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Nonprofits are an economic engine “There are more than 12,000 active nonprofit organizations in Oklahoma and they employ more people than any other business sector in the state,” says Billingsley. And, “If one nonprofit closes - unlike a for-profit business – those they serve likely have no where else to turn. If Best Buy closed all of its locations tomorrow, there is always somewhere else to buy electronics. But when a homeless shelter closes, its residents are again without homes. Our main goal is to help nonprofits thrive by giving them the tools they need. Our mission is to build better communities through effective nonprofits.”

Helping heals your spirit To be a volunteer, it takes a special heart for people or a specific organization. Some people just thrive on helping those that are less fortunate. Owasso’s Rob Rizzo is one of those people and participates in the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief North American Mission Board as well as several other missions and says, “I felt like I needed to do something. It got under my skin and I am compelled to action, especially considering all that has been done for me.” Rizzo’s mission work has taught him that he impacts more than the people and nonprofits he serves – he helps himself. He says, “There is personal satisfaction in helping meet the needs of others. There are so many stories of how God works through others, both survivors and volunteers. The best memories are of those whose lives have changed because of the work that has been done. Go ahead and volunteer, step out of your comfort zone. Once you do, I guarantee you will be forever changed.” ~

Iron Gate volunteers, from left, Bob Morgan, David Ray, Chris Reiland, Steve Carrell and Frank Tackett.

Compassion or a handful of coins by Tracy LeGrand

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pproaching the red light, you slow down and see the disheveled person holding a hand-written sign. The inevitable decision – do you make eye contact? If you smile or nod it can be an implied as invitation to approach the car window. Do you hand over some coins, a dollar bill? What if you can hand them a card that was no-cost to you and which is redeemable for a pick-up and ride to a shelter. Make sure the money you give away matters, says Rev. Steve Whitaker, John 3:16 Mission senior pastor. Many panhandlers aren’t homeless and in fact consider it a day’s work that they can average $60,000 a year doing. “Compassion Card is an effort to do something substantial to reach out to the homeless while giving the passerby on the street something to give them rather than pull money out of their billfold,” Whitaker says. “A Compassion Card means we will come pick you up, if need be, and take you to the shelter. If you arrive with a Compassion Card you get first in line to a meal, shower, a change of clothes and a warm bed for the night. Our staff will talk with you – if you want – and try to find the social services that may benefit you. You will find kindness, caring and hospitality. “Make the money you give away really count,” he says. “The true story is that most

panhandlers drive late-model cars and make more money than you and me both. Compassion Cards are a way to help those who truly need help.” Whitaker is the third generation in his family to specifically serve in the hunger mission and says “I’ve been at this a long time and have seen firsthand that there are those who choose to live on the street because it is a part of their drugging lifestyle. And giving money to that isn’t good for anyone. I wanted to make it possible for there to be no need for a person to give money to a panhandler. Give them a Compassion Card. When they come to the mission we can work with them because we collaborate with all of the other non-profits. We help those who need help. We’re calling out every single panhandler because we’re here to get people off the streets.” Donations are accepted at the Family & Youth Center at 2027 N. Cincinnati Ave. Compassion Cards can be printed and are found at www. john316mission.org.

December 2012 | 15

December Issue of River's Edge Magazine  

Shopping, exercising, playing and working along Tulsa's Arkansas River Corridor