Doing Our Part For The Future of Oklahoma Education


Like many of you, Serve More staff and volunteers have watched the last several weeks of political news unfold here in Oklahoma. Educators have finally had enough of working with shrinking budgets.. Today, across the state and in all of the communities we serve, teachers and administrators have walked out and begun to march on the Capitol to demand action. 

And just like many of you as well, we've asked ourselves: "How can we help? How can we serve?" Apart from being parents, teachers, and citizens ourselves, Serve More volunteers and staff know that we can leverage our expertise in neighborhood renewal to give educators every possible tool they can use to invest in our children and serve the future of Oklahoma.

So, today we're announcing School Projects — a way for classroom teachers and school administrators to request the help of Serve More Volunteers. 

We're already in the planning stages of some playground renewal projects with our friends at the Moore Public Schools Foundation but we want to do more. We want to serve and love our teachers and students by helping to prepare classrooms, to renew playgrounds, and to create innovative learning environments with ideas such as outdoor classrooms, learning gardens, and the like.

Soon, we will begin taking applications from educators and nominations from neighbors. But we'll need to be ready to buy paint, lumber, and supplies to pull these projects off. So if you'd like to chip in a small donation, we'll use it to renew classrooms, playgrounds, and campuses in central Oklahoma this year. Like any other effort, we can do more together than we ever could apart!

Help us do this part. Donate today and join us this summer to volunteer. 

Janettee & Nathan

Early last month, Janettee reached out to Serve More with a desperate request. She and her husband Nathan had been given an ultimatum to make repairs on their home or suffer criminal prosecution and eviction. Old, rotting siding, warping facia boards, and peeling paint had caught the attention of city inspectors. So for nearly a year, they'd been trying to make repairs to their home that would stop the code violation citations from the city. Then, inspectors gave them a deadline of July 27th to make all the needed repairs and paint. 

With two small kids and what seemed like never enough time and never enough money, they had been looking for some help to stop the tickets. 

Look at these photos from the day we first met Janettee & Nathan:

Few people realize this but when you live in a city, you live under municipal codes such as "No Deferred Maintenance." That means missing siding or peeling paint can earn you a citation — a ticket you must pay, just like a speeding ticket. But what happens if you don't have the cash or supplies to make those repairs right away? Or working two or more jobs means it's tough to fit that project in to your schedule? Well, the tickets continue to come.

That's exactly what happened to this family. Several tickets in, this situation became a disaster. See, after issuing several citations, city officials can write an eviction notice or threaten criminal prosecution. Since Janettee and Nathan didn't have the cash, supplies, or time to make the repairs, they now faced arrest for their mounting tickets or worse, being kicked out of their home with their two kids. 

But there's hope. 

This is why we launched our Neighborhood Renewal program — to provide critical home repairs to families facing eviction or unsafe living conditions. Not everyone has a neighbor who can help or even wants to help families like this. Jeanettee & Nathan's neighborhood is made up largely of elderly folks and single moms. So Serve More Volunteers can step up and be great neighbors to these folks!

Check out the finished product once Serve More Volunteers fixed the siding and painted:

It's very likely that you and I both know what it's like to try to do a project for a while and have it just constantly escape us. But when that project getting done is the difference between you going to jail or continuing to provide for your kids, you need help.

Why give to Serve More? Why volunteer to love your neighbors? Because there are neighbors suffering disasters alone when all they need is a few pairs of hands and some donated materials. We must remember — in this city, we are all neighbors. 

Nathan and Janettee with their two kids in front of their completely renewed home. Serve More Volunteers were able to correct all the code violations that threatened the family's eviction. 

Nathan and Janettee with their two kids in front of their completely renewed home. Serve More Volunteers were able to correct all the code violations that threatened the family's eviction. 

The Final Piece of A Home

Close your eyes and imagine something. Think about your home and try to make a list in your head about everything in your home—every device, piece of clothing, tool, and toy. Now count the doors—yep, the doors, and the windows, ceiling fans, appliances, and furniture. Finally, imagine all of that gone and you're left with the task of replacing it all—often from that list in your head—with a set amount of money that will undoubtedly be too little.

Many of our neighbors faced that exact reality in the years since the 2013 Tornadoes in South OKC & Moore. Maybe YOU are reading this and that is EXACTLY what you had to do! The fact is that rebuilding a house after a disaster is one thing but rebuilding a home is sometimes another thing altogether. The list is incomplete, the money isn't enough, or there's simply no way to replace somethings that were lost. 

We’re getting our hands dirty and planting flowerbeds at homes rebuilt after the tornadoes.

But as neighbors, we want to love and serve. We want to make a house into a home again. So we're getting our hands dirty and planting flowerbeds at homes rebuilt after the tornadoes. Our hope is that we can give our neighbors one of the final pieces of their home. We want to bring beauty where there is pain; some emotional healing where there is hurt.

So which are you? A neighbor who had to rebuild your home after the tornadoes? Or a neighbor who wants to love and serve others by helping plant a flowerbed? Find extra information below and buttons to request a flowerbed or volunteer to help build one! 

Homeowner Details:

  • Flowerbeds are offered free of charge thanks to Rotary Clubs Western Oklahoma Dist.
  • Flowerbeds are planted at homes that were destroyed or received major damage in 2013 or 2015 tornadoes.
  • Beds are designed by a landscape architect and will be a mixture Oklahoma-native flowers and ornamental grasses.

Volunteer Details:

  • Flowerbed Projects are part of our monthly Serve More Saturday event where you can volunteer as a Project Volunteer.
  • Volunteers must be 14 years or older to work at project sites.