The vocation of every man and woman is to serve humanity. -Leo Tolstoy

Posts Tagged ‘okc’

Calm Waters

In nonprofits on August 19, 2011 at 8:10 am

I appreciate organizations such as Calm Waters and CASA who trust volunteers to accomplish important tasks. This confidence in the abilities of “non-professionals” builds a large base of people who have practical skills while keeping the organizations costs remarkably low.

Calm Waters helps children and families in their grief journey caused by death, divorce or significant loss.

All  group sessions at Calm Waters are facilitated by trained volunteers guided by a licensed professional staff. These services are free of charge. When I visited with program director, Meribeth Govin, earlier this year I was struck by her warmth and passion for the work.

Parents going through divorce are increasingly court order to attend classes on parenting during divorce. Calm Waters provides these classes for a fee and have a difficult time keeping up with demand.

Find out how to contribute to the fine work of Calm Waters here.

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What OKC Needs

In nonprofits on August 18, 2011 at 8:01 am

In an earlier post I wrote about the effort to bring Breakthrough to Oklahoma City. These are some other types of nonprofits that OKC could benefit from.

Job training programs like these in Austin:

Artist collectives like these in Philadelphia:

Free “Schools” like these:
Whole Neighborhood Initiatives like these:
Artist Residencies like these:
In the future I will write about other types of organizations that I would like to see in Oklahoma.

CASA of Oklahoma County

In nonprofits on August 15, 2011 at 8:11 am

Serving as a CASA for children who are in DHS custody due to caretaker abuse or neglect is difficult and frustrating. In many cases there are few good options for stability during children’s time with DHS. I have been on my first case for only 45 days and because of these challenges I am sure that this will be a defining role in my life. It is an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of our most vulnerable children and I am thankful to be involved.

As a CASA I meet with everyone involved in the case including children, parents, social workers, therapists, foster parents, shelter workers, teachers, attorneys and other family members. I keep track of how the children are doing and advocate for their well being. This might mean making recommendations about their placement, schooling, therapy or parent’s treatment. The ultimate responsibility is helping the court to decide if and when they will be returned to their home of origin.

These children need more foster parents and they need more people to serve as CASA. To find out more about volunteering please visit the CASA of Oklahoma County website.

OVAC

In The arts on August 12, 2011 at 8:14 am

No organization does more for Oklahoma artists than the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition (OVAC). Since 1988 they have  developed unique programs that enable and encourage artists to create.

Looking at the things that OVAC does right could be instructive for any nonprofit:

  • Mission driven- their mission is present in all aspects of their work.
  • Large donor base- this allows them to remain free of the constraints sometimes imposed when an organization is over reliant on large donors.
  • Large volunteer base- the small staff (3.5) accomplishes a tremendous amount because so many people believe in OVAC.
  • Strong leadership- the board is committed to the organization and maintains a appropriate relationship with the executive director, Julia Kirt.
  • Strong Staff- OVAC retains good people for much longer than most nonprofits.

This list could be much longer. If you are at all interested in visual art and you live in Oklahoma there is no better way to show support than by joining OVAC.

Breakthrough

In Uncategorized on August 11, 2011 at 9:55 am

For the past four months an exploratory committee made up of Danne Johnson, Jackie Mania, Josh Harlow and myself has been working to bring Breakthrough to OKC. I am so excited about the potential impact on our community. From the Breakthrough website:

At 33 locations across the nation and abroad, Breakthrough Collaborative launches motivated middle-school students on the path to college and prepares older students for careers in education. A national nonprofit, Breakthrough Collaborative is devoted to preparing high-achieving middle-school students, most of whom are of color and from low-income families, to enter and succeed in college-preparatory high school programs. Breakthrough also recruits and trains outstanding high school and college students to become Breakthrough teachers and build an interest in careers as educators.

In June I was fortunate to visit Breakthrough Houston and was blown away by the work they are doing there. Even the highest achieving low income students in Oklahoma City graduate college at very low rates. Breakthrough can help to alter this trend and the lives of entire families.

If you would like to be involved in the effort to bring Breakthrough to OKC please contact me.

Why?

In Uncategorized on August 10, 2011 at 12:55 pm

Why am I writing a blog? This space is meant primarily as a place for me to record and share my thoughts on nonprofit organizations in Oklahoma City. I have been involved with a number of local nonprofits over the past eight years as a patron, volunteer, board and committee member, staff, consultant and user of services. Some of the organizations do amazing work while others fail both their mission and the public that they are entrusted to serve. I want to promote those organizations that are doing good work and contribute to a conversation about best practices.

Oh, and I love Oklahoma!

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