Friday, June 18, 2010

Sunbeam Family Services

I had a very special last couple of days. My good friend, Kelli Dupuy, is the Director of Marketing and Development for Sunbeam Family Services, one of Oklahoma City's oldest nonprofit social service agencies. They have been around since 1907! Kelli invited me to make a couple of appearances at Sunbeam related events taking place this past Wednesday and Thursday and I was excited to be able to go!

On Wednesday, we went to a monthly Parent Meeting at Emerson Early Head Start. Sunbeam Family Services operates the Early Head Start program at Emerson Alternative High School . While teen moms are going to school, they take care of their children on campus. They not only provide services to the children, but they also have a Family Advocate who works with the teen mothers to help the entire family. Sunbeam Family Services' goal at Emerson is to teach the mothers skills that they will need to care for their children, as well as encouraging them to go to school and GRADUATE! Last month, they had 15 graduating seniors! They are very proud of these girls – some of which became mothers as young as 12.

These children were absolutely adorable!While they were eating lunch, I spoke with the moms about being a courageous mother. I talked about being given statistics and refusing to let those decide for us the outcome of our lives and our children's' lives. For them, it's being told they will probably never graduate or get to attend college - or that their children will never be able to accomplish much. In my case it was the statistic that my daughter's life expectancy was 36. I talked about my decision to not accept that statistic - that, instead, I was going to do something about it and I tried to encourage them to do the same.I look like I'm leading them in "patty-cake" in this next picture!
Here are some pictures of me with the moms and their children.

With Ana, the director of the Emerson program.

Crowning a new little princess!
With all the moms and kids

With the staff

Signing autograph cards

Precious faces

With my friend, Kelli Dupuy

Donna Morgan dress provided by Dillards Penn Square

The next day, I went with Kelli to Sunbeam’s Annual Senior Companion Recognition Luncheon. This is a program where Senior Companion volunteers serve other seniors who need assistance to remain independent and in their homes. They receive in-depth training and provide inspiration, companionship and respite to frail elderly individuals and their caregivers. In the past 11 months, the Senior Companion volunteers provided 85,603 hours of service, which is valued at $1,455,251 (adult sitter services average $17 per hour in Oklahoma). For the Companions they are not just serving, but they are receiving as well. As Kelli puts it: "Our volunteers are seniors who are sick of watching “The Price is Right” and sitting in their jammies. They want to give back. They want to make a difference!". And they certainly have! They become a member of the family. They give caregivers a break, the clients get something to look forward to, and the volunteer has a sense of purpose! These are wonderfully compassionate people!
When I first came up onto the stage after being introduced, they were all sweet enough to sing the happy birthday song to me. As of yesterday, I am 29-years-old and wondering how that happened! I said a few words to welcome everyone to the luncheon and thanked them for their selflessness and service. Once lunch was served I walked around and signed autograph cards and took pictures with many of the volunteers. I also had the pleasure of watching a dance group called "The Older and Bolder Dancers"! All of the members are over the age of sixty.

My friend, Kelli Dupuy
With Kelli's intern, Brian
Antonio Melani blouse and skirt provided by Dillards Penn Square
I had a wonderful time and was grateful for the opportunity to attend these two wonderful events. Kelli called it "Bring Your Friend to Work Day". Kelli, I'm up for anything you want to throw my way! I am so glad I could help out!

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