What’s your “thing”?

I’m writing this article with tears in my eyes and a smile on my face. Now some of you, mostly the male some of you’s, are thinking this is nothing new to you as you’ve seen the women in your life this way before. Some of you, the female some of you’s, are thinking about what my mascara must look like right now. The rest of you are thinking I might be a little off my rocker….no comment to that.

You see it’s time to start planning the annual Teacher Appreciation Luncheon for the educators in Frederick. It’s a great moment to honor them all, have a little fun and share a meal together. I have enjoyed the opportunity to participate for several years as a school board member but now I get to experience the planning part as the Chamber Director. I’m honored in both capacities for the opportunity. That makes me smile.

Here’s the part that brought the tears to my face. I sent out an email to both Jill Biggs and Dawn Mefford who are the main muscle behind this yearly event to start the planning. Jill and I spoke pretty quickly about a few of the details and she went right to work. In the back of my mind I was thinking that I didn’t want to bother Dawn with this right now, she has enough on her plate. (For those of you who don’t know, Dawn is battling breast cancer at the moment. I say at the moment because knowing Dawn, she will fight it swiftly and efficiently. Period.) I received an email back from her the next day, here’s where the tears kick in.

She asked me if we planned it for August whatever. If so, that’s the day of one of her treatments (radiation) and she can move it to another time. I’ll let that soak in. This woman is so committed to her volunteer work in our community that she is willing to move a treatment back in the day so she can help honor our educators. I won’t lie, “is she crazy?” shot through my head. But then I remembered who I was dealing with. Dawn was named one of Frederick’s Most Useful Citizens after all and that plaque isn’t just handed out to anybody. She volunteers so many places in our community, fundraises, helps others in times of need and fights passionately for what she believes in. If you’ve ever worked with her or against her, you know what I’m saying!

I’m honored to have her as a friend and a fellow volunteer in the community. I point this story out to you so that you’ll know the kind of people stepping up for our community. Granted and thankfully, we don’t have too many volunteers facing the obstacles that she is currently dealing with but we have many people who work all day, have families but still show up to volunteer for many good causes in Frederick. Many of these people inspire me to do better and be better for my community. Some of them I’ve known my whole life and I’ve watched them be amazing ambassadors for Frederick, a few I’ve just met and I’m thankful for their vision of what Frederick can be yet others I’m still trying to pull from their comfort zones because I know they have so much to offer.

We all have that one thing we are good at, that thing that allows us to help others, coordinate something or be the muscle behind the scenes. That thing that makes us useful in our everyday lives and in our community. I hope I’ve inspired (or I’ll even take guilted) you into looking inside yourself for your “thing”. Share it with others, allow yourself to be caught up in fighting for the greater good of your community whether it be through the Chamber or another worthy cause.

Friendly Chamber PSA’s

I just want to use this moment to put a couple of friendly PSA’s out there to the residents of Frederick. It’s hot, humid and getting to the dog days of summer already. One of the bright spots in that scenario is that usually this isn’t the season folks get sick or have to deal with “bugs” running their course through the school system. This is a very good thing.

But as there is a ying to every yang, there is a down side to that as well. When we don’t get sick we don’t go see the doctor. This is a particularly slow time of year for most doctors’ offices. If you’ll remember we are going through some transitional times at Memorial Hospital & Physician Group (MHPG) here in Frederick and they need our support more than ever. I know it’s all been a little confusing as to what is actually closed, etc. But be assured, we still have a top notch facility going on Josephine Street in Frederick.

We have a fully staffed clinic, radiology, laboratory, physical therapy, nursing home and home health in full swing. We are lucky. There are communities all over Oklahoma and even the nation that can’t say that anymore. Rural healthcare is in trouble. There are things that are out of our control happening but the one thing that isn’t, our ability to support our local facility.

As I mentioned, there are some who are confused as to what all is taking place at MHPG. Curious? Go out there and take a look. Heck, go out there and take a walk around and visit because you won’t be alone. Many of the familiar, competent faces you’ve always known are still there. Your friends and neighbors will be there utilizing the facility and I hope you will to.

My second PSA is in regards to the Pioneer Townsite Museum. I don’t know if you’ve read or seen any of the articles lately that deal with the Oklahoma Historical Society but they are in the same financial crunch the rest of the state. Unfortunately that means that they have cut funding to our local facility. This is not good news. The Pioneer Townsite Museum is a major draw for tourism in our community as well as a good resource to us locals.

Again, this becomes an issue of Frederick supporting Frederick. By attending functions and maybe dropping a donation in the bucket or writing a check for a larger donation because you value cultural in Frederick, you can be of help. I (and many others) have been saying this for a while but it has become glaringly true as of late… we must learn to support ourselves.

If we can begin to keep our funds in Frederick, donate to each other and attend each other’s functions then we can begin to become less dependent on those forces around us that maybe don’t see Frederick as a priority.  If we make Frederick our priority then we have a chance in this game!

Don’t forget: Be Kind. Be Heard. Be Local.

Slow time. What slow time?

I had several people tell me when I started this job that late spring/summer is a nice time to start it, not much going on. They said I’d have time to tackle some projects that there wasn’t time for in the winter months. Well here it is in the third week of June and I’m still waiting for that “slow time” to start!

There are so many activities and opportunities popping up in Frederick, OK. And as I have said on the radio show many times, if you are bored then it’s your own fault. I truly believe that if you can’t find something to do then you must be sitting at home with the lights off and your ears plugged. We’ve got concerts, bible schools, classes, Trade Day, great days to hang out at Lake Frederick, golfing or a swim at the local pool available. Not to mention the opportunities to volunteer with the local food bank, summer feeding program or any one of the vital organizations our community has. There’s just a lot going on and I couldn’t be happier.

This alleged slow time is something I want no part of. A slow time means that we are failing to offer someone in our community the chance to get involved or have a good time. A slow time means we are providing our kids (or adults) with a chance to get in trouble. A slow time means that the businesses in our community aren’t making as much money which directly affects sales tax income to our community. Personally, I like to see that sales tax money collected and used in our town…drive up to North 14th street and you’ll see what I mean.

A slow time in Frederick means as neighbors we aren’t getting the chance to visit with one another and that my friends, will just not do. I sometimes look just as forward to the people I will get to talk to as I do an event itself around here. There are particular places I know that I’ll see certain folks and that’s my time to catch up. For instance, the local bloodmobile is my chance to catch up with Billie Cope, a trip to the Ramona Theatre means that Carol Hefner and I get to gab about what’s going on around town or breading oysters at the Oyster Fry means watching Wendy Howard and Gary Tyler vie for “Most Useful Breader”. Every event attended is a chance to know your neighbors here in Frederick and knowing your neighbors is one of the greatest benefits to our small town. I challenge you this week to attend an event, volunteer with an organization or just take a moment to walk down the street and reap the benefits of living in Frederick.

And don’t forget: Be Kind. Be Heard. Be Local.

If it’s not one hat it’s the other

I witnessed something pretty cool today, something a lot of folks around here may not think twice about because we see it so often. Something that major chain stores spend millions advertising (or bragging) about but we just think of it as “business as usual” around Frederick.
I watched a young man run out the door of his job #2 and head to job #1 to gear up and go fight a fire. You read that right, the employer of his secondary job hired him knowing full well that there would be days he’s on stand by and may need to leave in a rush to the scene of a fire. I found that to be a pretty amazing thing.
We have businesses all over Frederick and Tillman County actually, that hire our firemen, policemen, sheriff’s deputies, etc. to work during their off duty time. Around here it’s called hiring good employees. Business owners know they are dependable and think well on their feet. It’s an opportunity to help these brave men and woman supplement their income or fill their off duty time. These employers don’t ask for commercials, tax cuts or anything like that. They do it because it’s the smart thing to do.
The more I thought about it the more I realized that most of our citizens work double duty around here. Granted, not all of us have adventurous, life saving jobs like our first responders but we still wear many hats each day. That extra effort and commitment to Frederick and our families is one of the great things about this community. We aren’t afraid of a little extra work. We work our 9-5’ers and then go volunteer somewhere, sit on a board of something or have a second job. Then there are those that take on all of the above!
I had someone come in the office yesterday and tell me that he has to tape the name of each business he has to the phone so he can remember how to answer it! I get that and I bet you do to.
Do you remember last time when I told you to Be Kind Be Heard Be Local? Well everything I’ve just said is another reason for me to keep chanting that mantra. When you run into one of these hard working Frederick citizens that has to pause when answering the phone to say the right business, Be Kind and don’t chastise. They may have just worked all night of one job and waking up to take care of you somewhere else. When a man that I know full well just worked all day farming stops on the road to help me dig a kids bouncy ball out of the drainage ditch, Be Heard and tell him thank you for being the kind of guy that makes our town wonderful. When you are choosing where to shop, Be Local and think about all of our businesses who employ our local people; your friends and family who have jobs because we continue to Shop Frederick First.
If you are like my kid you just rolled your eyes at me because I have now repeated something twice that I want you to really listen to. I can take it. But just so you know… your eyes will get tired of rolling long before I quit chanting Be Kind, Be Local, Be Heard!

The punches just keep coming…

If you have paid any attention whatsoever to the news lately you’ll agree that it seems like rural Oklahoma just keeps getting punched in the mouth. Things like school finance, medicaid payments, hospitals closing and the brilliant decision made by the Department of Corrections involving work release centers in our part of the state are frustrating to say the least.
That frustration can often turn into hopelessness which might lead some to want to throw their hands up and say “we’re done”. The only reason I want you throwing your hands up is because you enjoy a good roller coaster or you’re a Cameo fan. Giving up is not something we are not particularly good at around here. I know things are tough and it appears the deck is stacked against us but we are tough and resilient. We have the blood of courageous pioneers in our veins and we don’t walk away from something with out giving our everything. 
What is that “everything” we need to give? Well there is a list, let me tell you about some of it.
As simple as this first things seems, be kind. We live in a great community that cares deeply for one another, we lend a hand when someone is down, we chip in when there is a need… we are kind. The moment we turn on one another and stop being kind is the moment this ship sinks. Period.

Be heard. I think that we all have the impression that because we are small we don’t matter in the larger scheme of things. But I can tell you first hand, that’s just not the truth. Earlier in the year when school finance and potential rule changes kind of hit the fan, our local school system called on you for help. Our administrators asked for you to be heard. To write letters, send emails or make calls to our Legislators telling them we have had enough and there are things we won’t stand for. You did such a good job one of them called our Superintendent and asked him to “call your people off, we know, we get it”. That is the sign of people who will be heard and make a difference. That is just one example, we have made ourselves heard many times lately and it’s working.
Be local. That not only means Shop Frederick First but also Attend Frederick First. All the events that are hosted in town should be full each and every time with Frederick residents eager to support one another. That means going to things other than what your kids or grand-kids bind you to, those things that enrich our culture or inform us. These things must be attended by our local population. We cannot sit by and hope others come to town to support us. Being local also means that the more we spend in our own town, the more we get. We get a larger selection at stores, we get things repaired around town and we get farther away from dependency on others for our survival.
 These are three seemingly simple things but but they are the basis for so many more things. I ask you, actually beg you, to focus on these things and make a conscious decision to be kind, be heard and be local.