ROWW’s Family Continues to Grow

On May 13, 2013, we published a blog entry titled “Gone,” sharing a story one of our friends had written about the Joplin tornado.  Little did we know that 18 days later, a similar tornado would strike Oklahoma leaving a community desperate for help.

That week had been plagued with tornadic activity throughout the Midwest, and we’d coordinated to have spotters in the area keeping our team up to date on the nature of the storms.  We were monitoring in live-time through various networks when the tornado struck the town of Moore, Oklahoma. Immediately knew we needed to start preparing a relief team to deploy to the area.

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A lot goes into preparing for a mission, and much of that revolves around what the needs of the area are going to be and the equipment that will be required in order to assist the communities. For Oklahoma, we knew that much of the destruction was based on structural damage and debris, which prompted a call for various tools to accomplish meeting those needs.  We were able to connect with some amazing people, who went above and beyond providing us with the necessary equipment and tools to reach out in the most effective way.  This blog entry is dedicated to those individuals who went above and beyond to help us reach out.

Before we touched down in Oklahoma, our partner, STIHL, immediately began connecting us with a local dealer to have equipment waiting when we landed.  This eliminated the need to transport our own, essentially saving precious time.  Our first connection was with Smith Farm and Garden of Oklahoma City, where we had the pleasure of working with Koty McKee, the owner of the dealership.  Once Koty learned about ROWW and what we’d set out to do, he urgently sprung into action. Upon our arrival, Koty and his team, Geoff Smith and Tracy Littlehead had everything staged and ready to go upon our arrival.  This team went beyond what we ever could have expected, by getting a list of tools that far exceeded our goals.  They provided extra equipment, hand tools, repair tools, and many other products that were essential in how we were able to reach the residents and assist them with digging out of the debris.

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Smith Farm and Garden displayed a true sense of community when they stepped beyond a business selling tools for profit and became the neighbor lending a hand to those in need.  They were truly happy to donate the tools they knew they could to affect the lives of those who desperately needed help.  Thousands of dollars worth of equipment was provided with no questions and no expectations, except that we set out to fulfill the mission by reaching out.  It was an honor to work with such integrity, compassion, and friendliness during a time of distress.  Our sincerest thanks, Smith Farm and Garden, on behalf of ROWW and on behalf of the Oklahoma communities we were able to reach because of you.

The ROWW team then began working in Shawnee, Oklahoma. We were more than adequately equipped with exactly what we needed as far as smaller tools, but realized we still had a need for larger equipment to help clear debris.  We stopped by a John Deere dealership to speak with the owner, Jayne Grissom, to see if they would be able to meet our needs.

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Not only were the kind people at John Deere able provide us with equipment and a mini dump truck, but some of the John Deere team came out into the field to work with ROWW. Kevin Adkins and Brian Crider are service technicians from the dealership who were on scene lending a hand as well as being available to service equipment or tools should there have been a need.  James Bell, a service writer; along with Justin Dailey a parts specialist; assisted us with keeping our chain saws and equipment functioning at optimal performance.  Tony Kozel, the store manager, secured the heavy equipment we used for debris removal. Lance Bienhoff, a parts manager; also came out from the John Deere team and operated the equipment for ROWW after hours.

Grissom’s John Deere of Shawnee, Oklahoma, displayed a true sense of community by donating the equipment and manpower that positively affected the lives of those who found themselves in desperate need.  This great group of people made extraordinary personal sacrifices to assist our team, and having them there operating heavy equipment was like having an additional team, which sped up the relief process by leaps and bounds.  It was an honor to work with such integrity, compassion, and friendliness during a time of distress. Our sincerest thanks, John Deere of Shawnee, Oklahoma, on behalf of ROWW and on behalf of the Oklahoma communities we were able to reach because of you.

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We are extremely grateful for the opportunity to partner with two great businesses while serving the Oklahoma communities.  Without great people coming together in these ways, we would be unable to complete such a successful mission.

Easter Close To Home

Each mission is unique, each mission changes circumstances for someone, and each mission changes something in the team. Good Friday was vastly different than our traditional disaster missions, but one none-the-less, that still made a difference both in the lives of those we helped, and in ours.  One of the fundamental foundations of Reach Out Worldwide is the drive to fulfill the needs of others during overwhelming circumstances.  Though we weren’t out in a disaster zone, we found a need locally that we felt compelled to meet.

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For many children; too many, in fact; holidays are a reminder of the things they don’t have rather than a time of celebration and fun.  Emptiness often sits in place of cherished childhood traditions when families just don’t have the financial ability to provide. It was our goal this year to help change some of that in the lives of some really great kids.   We wanted them to have the best Easter experience they could have, so we partnered with the Mid Valley YMCA to put together a fun-filled event. With the help of donations from the community, Reach Out Worldwide brought stuffed animals, candy, and smiles to 50 preschool children.  They participated in an Easter egg hunt, won prizes, ate goodies, and showed that glimmer of hope that belongs in every child’s eyes.

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The “The children were so amazing…They appreciated everything! Originally each child was going to participate in an ‘Easter Egg Hunt’ and the reward was 6 Jelly Beans a piece, but we wanted to give them a little more. We had stuffed animals, toys, candy and we brought a long some STIHL hats, I think the kids liked the hats the best!”  ~ROWW staffer 

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The happiness, the smiles, something so seemingly simplistic to adults, really grows into so much more in the mind of a child.  We were able to see the light, the wonder, and hope in the eyes of these kids during this Easter event, mission accomplished.

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 Here’s our first ever Newsletter: April Newsletter, we’re releasing it here this month.  You can sign up to receive them monthly on our home page at www.roww.org

Reaching Out

 

 

It’s a chilly, rainy day in December and for Los Angeles, is a bit unique for an area plagued with sunshine and perfect temperatures.  The crew begins loading the trucks full of holiday gifts including children’s toys, stuffed stockings, and hygiene items for one of our local charities.

It’s not an overseas mission geared in disaster relief, not one where there are tents set up and triage stations.  It may not even appear to be a disaster at all, but the truth of the matter is there are personal disasters experienced by people in our own communities.  Disasters silent to the general public, ones not defined by shattered windows.  Instead, it’s a shattered home, a shattered heart, shattered lives stricken with abuse, neglect, illness, joblessness, poverty, and more circumstances beyond comprehension.  When the holiday season rolls around, families experiencing the effects of these personal disasters often experience a bleak outlook during a time that many tend to celebrate.  Parents lack the funds to provide gifts for their children, families are struggling to afford the basic necessities, which leaves a feeling of emptiness and lost hope.  We wanted to help make a difference in these lives.

 

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During this time, ROWW partnered with as many local organizations as we could to help them gather presents and supplies and provide a bit of cheer during the holiday season. Thank you for all the wonderful support and help from our amazing volunteers, it was an honor to connect with so many great organizations that do such beautiful, selfless work.

When we head out to serve the people who find themselves in the midst of disaster, we often do not have the opportunity to understand what happened in the hearts of those we helped.  This holiday season, we were honored to receive some feedback from organizations we partnered with.  We thought we would share a few with you, so that you see what kind of impact your donation dollars and fundraising dollars are making in the lives of others.

“On behalf of our adolescent clients, Circle of Help Foundation would like to thank Reach Out Worldwide again for your continued support and contributions. Your donations of stockings filled with candy for every child, as well as personal grooming products for our adult clients made a brighter holiday seasons for the clients which we serve.” ~Circle of Help Foundation

 

  “On behalf of the Newton Police Activities League, I would like to sincerely thank you for making a donation of children’s toys which has been utilized in the Newton Area Toy Giveaway.  This year we were able to give toys to 820 children from our community.  It is only with generous gestures from large-hearted people like yourself that our Newton Police Activities League has been able to undertake and accomplish various community activities like this.” ~ Newton Police Activities League

 

“In my years working at Montecito Heights Recreation Center, I have never seen the people of the community so thankful for the gifts your organization brought us. And the gifts couldn’t have gone to more deserving and needing families then the ones that received them. For these families these were the only gifts they were going to receive this holiday season. Children crying, their faces streaming with tears of joy, is what makes this job all the more rewarding. And the parents, to be humbled by the act of kindness, to where I’m getting tear soaked hugs, means you not only helped out a couple of families, but uplifted the spirits of our entire community. “~ Montecito Heights Recreation Center 

 

Our sincere thank you to each one of our partners (visit our website for a list of current partners http://www.roww.org/partners.php), our fundraising supporters, our donors, and followers.  We could not change lives if it weren’t for each one of you.

 

If you are new to Reach Out Worldwide, be sure you click the “About” button at the top of the page above the photos.  There you can learn where we started, who we are, and what we do.

We are bringing some exciting things your way in 2013! Our goal is centered around becoming a leader in worldwide disaster relief as well as incorporating what we do in our local and national communities.  We want to inspire people around the world to reach out, to get involved, and to be prepared for emergencies.  We also want to share more of what we’re doing with all of you who support us in so many ways, so that we can work together to impact and change lives.

You can see a variety of our Holiday 2012 photos on our Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/reachoutworldwide/photos_stream