needs

School is in session! Hearing this is music to any parent’s ears, to students…not so much. 

As we gear down and start getting our Boys & Girls Club members into a new routine it’s important to start establishing good habits. 

One habit that proves to be highly effective to improve students’ learning and retention ability is to have a study buddy or a homework helper to assist in what kids sometimes view as the mundane task of doing homework.  Study buddies or homework helpers are volunteers who assist our club members with homework assignments at any of our 6 Boys & Girls Club locations.
 A study buddy can help a student in many ways from just letting the child read out loud to you to you to reviewing basic math problems. As a volunteer tutor you can help as much or as little as you are comfortable with! 

There are lots of benefits for kids who have a study buddy!
•    Fewer distractions then in a traditional classroom.
•    Able to focus on a specific area of interest
•    Helps build confidence and self-esteem. Perhaps the single most important factor in learning.
•    Catch-up sometimes kids miss things in class, having a homework helper is the perfect way to review materials.
•    SHYNESS! Sometimes a kid who is shy will back away from asking questions in a classroom, having a tutor who is there just to help them makes it easier to ask questions.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Back to School!

Some of our Boys & Girls Club kids were selected from each of our 6 area Clubs to go on a Back to School shopping spree, on August 1st! Thanks to Target and Academy Sports for the gift cards and shopping help! We so appreciate your generosity!

Picking out uniforms!


What a haul!

Checking out at Target

Yay for post-shopping snacks!

Popcorn makes us happy!

A tired shopper is done for the day

Yay Target!

Silly kids are happy for new school supplies!

 Looks like these kiddos are ready for school! 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Pancake Breakfast Reveals Clubs’ Impact on Youth

An early morning United Way fundraising event gives us an inside view of the Boys & Girls Clubs in action...

Getting up at 4:30am to flip pancakes for a bunch of kids at the Broken Arrow Boys & Girls Club was something that didn’t really appeal to me. Don’t get me wrong: I love pancakes, sausage and kids. It was the 4:30am wake-up call that hurt.

We were having a pancake breakfast for Club members to raise money for the United Way. The kids started arriving at 7am, so we had to start cooking early. The aroma of pancakes and sausages attracted three young girls that we couldn’t get out of the kitchen. But while they enjoyed hanging out with the “older girls,” we learned a lot about their summer experience at the Club.

12-year-old Corrin, 10-year-old Madeline and 9-year-old Isabella never met before this summer. They are different ages and go to different schools. But they say they’re now friends for life and don’t look forward to saying good-bye to their summer at the Club.
“I will have to bring a lot of Kleenex next Friday, our last day,” says Corrin.
“Yeah, these people are like family to me,” says Isabella.
“These people are my family,” Corrin says.

Yet, they’ve only known each other for a few months. The girls say the experiences they’ve shared and the day-to-day conversations and interactions have made the summer of 2013 one to remember. For Corrin, the best part of summer camp was going horseback riding at Sequoyah Stables. Isabella enjoyed going to Incredible Pizza while Madeline loved Frontier City Amusement Park.
After cooking about 100 pancakes, I took a peek inside the Club’s gymnasium and started to understand why these kids were having so much fun. The kids were in different groups: some were taking turns shooting baskets. The smaller kids hopped on scooters and played chase on the other side of the gym. Some of the girls sat in the stands talking to each other. I counted about seven different groups doing different things, but all had one thing in common: they were smiling, having a good time and were entertained.

Thanks to me and a few of my co-workers, they were also full of pancakes and sausage.

I often talk to people about what our Boys & Girls Clubs do for our kids, but I don’t always get a chance to see that in action. Getting a glimpse of why Corrin, Madeline and Isabella say this was “the best summer ever” made that 4:30am wake-up call not so bad after all.



Thursday, August 1, 2013

Voices of The Salvation Army

What do our voices reveal to a listener?  Do we sound friendly and empathetic or rushed and annoyed?  In this age of technology many business transactions are handled by phone.  Most times we know very little about the person at the other end of the line,and our voices play a large part in the message being conveyed.  In my position, one of my responsibilities is to receive credit card donations by phone, and occasionally I recognize a repeat name or voice almost like a past acquaintance.  A few weeks ago a gentleman called in to make a donation and we talked a little about the unusual spelling of his first name.  From his voice, I could tell that he friendly, elderly, and from Oklahoma and from my voice, he must have thought I was friendly at least.  About two weeks later, the gentleman called again to make another donation and I recognized his name which seemed to please him although he sounded a little melancholy.  He noted, “You remembered me from the last time we talked.”  We visited briefly about the strange Oklahoma weather, and then ended the call.  Last week, the gentleman called to make another donation and specifically asked for me. This time he remembered my name.  Of course, I recognized his name and voice once again.
He started the conversation by saying, “The Lord has blessed me and I want to share my blessing with you.” 
 He made his donation as usual, but then he started to tell me that he had lost his wife about eight months ago and although he had kids and grandkids he felt like a part of him was missing.   “She was the love of my life and I miss her so much.  People tell me this hurt will eventually end and I keep wondering when.”  My heart was breaking listening to his story.  I just hoped my voice conveyed the compassion I felt at that moment.  I told him if ever he wanted to talk to someone he could call me with or without a donation.  He said, “Thank you; I’ll remember that.”  I haven’t heard from him since then.

When we answer our phones, many times the calls are routine, but every-once-in-a while we encounter someone who needs to hear a genuine, “have a nice day, “ or, “we appreciate your donation,” or simply a genuine, “thank you.”  Our voices need to convey those words with sincerity because they do make an impression on those at the other end of the line.  It might make the difference between calling back with another gift to support the work of The Salvation Army or never hearing from them again, or possibly calling back to hear that someone remembered them.

Donor Services Assistant