Friday, June 29, 2012

Feeding Children

While on the treadmill, I occasionally watch the “Making a Difference” segments on the NBC Nightly News.  Story ideas, which could be adapted or expanded here, are emailed to the office to share.

Because of the Good Samaritan Law passed in 1996, restaurants can donate unused food for feeding children and adults.  In 2004, the Darden Harvest Program was created.  Darden owns Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Longhorn Steakhouse, and other brands.  Yum Foods, e.g., Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and Kentucky Fried Chicken, also participates in a similar program.  Other communities’ restaurants might participate also.

“Turning excess restaurant food into kids’ meals”

Rock Center   |  April 25, 2012

Making a Difference: Turning excess restaurant food into kids' meals

By some estimates, up to 40 percent of all edible food goes to waste. One large restaurant chain with 1,900 locations, Darden Restaurants, is doing its part to make sure the leftovers don’t end up in a dumpster. Each of its restaurants has a program in place to donate its excess food to food banks, after school programs and charitable organizations. Rock Center Special Correspondent Chelsea Clinton reports.  

Ret. 5-8-12

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Values Resource

Values Resource

This is one of my favorite accidental website finds.  Not confined to a specific culture or religion, these values reflect universally the best in behaving toward and caring about others (including ourselves). Choose the ones you prefer.  You be the judge.

A few of the site’s professional formats—
  • Media—billboards, TV spots, podcasts, and radio
  • Value lessons by topic with a definition and a visual for each
  • Quotes
  • Free "values" e-cards
  • Widgets
  • Printable versions of the posters

A companion site...

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Free Things to Do – Part I

Mentors and parents need free activities for kids so here are a few. Share what is free in your area.

Kids Bowl Free                        

This is a national program in which over 900 bowling alleys allow kids to bowl two free games every day all summer long!  Youths 15 and under must register. Thirteen Oklahoma towns currently participate. A link is available to help you get a bowling alley near you to participate as well as one for a classroom supply grant program for schools.  Let’s go Oklahoma!
Ret. 6-26-12

AMF  Summer Bowling Unplugged 

Register online to receive vouchers for free bowling.  (Only five centers were listed for a 100-mile radius of Oklahoma City.)
Ret. 6-26-12

Lowe’s Build and Grow Program   

Every other Saturday, keep apron, build and keep items, project changes every clinic, nationwide!

This is such a terrific idea! Technologically challenged—as usual, I had to call Lowe’s national number. Tim, the associate who helped me, had just participated in a Build and Grow Program last Saturday. He enthusiastically described how much fun it was for employees, children, and families. As advertised, kids do receive an apron with some tools, and they build a kit featured for sale on the website. Manual dexterity does not matter as long as a child can bang with the hammer. (Bring your cellphones with video ready.) Tim helped build the Madagascar race car, which everyone recognizes from the movie.

Children must be registered online; consult your local Lowe’s. The national Lowe’s website advertised the next free kids’ clinic for Saturday, July 14, 10 a.m., to build the Kung Fu Panda Spinning Attack.
Ret. 6-26-12

Home Depot Kids Workshop

First Saturday of every month; take your child to his or her clinic and then take your adult clinic or stay and participate as a family (Mentors would want to be right there enjoying the achievement and learning as would most parents.) 

• FREE hands-on workshops designed for children ages 5 - 12 offered the 1st Saturday of
every month at all The Home Depot stores between 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
• Workshops teach children do-it-yourself skills, tool safety and instill a sense of pride
and accomplishment.
• All kids get to keep their craft and receive a FREE Kids Workshop Apron, commemorative
pin and certificate of achievement.
Ret. 6-26-12

Free Day at the National Parks

Photo, Chickasaw National Recreation Area, 

The recent one was June 9th, but the next free day will be in the fall.  Fortunately many of the national sites in Oklahoma and surrounding states are free or free in certain areas.  Often at the National Park Service website, a youth-oriented document or learning guide can be downloaded, e.g., the Junior Ranger Activity Book PDF for Ft. Smith and a lesson plan or videos for the Trail of Tears.   Check on fees even on “free” days; the National Memorial Museum in Oklahoma City does not receive federal or state funds so it is not included in the NPS free day events.  Each state’s NPS section also features multiple layers, which can be checked on and off for viewing, such as National Register historical places, American battlefields, and others. 

Oklahoma’s major listings are:
  • Chickasaw National Recreation Area, Sulphur
  • Fort Smith National Historic Site, Ft. Smith AR, OK
  • Oklahoma City National Memorial, Oklahoma City
  • Santa Fe National Historic Trail, CO, KS, MO, NM, OK
  • Trail of Tears National Historic Trail, AL, AR, GA, IL, KY, MO, NC, OK, TN
  • Washita Battlefield National Historic Site, Cheyenne

Ret. 6-26-12

Barnes and Noble Free Book

Printable reading log, after reading and documenting eight books, turn in and choose a free book; eligibility:  child up to sixth grade
Ret. 6-26-12


Bass Pro Shop’s Family Summer Camp

Every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday, June 19-July 15, 1-5 P.M., free photos, family activities, crafts, and workshops!  For the Oklahoma City location, the list is extensive with archery, dogs in the outdoors, catch and release ponds, etc., all by specific schedules.  SEE the website.

Children receive a lanyard and free pin for every workshop they complete.  (Take your camera.)

Activities vary by store location; Broken Arrow and Oklahoma City have stores, but you might search nearby border states.  In some locations, some food such as S’mores may be available.

On the website, click on “Stores” and choose which location or use a zip code.  Free activities happen throughout the year!

Mark your calendars for the next year!

National Parks Again

Next free day at National Parks is in the autumn.  Watch the NPS website for more information.

Original Listing Source:
Ret. 5-25-12


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Mentor Focus on Linda Huey

Mentor of the Quarter, PAL Program of Volunteers for Youth

The PAL Program of Volunteers for Youth names a Mentor of the Quarter throughout each school year. 

The Mentor of the Quarter for the end of the school year is Linda Huey, who is in one of their longest-term matches (6 years) with a very, very shy young lady.

Every year Linda has struggled with trying to bring her mentee out of her shell and has doubted every year that the student would want to be re-matched. Every year, however, this mentee has stated she does want Linda to return and she has done so.

Recently, Linda became discouraged to the point of almost giving up. Before she did, however, she came to the Volunteers for Youth office to speak with Cindy, the PAL Director. Cindy and Mendy, the Executive Director, talked with Linda at length that day about the probability that she is indeed making progress and the fact that she is undoubtedly making a difference in this young lady’s life. She was given some additional tips, tools, and games to further draw out her student.

Not only did she seek out this guidance, but she also attended the very next monthly meeting offered for PAL mentors and gained further advice and encouragement from the other mentors present. Linda exemplifies the kind of commitment a mentor must make to a child, and she demonstrated how to handle periods of discouragement.

We salute Linda Huey for this and for her long-term dedication to her student.

Melynda Stone, Executive Director, Volunteers for Youth...because they're worth it!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Mentor Focus on Kyle Dahlem

Update: In July 2015, Kyle Dahlem was listed for five years of Power Hour reading/mentoring program at FaithWorks of the Inner City. We are so proud of Kyle! Although she has many important accomplishments in her work and leadership at the Oklahoma Regents for Higher Education and The DaVinci Institute as well as other community service, we believe her one-to-one mentoring makes her ripple perpetual and ever-widening.
Kyle Dahlem

Thanks to Kyle Dahlem for sharing her ongoing mentoring story.

Kyle is a trustee of the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence. Spending forty-two years in education, she retired as Vice Chancellor for Administration from the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education (OSRHE). Kyle and her husband John have been married for 50+ years.

Kyle’s Mentoring at FaithWorks, Oklahoma City

Three years ago, I heard Sally Goins, Executive Director of Faithworks of the Inner City (, tell of her work with students at Shidler Elementary School in Oklahoma City, one of the poorest areas in, not just Oklahoma City but , all of Oklahoma.

Sally, a retired Edmond school teacher, was so inspiring as she told her story of volunteering years before at the Jesus House, which led to her mission of serving students far from her home, that I was moved to respond.

I joined her volunteers over two years ago and was assigned to mentor Joanna. Oh, how I have come to love that child.  Every Thursday during the school year, I meet with her to read and do homework.  I have visited her home and met her loving parents.  From second, third and fourth grade, Joanna and I have worked together.

During the summer, I take Joanna and her two sisters to the library every week to read.  I have been blessed to have had this opportunity to add this special child and her family to my life.

Joanna is a bright 10-year-old.  She isn’t reading up to grade level yet, but it won’t be long.  Speaking two languages, she is smart enough to know that education is very important to her future.

I love Joanna and the opportunity to mentor a leader in the 21st Century.

Kyle Dahlem
Executive Director, DaVinci Institute
Email 5-22-12

Successful mentors, coming from every background, have diverse interests and experiences. Whether a mentor can understand fourth grade math or not is irrelevant. Spending time with, being a friend to, and listening to a child really matter. Share your mentor stories.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Video PR

Telling the story of mentoring to recruit volunteers and to solicit funding or in-kind contributions is just as important as a school’s capturing the hearts of the private, public, and business communities to seek mentoring partnerships at its site.  Photographs, particularly videos, are essential, but the cost of producing videos professionally has been prohibitive.

Today’s discussion involves samples of video along with some ideas and excerpts from conversations. (All of us have clever, adaptable ideas!)

Video 1

Jordan Witt-Araya sent the following mentoring video. The council plans to make two more.  In this way, a handful of videos will reflect the diversity of the council’s mentors and mentees. Jordan and a group of his friends make the videos using Canon and Nikon cameras and Final Cut Pro for editing.  Emails, 6-4-12 & 6-5-12

Jordan Witt-Araya  M.A., Conexiones/Planner, Community Service Council

Successful students, healthy families, engaged communities

Tulsa Area Community Schools Initiative (TACSI) is a program of the Community Service Council, a United Way partner agency

Video 2 & Idea

Melynda Stone sent the following example of a Movie Maker video she made and showed at the Volunteers for Youth’s spring Mentor Recognition Luncheon.

At the luncheon themed "Believe, Achieve, Succeed," every mentor received a silicone wrist band with that sentiment.  The speaker was Claremore Police Officer Robin Blair, the school resource officer for Claremore Public Schools.  She noted the dedication she sees from the mentors and applauded their efforts to help young people "believe, achieve, succeed."  Email, 6-13-12

Video 3

Melynda had a video produced professionally in 2008, the year that Larry Parker was named the first Boren Mentoring Initiative Mentor of the Year.  The video, however, cost $1,000, which a local credit union, the Claremore Lions Club, and the area prevention resource center underwrote.  [This has an effective script format for featuring one mentor and one mentee. ‘Applause for Mendy!]

Flip Cameras & Techsoup

At a Tulsa Community Foundation meeting recently, Melynda learned that a "flip camera" is a digital video camera/editing software package you can purchase.  She looked on Techsoup, but unfortunately they were currently not offered.  Techsoup offers nonprofits free or inexpensive technical software and equipment.  She has also begun to use Microsoft Movie Maker, which came loaded on her computer.  It's easy to make a video with still photos from that program.  Email, 6-13-12

Melynda Stone, Executive Director, Volunteers for Youth...because they're worth it!

Another Online Resource

Annie Macumber, an Oklahoma City Arts Council staff liaison for the Community Arts Program and also an AmeriCorps volunteer, produced her own professional-looking video for the Community Arts Showcase at the Oklahoma City Festival of the Arts in April.  Her resource was One True Media.     Conversation 4-26-12

Another Idea

Janet King, assistant principal and current interim principal of Columbus Elementary, and I were discussing a recruiting video.  After sharing some strategies of Oklahoma City Whiz Kids’ founder Masie Bross, Janet mentioned the capability of producing her school’s own video with knowledge and skill from herself and her talented staff.  If a school lacks talent, perhaps the district could produce a video for each school wanting a mentoring program, but it should be school-specific with scripting and production input from the staff members, who really know the children, the parents, and situations firsthand.  A generic mentoring video for a school district will not generate the impact that individual schools’ videos will.  Conversation 6-20-12

Adaptation of One of Masie’s Strategies

Years ago, Masie Bross researched a particular neighborhood and case studies of individual students and then had the case studies read to a group of people.  The adaptable idea is to research and film briefly the neighborhood, including economic and census statistics if applicable, the school, and children’s stories as the focus.  If real students or actual names cannot be used, then perhaps teachers or child “actors” can tell or read the case stories.  Conversation 6-12-12

For example, Mark, a seven-year-old boy with ADHD, comes from a single-parent home.  He has three younger brothers and one sister.  His mother does not have much time for him, and he must help with his siblings.  His reading level is below first grade.  Mark suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder because his mother’s last live-in boyfriend, a heroin addict who was often arrested and handcuffed in front of the family, was shot while Mark, huddled in a corner, watched.  Mark loves OKC Thunder, and he hopes his mentor will just hang out with him and talk to him about basketball.  Can you read with Mark about basketball and occasionally shoot a few hoops?  (Fictional person based upon facts)

The Intended Audience & Nature of the Video

Different audiences require different persuasion.  The ease in making presentations and multiple price options allow creation of an arsenal of focused videos.  Do you want to recruit a business, a church group, or a community to mentor a school or participate in an existing mentoring program?  What do you want from that group—volunteers, supplies, money, or occasional projects?  What approach will engage a group?  If someone asks a business to support a mentoring program, what is the cost versus benefit for the business, which loses productivity in multiple ways when an employee is gone?  What attracts religious groups?  Why should an entire community become involved?  How is recruiting in a small town different?  Do mentors need to know math above fourth grade?  How do we show positive results, and how do we effectively convey gratitude or celebrate service?

[We need to collect hard, objective data, not just objective surveys, to prove value and improve our practices.  Longitudinal, standardized data must begin to be collected even by smaller mentoring organizations.]

Other Possible Resources

Post-Secondary Education 

If a college, university, or career tech is nearby, ask the department chair or an instructor if students can produce videos for your group.  (Ask to let your mentees and mentors help if time allows.)


For promoting corporate mentoring and/or for National Mentor Month, ask corporations with the capacity to produce in-house  videos, especially about their own mentoring programs.  These can be posted on YouTube but also ask for a DVD.


Ask a photography or video club in your area to volunteer to produce a video.


Sponsor or co-sponsor a community contest for the best videos promoting what you need as generally outlined in the contest rules you create.  One of the requirements should be that a team must be composed of various ages so that collaboration and learning are reciprocal and creativity is limitless.  Winners can be announced at an organization’s next large meeting, a local chamber breakfast, a local festival, in the newspapers, online, etc.

Religious Groups 

If churches or synagogues participate in your school or mentoring program, ask the video staff to produce or help produce a video.


Give mentees disposable cameras or have them use their cellphone cams to take photos or videos at events and then use portions of their efforts.  List their names, e.g., Maria, Age 8, in the credits, of course! [Principal Cindi Hemm said that some of the poorest of the poor at Tulsa’s Eugene Field Elementary School had iPhones and iPads so her teachers use the technology in the classroom.  Conversation 6-15-12]

Happy News

Tulsa Community Foundation has selected Volunteers for Youth as one of four area nonprofits that will have its website totally re-designed for free.  This is going to require a lot of work on Melynda’s part, but it's going to be so awesome!  Melynda Stoner   Email, 6-13-12

Next week will feature activities along with some recognition and mentoring stories.

Share your suggestions on PR, marketing, video resources, recruiting, and other topics.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

First Post Redux

The purpose of Oklahoma Mentor is to offer a searchable-by-topic resources for mentoring in Oklahoma. Our posts come from within and outside of our state.

We invite guest posts, focus upon programs, celebrate fantastic ideas, and offer information for adapting ideas or sparking new conversations within your community.


The David and Molly Boren Mentoring Initiative