Helping Hands - Tulsa World: Local

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Helping Hands
Volunteers come from all different backgrounds for all kinds of reasons
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Helping Hands
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Mildred Buffington, a 96-­‐‑year-­‐‑old volunteer at the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma,
peels potatoes in the kitchen. Volunteers like Buffington do all sorts of work for all sorts of
agencies and come from all different backgrounds. STEPHEN PINGRY / Tulsa World
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Posted: Sunday, November 24, 2013 12:00 am | Updated: 5:26
pm, Sun Nov 24, 2013.
By Staff Reports |
1 comment
Volunteers do all sorts of work for all sorts of
agencies. They come from all different
backgrounds and bring with them all kinds
of motivations.
But they seem to have one important thing in
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"ʺWe just want to help a li]le,"ʺ explained
Mildred Buffington. "ʺWe want to make a
difference."ʺ
Diane Powell stands in the food pantry at
Restore Hope Ministries in west Tulsa on
Thursday. Powell and her family volunteer
every Thanksgiving at Restore Hope, which
distributes free holiday food baskets. JOHN
CLANTON / Tulsa World
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Without her and thousands of people like
her, nonprofit groups and charities couldn'ʹt
do what they do. As Thanksgiving week
begins, the Tulsa World sought several local
volunteers to ask, simply, why do they do it?
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She couldn'ʹt talk long. Mildred Buffington
had a pile of potatoes to peel and only a
couple of hours to get it all done.
"ʺI don'ʹt want to get in trouble,"ʺ she said, "ʺand
have them dock my pay."ʺ
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But she can'ʹt keep a straight face.
"ʺOh, who am I kidding? What pay?"ʺ
Like thousands of Tulsans, Buffington asks
for nothing in return even as she does a lot of
hard work that nobody else would
particularly want to do.
The obvious question, for her and all
volunteers like her, is simply why?
Why do it?
"ʺI have the time and the energy to do it,"ʺ
Buffington answered, adding that she'ʹs 96
years old but still living alone. "ʺThe real
question is: Why wouldn'ʹt I do something
like this?"ʺ
After retiring in 1979, she spent several years
as a volunteer for a hospital in California but
wanted to do something different when she
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moved to Tulsa in 2008.
"ʺThere are people who don'ʹt have enough, even here in our land of plenty, right here in
Tulsa,"ʺ she said, explaining why she decided to volunteer for kitchen duties at the
Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma.
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"ʺI do a lot of chopping, peeling, cu]ing up and de-­‐‑boning. Whatever they need me to do, I do
it."ʺ
For more information about the Community Food Bank, call 918-­‐‑585-­‐‑2800.
— MICHAEL OVERALL, World Staff Writer DIANE POWELL, RESTORE HOPE
More than 10 years ago, her father'ʹs Sunday school class used to collect donations for food
baskets at Restore Hope.
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Thanksgiving, with Diane Powell and her family tagging along.
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"ʺIt became a tradition every year for us,"ʺ she said. "ʺAfter you do it once, you say 'ʹOK. That
was great. Let'ʹs do it again.'ʹ "ʺ
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Sometimes they work the registration desk. Sometimes they hand out the sacks of groceries.
Sometimes they help carry the sacks to the parking lot.
Usually, there'ʹs enough people from Powell'ʹs family to do a li]le of everything.
Some of their favorite holiday memories come from Restore Hope.
"ʺI can still see my daughter si]ing on her grandmother'ʹs lap,"ʺ Powell said, "ʺdrawing smiley
faces on the paperwork as clients checked in."ʺ
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The daughter is now 20 years old and coming home from college to volunteer.
Along with other year-­‐‑round services, Restore Hope Tulsa provides school supplies and
Thanksgiving meals to needy families. For more information, call 918-­‐‑582-­‐‑5766.
918-252-4569
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— MICHAEL OVERALL, World Staff Writer HUGH BURLEIGH, REBUILDING TOGETHER TULSA
Hugh Burleigh'ʹs hands have worked on hundreds of homes in Tulsa for those in need.
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Burleigh, 85, leads a group of about 25 retired men who have volunteered with Rebuilding
Together Tulsa every Thursday for the last seven years.
This ambitious group of retirees has a special bond and invaluable skills. They weren'ʹt
content to sit and rest in retirement, so they started volunteering with local home-­‐‑building
groups more than 20 years ago.
Their willingness to tackle any project re-­‐‑siding houses, repairing structural damage, adding
wheelchair ramps has made them indispensable to Rebuilding Together Tulsa,
spokeswoman Kelly Hall said.
"ʺThey'ʹre all so skilled and so talented, we couldn'ʹt do what we do without them,"ʺ Hall said.
Together, they have tackled more than 140 houses for Rebuilding Together Tulsa.
Their bunch includes doctors, professors, scientists, a]orneys and engineers which keeps the
conversation while they work lively, Burleigh said.
"ʺNone of us come from the housing or construction trade,"ʺ he said.
Their skills developed as they continued volunteering and encountered all kinds of
home-­‐‑repair problems of needy Tulsans.
"ʺWe'ʹve seen it all,"ʺ he said. Plumbing disasters, cellars full of sand, repairs that went wrong.
The group likes the camaraderie of ge]ing together to help other people, Burleigh said.
For more information about Rebuilding Together Tulsa, call 918-­‐‑742-­‐‑6241.
— CARY ASPINWALL AND MIKE AVERILL, World Staff Writers
KEN KINNARD AND SHAWN DAYAN, IRON GATE
Engaged couple Ken Kinnard and Shawn Dayan'ʹs standing Saturday date is spent in the
kitchen at Iron Gate.
For the past two months, the Tulsa couple has been volunteering every Saturday, serving
meals, packing grocery bags and kids'ʹ backpacks to keep people in the community fed.
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"ʺWhen I heard what they do here, I said this is for me, I have to come,"ʺ she said.
But now, the couple said, it'ʹs about more than serving food it'ʹs making connections with
Iron Gate'ʹs clients and ge]ing to know their stories.
"ʺIt'ʹs a blessing for me,"ʺ said Kinnard, who was drafted out of Claremore High School to play
baseball for the Toronto Blue Jays.
"ʺWe try to greet everybody with smiles. You never know. They could be having a bad day
today, and when people see you smiling, it makes them want to smile. That light will
overcome that darkness."ʺ
When serving meals one Saturday, a client told Dayan it was the first hot meal she'ʹd had in a
week.
"ʺIf you can get yourself to the Gate, you'ʹre going to get yourself fed and you do not have to
be hungry,"ʺ she said.
And if you can make time to volunteer there, you'ʹll grow to love it, as Kinnard and Dayan
have, they said.
"ʺThere'ʹs nothing be]er than living your purpose through service,"ʺ Dayan said.
Want to volunteer at Iron Gate? Call (918) 359-­‐‑9007 or email [email protected]
— CARY ASPINWALL & MIKE AVERILL, World Staff Writers
How you can volunteer
If you'ʹre interesting in volunteering during the holidays or any time here are three things to
know:
I want to volunteer but I don't know where to start?
Check volunteertulsa.org to see which agencies are looking for volunteers right now.
Is it good to just show up at John 3:16 or a place like that on a holiday?
No. Call ahead and ask to talk to the "ʺvolunteer coordinator."ʺ
What are good volunteer opportunities for teenagers?
It depends on the teenager. Whatever your age, volunteer for a cause you feel passionate
about.
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To start volunteering, stop procrastinating
Pick up the phone. Or turn on the computer. Take the first step.
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"ʺI promise you, people are going to be glad to have you,"ʺ said Karen Dills, the volunteer
director for RSVP Tulsa.
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If you happen to be or, as Dills put it, "ʺif you'ʹre lucky enough to be"ʺ 55 or older, finding a
place to volunteer couldn'ʹt be simpler.
Just call Dills.
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"ʺI do a personal interview with every volunteer,"ʺ she said, "ʺso we can match your likes and
dislikes and your schedule."ʺ
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RSVP refers people to more than 200 nonprofits across the Tulsa area. But even if you'ʹre not
55, it'ʹs still pre]y easy to get started.
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Or, if you already have an agency in mind, simply call and ask to talk to the volunteer
coordinator.
"ʺLet them know ahead of time what your schedule is,"ʺ Dills said.
"ʺTell them what you'ʹre interested in and what you want to do. It'ʹs that easy."ʺ
And remember: Volunteering isn'ʹt a job. Nobody has to keep doing it.
"ʺYou'ʹre not ge]ing paid enough to be miserable,"ʺ Dills joked. "ʺThere are no hard feelings if
you say, 'ʹLook, this isn'ʹt for me. What else can I do?'ʹ "ʺ
For more information about RSVP, call 918-­‐‑280-­‐‑8656.
918-­‐‑280-­‐‑8656.
— MICHAEL OVERALL, World Staff Writer
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Ann McWhortor posted at 4:03 pm on Sun, Nov 24, 2013.
Posts: 495
When I read stories like this, telling people about the volunteers behind the
scenes that we never see, it just reaffirms that there are a lot more good
people in the world than there are bad.
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