Earlier this month Rose Rock Habitat for Humanity had the opportunity to partner with OU SOUL Mission, a program with the vision of Head Coach Brent Venables to help the players develop as people outside of their identity as athletes. Holistic in its focus, SOUL, which stands for “serving our uncommon legacy,” has programs that encourage career development, mental health, life skills, and community service.
In September, OU SOUL Mission contacted Matthew Allen-Morgan, Community Outreach Administrator of Rose Rock Habitat for Humanity, seeking a volunteer opportunity for the entire OU football team. Their goal: deploy around one hundred and thirty people (including support staff) to assist with any task we chose, which would need to be large in scope. With only about three weeks to plan, Director of SOUL Missions, Josh Norman, and Matthew Allen-Morgan developed an idea: instead of an event benefiting a single organization, what if we coordinated with several Norman nonprofits on a citywide volunteer day? This would provide the team with options for volunteering and would allow them to select a nonprofit that aligns with their personal affinities, promoting greater engagement with the missions of the respective organizations.
In the end, seven nonprofit organizations throughout the city of Norman had the opportunity to benefit from the generosity of the athletes participating in SOUL Mission.
At Rose Rock Habitat for Humanity, athlete-volunteers built Buddy Benches—benches designed to encourage kindness and friendship, and discourage bullying. They also built a playset for the child of one of our new homeowners, and stained her fence to improve its longevity.
Food and Shelter Inc., a local day center and food pantry that helps a sizable portion of Norman’s low income and homeless families and individuals, received help from the team to reorganize and clean the food pantry facilities, and helped to clean up the grounds of this highly utilized agency.
Another agency who the OU football team lent their time and enthusiasm to was J.D. McCarty Center. J.D. McCarty Center works to enrich the lived with developmental disabilities by providing medical care, and physical, occupational, language and speech therapy on an inpatient and outpatient basis. At JDMC, OU Volunteers refreshed the paint on the facility’s storm shelters, which was damaged in last year’s hail storms.
Center for Children and Families Inc. serves children and their families who have experienced or are at risk for experiencing abuse, neglect, or other adverse experiences throughout Cleveland County. At CCFI, SOUL Mission volunteers built a storage shed for the many items they supply for parents with children, they helped decorate for an upcoming Halloween event, and they had inspiring interactions with Boys & Girls Club members.
Volunteers who went to Second Chance Animal Sanctuary, an organization whose focus is preventing euthanasia of cats and dogs across Oklahoma, helped to exercise and socialize the animals sheltered there. They also helped to maintain the hygiene of the resident animals’ enclosures.
Loveworks Leadership, an organization that promotes creativity, compassion, and leadership in middle-school aged youths, hosted some volunteers that helped prepare and serve food. Other volunteers helped to maintain the community garden that supplies some of the ingredients used in the Loveworks kitchen!
Volunteers who visited Meals on Wheels, a program that delivers meals to individuals at home who are unable to purchase or prepare their own meals, worked with the organization to package meals, and deliver them to people in need.
We are looking forward to Fall 2023 to work with OU SOUL Mission again building hope and community!