We received word early this week that one of our beloved, almost invisible to most, volunteers, Mike Dowd, past away after a long battle with cancer. Mike was a friend and neighbor to our family for 30 years. Late last year Mike contacted me about wanting to learn more about the Mental Health Association in Tulsa's work with housing, people who are homeless and mentally ill, and how he might be able to contribute. Mike went on a long tour of our housing followed by a offer to work on needed repairs in our apartments as a volunteer utilizing a lifetime of developed carpentry skills. At the Ritz Apartments, a recent acquisition needing a great deal of work, Mike completed work on a burned out room that was converted to a bedroom increasing the size of the apartment, as well as other significant improvements to the property. I am told that Mike was there working, often 7 days a week, getting to know many of the residents, offering them rides and assisting them in a variety of ways. When asked about news from doctor visits, Mike would avoid discussing what he had been told, pushing off the inquiries with a comment like, "let's not talk or think about that. That is why I am doing this so I don't have to think about what the doctor is telling me." Mike will be missed, and his wife, Pam, and boys Dustin and Brandon, should be very proud. We have decided that Mike should be this year's Bill Packard Housing Award winner for volunteer contributions to housing to be presented at this year's Annual Meeting and Award Celebration.
Lisa, a local transitional age youth, who has grown up in the state child welfare system, is taxing all of the various agencies, organizations, and people involved trying to help her. But if not us, then who? Where would this girl be? Sure it isn't easy, but it is worth it. I am so proud of all of our staff, the staff from Youth Services of Tulsa, and others who have pitched in to help. While difficult, trying, and definitely frustrating, let me remind all of us, that is why we exist and why we chose this line of work. As I like to say..."if it was easy, everyone would be doing it." Go Lisa, go staff!
I don't think we realize what an incredible city...no community, we live in where we live close together and we all know each other. As I like to say..."if you don't know them, you know someone who knows them." I was reminded how special our town is when I see volunteers who have been blessed with the gift of wealth and resources, who pitch in to raise money to help local non-profits be able to perform our work. Sometimes I hate it, but it takes money, and Tulsa is blessed with a special relationship between some of its most well-to-do citizens and its non-profit community. They care, they raise money, they give time, and they serve. We are blessed.
Connally Perry, one of our incredible employeeswho, posted an email showing communication from a church in town located near the Yale Ave. Apartments who was visited by a group of residents from the apartments who are helping trim their bushes at the church. He referred to the residents who performed the work as his heroes. Connally...you are one of my heroes. That is how we roll...
Last week I lost my cool and went off on one of our residents. I have tried to reach Greg to apologize, but have so far been unable to to reach him. I can't tell you how bad I feel about my behavior toward Greg, and pray some day we can be reconciled to each other. Greg, if you are reading this...I am so sorry. There was no excuse for my behavior. I want to also apologize to anyone associated with our organization in any way, and pledge to all of you that I will, by God's grace, never do anything like that again.