The Ardmoreite SOL Holiday 2019

Page 1

Southern Oklahoma

HOLIDAY 2019 n $2



rdmore Dragway owners and staff extend our gratitude to all our fans, racers and sponsors for a wonderful 2019 race season. As the wheels stop turning on our 65th season of drag racing, the momentum has already begun for 2020. Ardmore Dragway is excited to be affiliated with the National Hot Rod Association and the great privileges it brings to our race fans. In the upcoming race season, we will once again be hosting our Friday Night Fun Drags. This is an opportunity for the community to bring their family sedan or pickup and race in a safe, legal environment against their friends. Ardmore Dragway will also be participating in the NHRA Youth Program, which offers young race enthusiasts the chance to compete in street legal cars and our Junior Drag Racing League Series. Saturdays, we will once again be running the Summit Bracket Race Series featuring the best sportsman racers in Oklahoma and Texas. The Spring Swap Meet and Children’s Shelter Car Show will return next year along with The Cowpasture Nationals, Friday Night Nitro, Ardmore Dragway Racers Reunion and many more specialty events. Thanks again for your support and we will see you soon in 2020...Ardmore Dragway

Ardmore Dragway is located 7 miles North of Ardmore, Okla. Take Exit 40 off I-35, then 1 mile east. Track 580-653-2711 Visit us on Facebook or at

2 Southern Oklahoma Living u Holiday 2019

Contents 5

PUBLISHER: Kim Benedict ADVERTISING: Estela Holguin Becky Matchen TiAna Nelson Katherine Smith LAYOUT/DESIGN: Julie Thomas GRAPHICS/ PRODUCTION: Natalie Garrison Cathy Roberts Julie Thomas


When I am weak, I am strong

Chris Hunter, of Hunter Super Techs, opens up about illness, community and faith By Michael D. Smith

Eco-conscious holiday

Helpful tips to be environment friendly while enjoying the season By Julie Maher

10 The gift of reading Building family literacy over the holiday break By Ari James

12 Making Christmas Traditional event offers magical experience By Alicia Henry

STAFF WRITERS: Drew Butler Evan Grice Sierra Rains Michael D. Smith

14 We’ve got spirit

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Laura Eastes Akers Lonè Beasley Donnell Cox Tiffany Ditto Diana Fleming Dr. Harry Galoob Alicia Henry Ari James Julie Maher Noble Research Institute Tyler Young

18 Keeping Southern Oklahoma fed

DISTRIBUTION: Charlie Ammons CIRCULATION: Mary Butler BUSINESS OFFICE: Kathy Keeton Kathy Worley Printed and distributed initially on November 1, 2019 © 2019 Gatehouse Media, LLC All rights reserved.

The Ardmoreite Established 1893 117 W. Broadway P.O. Box 1328 Ardmore, OK 73401 (580) 223-2200

For more information or advertising opportunities contact The Ardmoreite at 580-221-6512. No portion of this magazine may be reproduced in whole or in part without written consent from the publisher or its designee.

Oklahoma School for the Deaf knocks down barriers to impact lives By Evan Grice Food and Resource Center of Southern Oklahoma seeing continued growth By Drew Butler

19 Seen on Scene

By Ardmoreite Staff

By Noble Research Institute

25 Making a super burger, Vietnamese-Style 26 Making the last days count

Hospice services provide comfort, ease pain of caregivers’ last days with loved ones By Sierra Rains

28 Family-fun for the holidays Events at Chickasaw Cultural Center and Artesian Hotel offer multiple celebration opportunities By Lonè Beasley

32 A simple act

How to help those experiencing homelessness this season By Laura Eastes Akers

35 Leading the way

Ardmore’s Chamber of Commerce leadership programs inspire youth By Tiffany Ditto

36 Who we are makes a difference

Learn to detect suicide thinking and help a person in trouble By Dr. Harry Galoob & Donnell Cox

38 Favorite time of year

By Tyler Young

By Diana Fleming

40 Get your 2020 resolutions started on the right foot 42 Events Calendar

Holiday 2019 u Southern Oklahoma Living 3

All is merry and bright in Southern Oklahoma From the Publisher

Regional Park that draws thousands of visitors to Ardmore. Tyler Young has the hen Mother Nature decided to cool things details for the auction as well as off she did it in a hur- other city/community event info ry. We’ve moved from 80-90 on page 38. Alicia Henry also weighs in on page 12. degree weather down to Shopping plays a the 60’s and 70’s, which big part in the holiday is great for the AC bill season whether it’s for but hard on plants and personal gifts, food and landscaping! decorations, Angel Tree When a chill hits the recipients or other charair in Southern Oklaitable acts. Please keep homa we know we’ve in mind that keeping turned the corner into those dollars local prothe holiday season and all of the joy and over- Kim Benedict vides for investment in infrastructure, comloaded schedules that munity growth and it entails. There are a great many annual events in development and the ability Ardmore and the surrounding of area merchants to support area that have created family area organizations and causes traditions in attendance or par- that benefit Southern Oklahoticipation and the excitement mans. In addition to chain restarts to build as we say goodbye tail stores, wander through the smaller downtown stores and to Halloween! The upcoming Festival of art galleries that carry unique or Lights Auction is a great way to hard-to-find merchandise for a pick up Christmas gifts as well gift that’s sure to please. as support the lighting event at We’re fortunate that the


majority of people in our area will have a joyful holiday with friends and family. But there are many in our community who face personal challenges that are even more painful during the holiday season. Dr. Harry Galoob and Donnell Cox talk about learning to detect suicide thinking and helping a person in trouble on page 36. Laura Eastes Akers shares a simple act to help those experiencing homelessness on page 32. And because food insecurity is a real problem, Drew Butler sheds some light on the Food and Resource Center of Southern Oklahoma on page 18. If you’re looking for ways to keep the season “green,” check out Julie Maher’s column on page 8 for tips on eco-friendly gift wrapping, gift giving and being mindful of the environment. In addition to these informational articles, this edition of Southern Oklahoma living is chock full of other stories and columns plus advertising information from area retail and

About the cover:

Santa and Mrs. Claus make their appearance at the end of annual Toys for Tots Southern Oklahoma Children’s Christmas Parade. Cover photo by The Ardmoreite service businesses. I appreciate the support of our loyal readers and customers and wish all Southern Oklahomans the very best of the season. So from the staff of Southern Oklahoma Living, have a safe and merry holiday season! See you next year. — Kim Benedict is the publisher of Southern Oklahoma Living Magazine and the Ardmoreite.

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When I am weak, I am strong

Chris Hunter, of Hunter Super Techs, opens up about illness, community and faith By Michael D. Smith


ut he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 gave Chris Hunter some peace earlier this year when doctors told him that he was in a race for his life. Chris was on vacation with his family last spring, just a few weeks before his birthday. The Dominican Republic is a popular vacation destination, and the healthy 41-year-old was just like many other Americans enjoying the Caribbean nation. Once he returned home

to southern Oklahoma, however, the breathing issues started. He thought he was just getting older and out of shape. Chris is a husband, father, grandfather and founder of Hunter Super Techs in Ardmore. For a middle-aged man with so many irons in the fire, why wouldn’t he expect to be getting a little run down? “Then one night I ended up crashing out on the floor, my blood pressure plummeted and my family took me to the ER,” he said. After an emergency room X-ray and CT scan, doctors started to prepare Chris for the worst. “Next thing I know, I was being admitted to the hospital and told I had eight masses in my lungs. One in particular was about the size of a racquetball.” Chris and I exchanged emails and text messages for a few days before we finally were able to speak to each other in early October. I was unsure what

ABOVE: Chris Hunter stands in front of his company’s vehicle fleet. The founder of Hunter Super Techs fell ill earlier this year, just months after making the decision to relinquish some business responsibilities. PHOTO SUBMITTED

to expect after he had spent a week at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, but Chris sounded healthy and optimistic over the phone. He described the last five months as a rollercoaster. But the numerous doctors, hospitals, and terrifying prospect of losing his life sounded far more stressful than any amusement park ride. Even with all of this, Chris said the hardest part of his perilous medical situation is the inability to play with his grandkids. “That has been the toughest part for me, knowing I can’t.” Once a PET scan “lit up like a Christmas tree,” Chris said he was transferred to Oklahoma City to meet with specialists. “It was my birthday, April 5, when I was told that I more than likely had stage four cancer.”

His wife became worried about him, not because of the daunting prospect of late-stage cancer but because of his peace and acceptance of the early diagnosis. “For me, it was a win-win,” he said. “I knew if I did have that and it got me, I win because ultimately I knew where I was going. If I didn’t, or if we overcame this, it would be a wonderful testimony.” That’s when he told me about the strength he received from 2 Corinthians. Perhaps due to divine intervention several months before he fell ill, Chris and his family had made some professional decisions that relieved him of some aspects of business ownership and decision-making. “It really was kind of a wake-up call,” he said. “If people aren’t prepared

Holiday 2019 u Southern Oklahoma Living 5

LEFT: Chris Hunter visits with his wife and grandchildren during a recent hospital visit. BOTTOM LEFT: Masses growing in Chris Hunter’s lungs were originally thought to be cancerous, but later diagnosed as a rare fungal infection.



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for a disaster of some sort, oh man.” Chris said that he and his family took difficult but necessary actions to make sure finances would be in order in the event of his passing. Biopsies later revealed the masses were not cancerous, but rather a result of an extremely rare fungal infection called cryptococcus neoformans. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cryptococcus neoformans normally affects people with weak immune systems. For an otherwise healthy man, the source of his infection remains a mystery. News of a rare but treatable infection was a miracle compared to metastasizing lung cancer. We talked at length about his support system and the faith-based culture of southern Oklahoma. Chris doesn’t know how anybody can go through any health crisis without something to draw from and something to cling to — whether it’s friends, family, coworkers or God. “How in the world do people go through something and not have that kind of support,” he openly wondered as we shared experiences of supporting people who needed it. “Everybody at some point in time is affected by this.” Even though cancer was ruled out, the uphill battle was just beginning: Chris found himself growing weaker; he 6 Southern Oklahoma Living u Holiday 2019

lost over 30 pounds in about five months; doctors told him that other bodily systems were being affected. “My mind has even gotten to where it was almost confused and brain fog. That was very tough because I make my living being a quick thinker,” he said. The treatment has been hard on his body. Even the CDC says treating this type of fungal infection can take up to six months. Without the distractions of work or even the ability to play with his grand- Free Account kids, Chris admitted thoughts Our special account for our full time of defeat have crossed his mind. teachers or full time school employees. We are open “I’ve been close, I hate toRequirements: say • $100.00 deposit opens your account 7 Days that. I don’t mean give up in the Available to full time teachers or full sense of ‘I’m going to end •this a week at our time school employees thing,’ but give up in a sense of Deposit payroll is required • Direct Homeland ‘you’re just tired.’ Tired ofBenefits: not No minimum balance required Banking Center getting results,” he said. •• Unlimited checking with no per item He expressed no shame in accharges in Ardmore • No maintenance fee cepting help from those willing • Specific personalized checks at no charge to give it. “Everybody is going • Debit Card with no annual fee through something. We as•huMoney Orders/Cashier’s Check at no mans really need to be more charge • Notary Services at no charge Account intentional about letting people • Free On Line Banking know how much we care about For our full time student customers • Free 24 hr automated “TeleBank”Requirements: them...and don’t wait until it’s Telephone Inquiry system • $100.00 deposit opens your account • Free Mobile Bank texting system too late to show them.” • Must be full time student (12 (Carrier messaging and data rates may apply) Even during such a difficult hours or more) • Free iPhone and Android Apps Benefits: test for Chris, he has still made • No minimum balance required time to express support for oth• Unlimited checking with no per ers who need help. He spoke of item charges • No maintenance fee an old friend who was hospitalCall Today to Ask About Our: • Free On Line Banking ized in recent weeks. “I stopped Teacher - Free Account • Free 24 hr automated “TeleBank”We are open up there to see him. It took me Telephone Inquiry system 7 Days 15 minutes and I could tell his a week at our • Free Mobile Bank texting system Homeland (Carrier messaging and data rates may apply) spirits were immediately lifted.” Banking Center • Free iPhone and Androidaccount Apps in Ardmore With an ANB Christmas Club No matter where our conver• Debit Card with no annual fee sation went, the topic of loving Student Account you can save weekly or monthly and one another by any means necbe set for the holiday next year! essary seemed to be his motivation. “We’re southern Oklahoma, and we’re strong because we have a community, we have a faith,” he said. “Don’t be afraid to love on people and be inten• 1-800-580-7235 • 580-226-6222 580-226-6222 1-800-580-7235 tional about it.”

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Eco-conscious holiday Helpful tips to be environment friendly while enjoying the season Look for one-of-a-kind and locally made eco-friendly gifts. ow can we help our enviFocus on QUALITY, ronment during the Best NOT QUANTITY Time of the year? Espewhen purchasing your cially when we want to impress gifts. Choose a higher quality item our family, friends and neighthat may last Forever!! Too many bors. Can we de-stress the Holidays? The Ardmore Beautification of our current products are cheapCouncil says Yes, You can! Here ly made and not sustainable!! Julie Maher are some tips and ideas to help The best way to be you become more friendly to the environmentally conenvironment and keep the fun and joy in scious over the Holthe Holiday season! iday is to STICK TO THE ONE GIFT So, in order to have an ENVIRONMEN- RULE! Particularly when you have kids, TALY FRIENDLY Holiday try some of the you will notice that many family members suggestions below: like to go all out and buy a number of gifts We all know that more is not for the little ones. Sticking to a one gift rule necessarily better! Try SCALING for all family members will ensure that DOWN! Many Americans spend there is no excess waste, and it will also way too much during the holiday season. ensure that the one gift the kids get will Have you ever wondered how much of be a good one. your “GIFT GIVING” ends up in the trash Think UNIQUE, BUY VINor becomes obsolete? Most of us buy out TAGE! Try searching local secof obligation, without considering our ondhand, vintage or antique impact on the environment or our wallets. stores for specific items for your loved Shopping for eco-friendly gifts starts with ones! these questions: Who do you really need to buy for? How much do you really need to Also, HANDMADE or HOMEspend? Do the presents you’re buying have MADE items are especially a purpose or meaning? Ask yourself these meaningful to so many of us! questions and commit to cutting back. Search your attic for family items that you Here’s another suggestion! BUY may choose to gift to your family members. LOCAL!! Have an idea of your Or make something from your heart. Quilts local shops, craft shows, art gal- and wall hangings or crocheted/knitted leries plus Facebook and Etsy Boutiques! items or even old photos can really be the Ardmore Beautification Council






8 Southern Oklahoma Living u Holiday 2019

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highlight of the gift giving season! Are you a good baker or cook? Make a gift of cookies, cakes or even a favorite casserole that may benefit and lessen the stress of your friends and neighbors. Search for the ‘just perfect’ gift at the local art gallery or museum! Many local artists sell their work in these specialty businesses. Search for gifts made from SUSTAINABLE MATERIALS! Search for cotton, bamboo, wool, and look for non-toxic paints on things like wooden toys. As it may be difficult to find products that don’t have plastics, polyesters, hardwoods or any other non-sustainable materials in them. Many of these materials are not easily renewable and/or may produce toxins either in their manufacturing or during se. If you like DIY try to find “EDUCATIONAL” books that teach green! Perhaps a vegetable gardening book with a few garden tools, or some shade grown coffee and a handmade mug with a “green” message. Any impossible-to-buy-for people on your list? Try the GIFT OF CHARITY by donating money, plant a tree, support their favorite church or charitable organization in their name. SIMPLIFY YOUR DECORATIONS! There is no reason to overdo it. Keep





your decorating as simple as possible. Use natural decorations. Rather than filling the inside and outside of your home with a bunch of plastic that will just be thrown out and the end of the year, use decorations that are made out of wood and other natural substances. NAT U R A L TREES are the best option. If they only last a couple of years, fake trees really do not do anything to help the environment. A real tree can be mulched after the holidays, which will ultimately use less energy than what was used to create a fake tree. The best option, however, is likely a potted tree, which can be used for more than one year and then planted after it has been used in your home as much as possible. Seeds make great, long lasting gifts. Visit your local greenhouse and find some beautiful indoor and outdoor plants for your loved ones. You know when you get all the lights out and some bulbs light and others don’t? Try upgrading to LED LIGHTS. Saving energy and money! PARTY WITHOUT WASTE. It is quite common to see households generating excess amount of waste or garbage during the holidays. Traditions call for lots of foodstuff. There is joy in Grandmothers pies, Aunt Liz’s candies, but in this day of rush, rush, rush perhaps we could reevaluate time in the kitchen and focus on time with each other, playing games, telling stories, and looking at old photos! And it could be a good opportunity to share ideas on composting leftovers or finding a local chicken farmer who would be interested in the leftovers. GIFT BAGS. An eco-friendly alternative to wrapping paper is to use gift bags. Almost any bag can be turned into a gift bag. A simple paper grocery bag, for instance, can be embellished and decorated to create an interesting


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alternative to a shop bought gift bag. One of the attractive things about gift bags is that they are easy to use time and time again. EMBELLISHMENTS — One key to using alternative forms of gift wrapping is to ensure that the wrapped gift looks attractive. Use cut up used cards for pretty gift tags. A wide range of recycled products can be used to decorate gift wrap. A gift wrapped in newspaper could look stunning when a few buttons from old clothes are added. Some sparkle can be added to gift wrap by cutting shapes from pieces of discarded foil, for instance chocolate wrappers. A decorative paper punch is ideal for this purpose. (Most of the mass produced shiny wrapping paper is not recyclable and ends up in landfills.) One beautiful and sustainable alternative to traditional wrapping paper is repurposing fabric as gift wrap. If every family wrapped one gift a year in fabric the paper saved could paper 15,000 football fields. Don’t be afraid to use recycled fabrics. Old t-shirts or sheets can easily be turned into unique gift wrap. Get Creative! If you’re repurposing a simple sheet or using plain fabric, try an applique, or some embroidery or even stencil, stamp or paint decorative designs. It could be a trip own memory lane if a used garment was recognizable as the gift wrap used on the fabric owner’s personal gift. But most of all enjoy the holiday — take time to walk in the great outdoors and be thankful and grateful for family and friends! Use the time off from work to breathe and enjoy nature by visiting our beautiful Southern Oklahoma Parks! Our environment is here for us to use and to protect! The Ardmore Beautification Council hopes to give you inspiration for your Holiday Season! — Julie Maher, Executive Director, Ardmore Beautification Council



Tips for a Greener Holiday Reduce food waste

Moments not things

DIY gifts

Avoid over packaging

Shop locally

No new decorations


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The gift of reading Building family literacy over the holiday break By Ari James Executive Director, Ardmore Literacy Leadership


hen the doors swing shut behind many students — K-12 and beyond — the last thing on their minds is reading. But as former Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts Dana Gioia said, if he could know one number about a kid that would predict how successful they’d be in life, it would be their reading proficiency. Whether or not curling up with a good book is your cup of tea, study after study has proven that the more we read, the better we are at it. So how do we bridge the gap between what some of our children may or may not enjoy 10 Southern Oklahoma Living u Holiday 2019

and what we know is children would rathgood for their future er be playing video success? games, going on outWhile studies, like door adventures or Allinder and Eicher’s simply spending time 2008 study “Bouncing with their friends. Like Back,” show that the many other activities, losses students expethough, our children rience after returning do what we model for Ari James from long breaks, are them, so reading for regained, some stupleasure or to further dents regress significantly in our own educations may be one reading and other subject ar- way to engage children in our eas. Keeping those skills sharp care to do the same. over long breaks, like the winFor younger readers, try havter holidays, may just boost a ing them read recipes for holstudent who had been lagging iday favorites — they can even behind, or keep a student on do the measuring for a fun, track for the second half of their if somewhat messy, lesson in academic year. fractions. This could also proEngaging kids in reading-re- vide an opportunity to work in lated activities shouldn’t feel some health and food literacy like a punishment, either. Per- skills as well by talking about haps not surprisingly, most portion sizes and the impor-

tance of moderation for sweets and fattening foods. Going on a long trip? Play license plate bingo (https:// kids-activities-and-printables/ printables/writing-worksheets/ license-plate-bingo-sheets. html), write found poetry from words on signs and billboards, count the number of blue (or red or green) cars you see. For those with smartphones and tablets, perhaps creating a collage of images to send as holiday cards or thank you notes for gifts could enhance digital literacy skills while providing another way to connect to those far-away friends and family members. Got pre-teens? Enlist them in hand-writing thank you notes or addressing holiday cards, or

in creating a spreadsheet or database of email addresses to print on labels. In addition to developing a skill (addressing envelopes, buying and placing stamps, writing meaningful notes), they’re engaged in relationship building — with you, their caregiver, and whomever they’re sending the notes and cards to. Double checking those addresses with the USPS database online adds another layer of digital literacy— and makes sure your card or gift will arrive to the correct address. Teens can also help with online shopping. Give them a list and challenge them to find the best deals or the fastest shipping to Aunt Amy in Vermont. Not only are they reading — they’re learning valuable life skills about budgeting and money management. If you’re one for volunteering, reading to residents at a nursing home or veterans home may be an activity to seek out. I hear the folks at the local veterans center enjoy a good

game of Bingo, too. Have a family game night. Watch a holiday movie from another country — with subtitles. Read family favorites together like The Night Before Christmas, La Nochebuena or The Story of Hanukkah. Family literacy is a skill built together, as a unit. The greatest predictor of a child’s success is the education level of their caregivers. Gift the whole family with a brighter future this holiday season. You’re all worth the effort.

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— Ari James is the executive director for the Ardmore Literacy Leadership coalition. Member agencies serve area residents from youth through adulthood in areas including early childhood education, digital and financial literacy, adult basic education, high school equivalency, citizenship classes and English language education. For more information or to request a referral, visit ardmoreliteracyleadership. com or call (580) 768-2942.

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Making Christmas Traditional event offers magical experience Ardmore Parks and Recreation Department


he Ardmore Parks and Recreation Santa’s Workshop is a long standing tradition in Ardmore. Santa’s Workshop is at the very end of the Festival of Lights which is one of the largest Christmas Lights displays in the state of Oklahoma. The lights can be seen from the bustling I-35 interstate — so we get many people Alicia Henry from other states visiting the Festival of Lights. On that one special weekend, at the very end of the lights is another surprise! When we started Santa’s Workshop in 2008, it was offered the first two weekends in December. This proved to be very difficult and challenging for staff. What many may not realize is we bake everything in Santa’s Workshop. The week leading up to the event is spent baking, dipping pretzels, making rice crispy treats, etc. When we offered two weekends, staff baked for one week, worked the two night event, baked the next week and worked the event once again. It takes about 15-20 volunteers each night to operate crafts, take pictures, work the concession, etc. From 2010 to present, Santa’s Workshop is offered the first weekend of December on Friday and Saturday night from 6 to 10 p.m. We decorate the facility to look like Santa’s Workshop and provide a variety of activities for our customers. When you enter Santa’s Workshop, you will smell the fresh baked goodies, see kids making crafts, a beautiful decorated Christmas tree, story time and of course Santa. Santa’s Workshop is also a “Toys for Tots” drop off site and we receive a variety of presents for children for Christmas. Here is the entire concept so you can visualize the magic: When customers walk in from viewing the beautiful Festival of Lights display, a door greeter explains the different activities and what they can expect in the magical world of Santa’s Workshop. Inside there are four craft tables with Christmas crafts for children and a Santa letter station. Each child has an opportunity to write a letter to Santa listing everything they wish for, for Christmas. The children then take the letter to Santa’s mailbox and drop it inside. Within minutes, the child will hear his/her name called by Santa’s elf. When the child arrives, a magical certificate has the child’s name on it stating that Santa has officially put him/her on the Nice List. The excitement on their faces is indescribable! Families also have the opportunity to meet and take pictures with Santa. We print the pictures off immediately and put them in a nice holiday frame. The cost of pictures is $5. We also have a concession available which includes homemade goodies such as cookies, brownies, fudge, chocolate covered pretzels, as well as popcorn, hot chocolate, apple cider, nachos and soda. The concession items are no more than $2. We also sell sparkling Christmas necklaces that the children really love. The 12 Southern Oklahoma Living u Holiday 2019

Ardmore Public Library reads a Christmas story which families love. Each night we have a drawing for a large family prize. It is truly an amazing experience. Some customers come traditionally every single year and some customers experience it for the first time as they are passing through the state. One of the main keys to Santa’s Workshop is volunteers. We utilize approximately 15 volunteers each night to work concession, help with crafts, be the role of Santa, take pictures, print off pictures, read stories to the children, greet customers and manage Santa’s letters. The planning stage includes meetings starting in August. Each area has to be planned in detail and we start recruiting volunteers. The week of Santa’s Workshop everyone is working hard department wide to prep for the event. Our crews are transforming our actual workshop to Santa’s workshop, which is incredible. Other staff members are baking goodies at the HFV Wilson Community Center and the Parks and Recreation Office as well as community volunteers throughout the city. Santa’s Workshop is a wonderful, traditional event for our department. Our hard work definitely pays off when you look at the amount of people we reach in eight hours! In 2017, we broke the record with 1,700 people in one weekend that came through Santa’s Workshop! Last year, we had almost 1,500 people which was the second highest attendance record. It is completely worth every second of planning to see the smiles on families’ faces. Each year, we get to give them a little piece of Christmas spirit and that is a very rewarding feeling. Merry Christmas! PHOTOS SUBMITTED

Christmas Tree Lighting

Chigger Chase

Saturday, Nov. 23rd at Regional Park

Event starts at 4 p.m. — Children’s Races, 1 mile fun run, 5 mile run, 5K

Festival of Lights Officially opens immediately after chigger chase Open until Dec. 30th

Tuesday, Dec. 3rd at Central Park

11 a.m. Christmas market and food trucks; 4:30 p.m. first gift of Christmas, entertainment, horse-drawn carriages, hot chocolate & more

Jolly Trolley Dec. 9th, 10th, 11th & 12th

Rides at 6, 7 & 8 p.m. Depart from Central Park — Ride trolley to Regional Park through the Festival of Lights Hot chocolate & cookies Christmas story time Tickets will go on sale Nov. 4th

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Oklahoma School for the Deaf knocks down barriers to impact lives By Evan Grice


ften times in life, the actions of the few can alter the lives of many. For the Oklahoma School for the Deaf, this statement couldn’t be more true. Located in Sulphur, Oklahoma on the outskirts of the city limits, the school has played host to countless students throughout the years, as well as many talented athletes. However, the school hasn’t always been located in Sulphur. In fact, the earliest roots of the Oklahoma School for the Deaf trace back to Fort Gibson in the 1890’s. According to the OSD school website, “The first school in Oklahoma to give instruction to deaf children was at Fort Gibson. This school was started by a Mrs. Lowery for the education of the blind Indian children of the Five Civilized Tribes. Later Mrs. Lowery admitted deaf children, and in the early eighteen nineties white children were admitted.” The story continues with a listing in 1898 which reads “In 1898 Mr. and Mrs. Ellsworth Long started a school for deaf children at Guthrie. The school at Fort Gibson was glad to send all of its deaf to this area and school as Mrs. Lowery’s school, was originally for the blind. This territory paid the superintendent of the school a certain sum for each child in school. Mr. H. C. Beamer followed Mr. Long as head of the school and R. N. Dunham followed Mr. Beamer.” The Oklahoma School for the Deaf that we know today wasn’t officially opened until the fall of 1908, and didn’t move to its current location until the fall of 1913, where it had been located in rented buildings on the business side of town previously. Oklahoma School for the Deaf has a proud history, including having been opened at the time of statehood in Oklahoma on November 1, 1907, where the school year finished under territorial restrictions.

OSD Indians took on the Arkansas School for the Deaf during their Homecoming game as multiple fans lined the sidelines and packed the bleachers. EVAN GRICE/THE ARDMOREITE

Holiday 2019 u Southern Oklahoma Living 15

Now in its 106th year at its current home, and its 114th year of official existence, the Oklahoma School for the Deaf continues to provide a quality education for those students who aren’t able to make progress in public schools due to a hearing impairment, so they might adjust properly. “Our school represents the state of Oklahoma, and we travel with our athletic programs across the United States, as well as our academic teams,” OSD Superintendent Chris Dvorak said. “We also compete in the Galludant University Bowl which sends us to Rochester, New York and Washington D.C. on academic competitions. We want everyone to know that we represent the people of Oklahoma in everything we do, whether they know it or not, not just academically or athletically.” “Our biggest thing is we want to build relationships with everyone across the state,” Dvorak added. “We want to increase awareness across the state, and we want every hard of hearing or deaf child to know about OSD. We want them to know there is a place for them here, and we want families and the entire state to know about this place. We were established to be a resource to help deaf people, and we’re proud to represent the state of Oklahoma.” Part of the way the school represents Oklahoma is on the gridiron with the Indians football team. During the course of a season, the Indians can travel from Minnesota to Arkansas, Kansas, New Mexico and even Mississippi. But when the Indians have home games, they are generally held on Thursday mornings, making it difficult for there to be a big crowd. However, this season during the annual Homecoming game against the Arkansas School for the Deaf, a change was made in the schedule to have the game played on a Saturday evening under the lights for the first time on campus. With generators powering the makeshift lighting arrangements, the Indians took the field for the first time on campus at night. The end result wasn’t just a comfortable victory for the Indians, but the home side of the field was packed in every set of bleachers, as well as multiple fans lining the sidelines with lawn chairs. “It’s good for the kids to see they are acknowledged and supported by people outside of the school,” Duvak said. “We are a pillar of the deaf community across the state. To be able to have alumni come back and share stories about their time here is just 16 Southern Oklahoma Living u Holiday 2019

one foundation of the platform we’ve built to strengthen the deaf community.” “Most of the parents who attend these games are hearing parents,” Dvorak added. “When people come to games then it allows us to start building a bridge between the deaf community and the hearing community in Oklahoma. The great benefit of having a school like OSD is that you have a number of students who get to experience a normal social experience, while having deaf role models to look up to, so they know there are adults who have experienced what they have, and were able to overcome it. That’s something you can’t get anywhere else in the state, because the impact is just so much greater than academic instruction.” Another unique trait about the Oklahoma School for the Deaf is that multiple faculty members along with staff on campus are either deaf or hard of hearing, or even alumni who have graduated and decided to come back and work on campus after obtaining their education. Head volleyball coach Angie Shelby knows all about the struggles of being a deaf athlete, so she now takes pride in setting an example as a deaf coach for the Lady Indians. “Getting involved in a sports program is the best thing to do,” Shelby said. “It gives the opportunity for deaf students to play sports and allows them to show people their abilities. I’m humbled knowing OSD has a huge impact on every child’s life because we can help the children develop to a better learning environment and help them to become a better person.” “These kids are exceptional in everything they do,” OSD Athletic Director Levi Mathis said. “I have the opportunity to work with them in the classroom and in athletics and they work hard in both areas. I have kids taking college level or concurrent enrollment their junior and senior years and winning


championships or National Deaf honors.” “With their brutal travel schedule that takes motivation and a lot of work,” Mathis added. “What I love is my kids are just looking for that opportunity and when they get the chance they prove again and again they can do this on any level. I just want them to have the opportunity. Especially with athletics, I’m passionate that the kids get a fighting chance. When we travel we know we represent the state and we know we are the Deaf representation of Oklahoma.” Trudy Lynn Mitchell, who serves as the Director of Student Life on campus, said the one thing she loves about working on the campus is that everyday they are breaking down barriers in so many ways. “ There is no language barrier here at OSD for anyone,” she said. “Everyone communicates in ASL, and our students are able to learn freely without barriers. OSD is and will always be a part of me. I grew up here, its home and I want other Deaf/HOH students to have the same experience I did here.”

“We are a pillar of the deaf community across the state. To be able to have alumni come back and share stories about their time here is just one foundation of the platform we’ve built to strengthen the deaf community.” — Chris Dvorak, OSD Superintendent

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Food and Resource Center of Southern Oklahoma seeing continued growth By Drew Butler


he Food and Resource Center of Southern Oklahoma first opened in 2016 and, according to Executive Director James Rosson, their service is continuing to grow. “We serve Love, Carter, Murray and Johnston Counties,” Rosson said. “We serve around 1,500 to 1,700 families a month — a little over 3,000 people — and each family gets around $200 to $300 worth of groceries that they get to choose themself.” Rosson said the ability to make their own choices is one factor that separates the Food and Resource Center from other food banks. “What makes us different is they get a grocery cart and they shop as opposed to us just handing them a box of food,” Rosson said. “We’ve got a nice four door freezer, a nice four door refrigerator and lots of fresh produce.” Rosson said that while the center does not always know exactly what food they are going to receive, they typically get around six truck loads a month. Four of these trucks come from the regional food bank and two come from Dallas loaded down with food from Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. 18 Southern Oklahoma Living u Holiday 2019

Rosson said the center refers to all of the people they help as guests, and it’s important all their guests retain their dignity. “We want people to come in and know that we’re here to help them,” Rosson said. “Our mission is simple. It’s about providing food security and promoting self sufficiency, that’s why we’re a food and resource center. We get them the food, and we work very hard to get them access to resources. Whether it’s job skills, help with utilities — whatever it is they need.” One of the programs the center offers is a nutrition class, which is held every week. If their guests attend the class for eight weeks they are given a certificate for an additional trip to the center as an incentive. This comes in handy because, otherwise, guests can only go to the center once a month. And while these monthly trips are typically worth around $200 to $300, Rosson said they only last the family around a week and a half to two weeks. Rosson himself know what it is like to be hungry, and knows the hardship it can bring, especially to children. “Before I was put with my foster family, I can remember my brothers and sisters and me stealing food from a grocery store so we could eat. So this is close to my heart. This is near

and dear to me,” Rosson said. Rosson said that while they receive food from the regional food bank and other businesses, the Food and Resource Center of Southern Oklahoma would not be able to be open without the support of the community. “This is a community re-

source,” Rosson said. “We have some wonderful funding sources here but we really need the community. Your gifts are tax deductible, and we always welcome volunteers. We average about 220 volunteers a month, and I encourage everyone to come see us and what we do.”

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SEEN ON SCENE Lunch with a Loved One — Lincoln Elementary

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SEEN ON SCENE Lunch with a Loved One — Lincoln Elementary

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Making a super burger,


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arah Kemp led Team Noble to victory in the Ardmore Corporate Fitness Challenge Super Burger Contest in June. Now she shares her award-winning recipe for a Vietnamese-style burger. INGREDIENTS n 3 tablespoons granulated sugar n 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar n 1/4 cup warm water n 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 1/8-inch-thick matchsticks n 1/4 medium cucumber, cut into 1/8-inch slices n 1/2 white onion, thinly sliced n 2 large radishes, sliced n 1 pound ground pork n 1 tablespoon soy sauce n 1 teaspoon ginger powder n 1 teaspoon garlic powder n 1 tablespoon sesame oil n 1/3 cup minced green onion n 3-4 hamburger buns n Mayonnaise n 1 medium jalapeño, cut into thin slices n 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves Yields: 3-4 burgers DIRECTIONS Step 1: Combine the sugar, rice vinegar and warm water. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Add the carrot, cucumber, onion and radishes to the pickling liquid (the liquid should cover everything). Let sit for about 20 minutes then drain the liquid. Step 2: Combine the pork, soy sauce, ginger powder, garlic powder, sesame oil and green

onion. Form into 1/2-inchthick patties. Step 3: Prepare a gas or charcoal grill or a grill pan at medium-high heat. Brush and oil the grates. Step 4: Make a thumbprint in the center of each burger then place burgers on the grill. Grill the first side until grill marks form, about 4 minutes. Flip and continue to cook until an instant-read thermometer reads 155° F, about 3 minutes more. Step 5: Remove the burgers from the grill and let rest on a plate. Place the buns on the grill and toast until grill marks form on both sides, about 1 minute per side. Step 6: Spread a small amount of mayonnaise on the upper and lower halves of the buns. Lay the burger on the lower bun. Top with a quarter of the pickled carrot, cucumber and onion; jalapeno slices; a few cilantro leaves; pickled radishes; and the top half of the bun. About the Inspiration Sarah’s super burger is based on bánh mí, a Vietnamese-style sandwich made with baguette bread and filled with one or more meats (commonly pork meatballs or chicken) and vegetables like cucumber, cilantro and radishes. There are many variations of the bánh mí sandwich, which shares its name with the Vietnamese word for “bread.” It was made popular in Saigon in the late 1950s. You can still find it across Vietnam as a popular street food. Today, the sandwich is also gaining popularity in the U.S.

Sarah Kemp serves as a food service assistant in the Noble Research Institute’s cafeteria while working toward her degree in graphic design from Southeastern Oklahoma State University. Kemp grew up just down the street from Noble’s main campus in Ardmore. She credits a close family friend originally from China with teaching her how to cook. PHOTO SUBMITTED Holiday 2019 u Southern Oklahoma Living 25

Making the last days count Hospice services provide comfort, ease pain of caregivers’ last days with loved ones By Sierra Rains


hrissie Minor’s step-father, Dennis, did not want to die in a hospital. The nights were worse than the days when Dennis fell ill and was diagnosed with a terminal case of stage four liver cancer, Minor said. However, help was on its way. It would just take a visit to the emergency room for her to realize it. “They told us that they felt like he needed hospice to come and be there for us, to help support us emotionally and physically,” Minor said. It’s been about six months since Dennis passed away, but Minor said she still looks back on those tough days with a deep gratitude for the Cross Timbers Hospice workers who became like family to her. “It was like having an older brother or sister that has been through what you’re going through and they can relate to you,” Minor said. “They’re there for you, they give you a shoulder to cry on whenever you need it. They are part of my family. They have been since they first came in.” Using hospice services does not mean giving up, said Cross Timbers Hospice Human Relations Director Natalie Parrish. 26 Southern Oklahoma Living u Holiday 2019

Cross Timbers Hospice Human Relations Director Natalie Parrish holds a sign describing hospice while at her office. PHOTO SUBMITTED

Instead, hospice gives those with terminal illness and their families the opportunity to live each day to the fullest, surrounded by a loving community of family and friends. “I will tell you that, personally, I’ve had family members use hospice and the biggest thing that we hear from patients afterwards is ‘We don’t know why we didn’t call you guys sooner. You were such an intricate part of the end of the lives of our mom, or our dad, or whomever, and we just wish we would’ve known all of the stuff you offered sooner’,” Parrish said. To qualify for hospice, patients have to have a terminal diagnosis with less than six months to live. This often includes heart disease, dementia, respiratory diseases, Parkinson’s disease and cancer diagnosies, Parrish said. “Their daily activities, anything from

dressing themselves to feeding themselves to bathing, anytime those things might start to decline, that’s when you may be thinking its time to call hospice,” Parrish said. “Because the more help they need, the more resources we can provide.” As the only non-profit hospice organization in Southern Oklahoma, all services relating to a patient’s life-limiting illness at Cross Timbers Hospice are free. Over 70 employees and 50 volunteers consisting of Registered Practical Nurses, Licensed Practical Nurses, social workers, counselors, bereavement coordinators and home health aides make up the staff at Cross Timbers. “We go wherever you live. So whether that be in your home or in a nursing facility, an assisted living center— we come into wherever you call home,” Parrish said.

“It was like having an older brother or sister that has been through what you’re going through and they can relate to you.” — Chrissie Minor

When Minor’s family began using hospice services, they brought a hospital bed and a wheel chair, among other things, into their home to help assist her step-father. “They brought in so much that I couldn’t have went out and got on my own,” Minor said. Hospice workers changed his bed, bathed him and explained all of his medications to him, allowing Minor some much needed rest. And even when they weren’t there, a nurse was only a phone call away. “They gave me a phone number I could call and a nurse would always call me right back,” Minor said. “They would ask me if I felt like I needed them to come out. If I said yes they were there within an hour. And they were really wonderful with him. They helped me more than they could have ever known.” RNs and LPNs provide the patient with nursing care as needed and home health aides can help with light house keeping and things of that nature, alleviating some of the burden on caregivers, Parrish said. Volunteers will also sit in with patients while caregivers complete errands. “A lot of the times when someone is diagnosed with a terminal illness they may end up home bound or basically bed bound,” Parrish said. “The caregivers struggle a lot because they can’t leave them alone and

they don’t have time to go do their normal things and daily activities that they do.” After the patient has passed away, hospice continues to provide emotional support for the caregiver. Part of that means helping caregivers organize funeral services and go through paperwork. “You’re not supposed to know what you’re doing,” Parrish said. “So when you go to plan a funeral or you go to do those things, you’re not supposed to know how to do all of that stuff. It’s not normal, it’s not natural.” Following her step-father’s death, Minor moved out of Oklahoma, but that didn’t stop the hospice workers she came to know so well from keeping in contact with her. “I know that if I need to talk to them all I have to do is pick up the phone,” Minor said. When medical treatment cannot provide a cure, hospice can provide comfort and ease the pain of both the caregiver and the patient during their end-of-life journey, Parrish said. Minor said hospice was there when she needed them the most and without them, enduring her step-father’s passing would’ve been much more difficult. “I couldn’t have done it without them and I really appreciate them being there for me when they were there for me.”

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Family-fun for the holidays Events at Chickasaw Cultural Center and Artesian Hotel offer multiple celebration opportunities “Departments within the Chickasaw Nahere are almost tion decorate the trees. as many fun This year’s theme is ways to enjoy ‘Celebrating Christmas the Christmas season Through the Decades’ in Chickasaw Country and I think we’re goas there are gifts in ing to have trees in the Santa’s sleigh. style of the 1950s and The Chickasaw Cul- Lonè Beasley 60s and even further back. We’re looking tural Center and the forward to seeing the Artesian Hotel, Casino & Spa are gearing up for what will creativity of all our different be a busy holiday season filled Chickasaw Nation teams,” she with beautifully decorated said. “Celebration of Lights” is trees, lights, candy canes, cookanother popular Yuletide preies, 19th century style carolers, visits with Santa and Mrs. sentation the cultural center coordinates for the enjoyment Claus and more. Valorie Walters, executive of- of its visitors. “‘Celebration of Lights’ is a ficer for the Chickasaw Cultural wonderful Christmas exhibit Center, says this year’s “Festival in which we position Christof Trees” centers on a historical mas-themed displays throughtheme. Chickasaw Nation


28 Southern Oklahoma Living u Holiday 2019

The Artesian Hotel, Casino & Spa is located at 1001 W 1st St., Sulphur, Okla. PHOTO SUBMITTED

out the entire drive through of our campus,” Walters said. “They depict Santa Claus, his elves, fairy tales, animals and other various seasonal themes.” Walters said both ‘Festival Trees’ and ‘Celebration of Lights’ start Dec. 2 and are available for viewing through Dec. 31. “We’re going to kick off with Santa and cookies for visitors,” she said. Candy canes will be given out on succeeding nights. There is no admission fee. Saturday, Dec. 14, features additional special events, including a “Christmas Celebration and Holiday Art Market” which Walters says features

Native art. “We have wonderful Chickasaw artists who produce unique items that make great Christmas gifts,” she said. Dec. 14 is the day Santa will be available for free photos and also when children can write St. Nick a letter and hear a story read by Mrs. Claus. Also open to children is the opportunity to decorate cookies they can take with them. Hands-on craft making opportunities include pipe cleaner snowflakes, pony bead bracelets, snowflake paper plates and yarn baskets. SEE EVENTS, PAGE 31

Holiday 2019 u Southern Oklahoma Living 29


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The Chickasaw Cultural Center is located at 867 Charles Cooper Memorial Rd., Sulphur, Okla. PHOTO SUBMITTED

EVENTS Continued from Page 28

Family-friendly Christmas movies will be featured that day. A special “Christmas Dinner and a Movie” are on tap for the evening of Dec. 14. “We’ll have traditional Christmas dishes that visitors will pick from as we transform our café area to a beautiful restaurant to serve a four-course meal. After dining, we’ll enjoy that great Christmas classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” “We love to celebrate Christmas at the Chickasaw Cultural Center,” Walters said. Six minutes (2.6 miles) east of the Chickasaw Cultural Center sits the Chickasaw Nation owned The Artesian Hotel, Casino & Spa. It, too, is preparing a Christmas extravaganza. Justin Williams, area general manager, says The Artesian’s Classic Christmas celebration kicks off the weekend following Thanksgiving and continues to Dec. 31. “We begin stringing over a hundred thousand LED lights in October,” Williams said. “We line the rooftop of the building and then take them all-around the building’s trees and shrubs. “We also decorate the interior of the building with approximately 20 Christmas trees on display, not including the 20foot Christmas tree that greets visitors when they walk into our hotel lobby” he said.

Children and adults alike who want to see what a real reindeer looks like can have their photo taken with one Saturday, Dec. 14, 21. Those same Saturdays feature breakfast with Santa and a story with Mrs. Claus around a fireplace. Carriage rides take place three weekends starting Friday, Dec. 6. Those same weekends feature Victorian-style carolers sharing the Christmas spirit in song along with Mrs. Claus’s milk, hot cocoa, cider and cookies. Williams said The Artesian Hotel is hearkening back to an earlier era with this year’s classic Christmas theme because of the hotel’s storied history that goes back to the early 1900s. “We’re trying to present the traditional Christmas that makes everybody just feel that joyous Christmas spirit,” he said. That’s what people are going to experience by coming to The Artesian, staying here or even coming for a day trip to see the reindeer, different events - to have the experience and build memories.” For additional details about Christmas events at the Chickasaw Cultural Center, call (580) 622-7130 or visit For more information about Christmas events at The Artesian Hotel, Casino & Spa, call (855) 455-5255 or visit Holiday 2019 u Southern Oklahoma Living 31

A simple act How to help those experiencing homelessness this season The Grace Center


m reminded of the moral tenet, “It is better to give than to receive,” each holiday season. The phrase becomes a lyric stuck in my head and plays over and over again. It starts around Thanksgiving when students conduct Thanksgiving food drives and churches serve turkey, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie to those who might otherwise go without. The motif continues with the ringing of the brass bell and the sound of coins hitting the bottom of the Salvation 32 Southern Oklahoma Living u Holiday 2019

Army red kettle. The Center of Southern words rush through Oklahoma, I get asked my brain when readhow might someone ing headlines “Shop help the homeless With A Cop is another during the holidays. success,” and “No child It’s a good question. left behind on Angel Sadly, we know that Tree program.” for our community For those who give members experiencLaura at the holidays, you ing homelessness, the Eastes Akers holidays will merely be know what a gift it is to be able to give. The another day of hardsimple act of giving — a can of ship, not time spent with famgreen beans, spare change or a ily or friends gathered around $20 bill, or a present for a child for a home-cooked meal and at risk of being forgotten at counting blessings. Christmas — can bring happiWhat I’ve learned from Grace ness to ourselves as well as the Day Center clients, is to keep one receiving the gift. it simple. A warm smile and In my work with The Grace friendly chit chat go a long

way for those who are usually ignored on the streets. Striking up a conversation lets the other person feel cared for and seen. People experiencing homelessness desperately need encouragement and hope. It’s the simple act of conversation that might be the greatest gift. That’s something we can all give. — Laura Eastes Akers is the executive director of The Grace Center of Southern Oklahoma, a nonprofit organization committed to preventing homelessness while providing essential services to those in the community experiencing homelessness.

Holiday Care Packages for the Homeless The Grace Center of Southern Oklahoma will celebrate the holidays with Day Center clients during the month of December by handing out holiday care packages. The packages contain beneficial items to those spending a majority of their time on the streets of Ardmore. The Grace Center seeks the following items: n men’s and women’s underwear, socks, hats, gloves, scarves,

n hand and feet warmers, n travel-size toothpaste, travel-size shampoo, deodorant, brush, comb, n women’s hygiene products, n blankets, n granola bars, cheese crackers, and trail mix Those who wish to donate, may bring items to the Grace Center, 11 A St. NW or call (580) 2232027.

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Leading the way Ardmore’s Chamber of Commerce leadership programs inspire youth By Tiffany Ditto Contributing Writer


here are many truths that Mahatma Gandhi spoke in his lifetime, but none more well known and true than, “for today’s youth to be tomorrow’s leaders, they need to have a good foundation.” Ghandi’s words are the foundation of the Greater Ardmore Youth Leadership Program, and striving to be one of the next great leaders is something Plainview High School Junior Addison Youderian takes seriously. “Leadership is about taking charge, and standing for what you believe in,” she said. “No matter how big or small the change you want to make, it always needs a leader to get it done. Leadership is also being that person everyone can look up to and be inspired to make changes in the world as well. “ Youderian is a recent graduate of the Ardmore Youth Leadership Program where she was given a behind the scenes look at leadership roles across Ardmore. The seven-month program, part of the Ardmore Chamber of Commerce, aims to teach area high school sophomores, juniors and seniors about personality and leadership styles, local government, the arts, criminal justice, economic development and ethical decision-making. “Tomorrow’s future rests on the shoulders of area youth,” Program Director Annilisa Peevy previously told the Ardmoreite. “We have a responsibility to provide them with the opportunities to develop their leadership skills and utilize them in all aspects of their life.” The program is highly competitive, but for those chosen it offers an opportunity for future leaders to tour different jobs to see how working in those positions impact those in the community and impact their own sense of fulfillment in life. Youderian said the two tours that stuck out the most to her were the Ardmore Water Plant and the courthouse. However, on-site visits aren’t the only

The Youth Leadership Greater Ardmore Class of 2018/2019 included, not in order, Lauren Austin, Ty Clemens, Jessie Gray, Amaya Gordon, Billy Graysneck, Peyton Jones, Arianna Peterman, Alondra Rodriguez, Lindyn Ross, Jada Terry, Madaline Turner, Savannah Wagner, Anna Wang, Marla Williams, Addison Youderian, andJessica Zimmerman. Not Pictured: Aaron Henninger, Easton Sherfield and Parker Wallace.

activity participants get to be a part of. The program also consists of lectures, discussion groups, simulations and other leadership activities. “The Ardmore Youth Leadership Program has taught me that there is no limit to what you can do,” Youderian said. “There are endless possibilities to what you can do not only for your school, but for your community. This program also taught me to be the person that takes charge, and be the change you want to see in your community. It’s also about setting a good example for others to look up upon, so you can hopefully inspire them to start a chain reaction.” Youderian plans to attend Oklahoma State University for her undergraduate degree. Afterwards, she hopes to attend the University of Oklahoma, in Norman, to complete their Dentistry Program. She hopes to use the leadership skills she learned throughout the program to make a meaningful impact in the community she will one day practice dentistry in.

Addison Youderian (left) and Annilisa Peevy, Program Director (right)

“Learning these things in the program will help me achieve the goals for myself,” she said. “It takes a leader to stand up for what is right, and I definitely believe that this program will not only help me in the career path I choose, but in the real world.” Learn more about the Chamber’s leadership programs at PHOTOS SUBMITTED

Holiday 2019 u Southern Oklahoma Living 35

Who we are makes a difference Learn to detect suicide thinking and help a person in trouble


ven though Suicide is scary and personal, the average person can learn to detect suicide thinking and help a person in trouble. The information given here is not meant to replace professional assessment and advice. If you have concerns about yourself, a loved one or colleague you should seek professional medical help at your earliest convenience. Concepts used in these discussions are widely accepted in suicide intervention programs (ASIST®, SAFETALK®) Suicide hot line 800-273-8255 Thinking that a loved one might be in that dark place causes fear in the hearts of parents, families and communities. Why would someone become trapped in suicide thinking? It is confusing and doesn’t seem rational. In spite of this, there are things that we do know that can help. As an example, most people with suicide thinking will give some clue that they are in trouble. Our task as a helper is to know where and how to look and how to help, something the everyday average person can do with just a little information. SUICIDE THINKING DOESN’ T MEAN YOU ARE MENTALLY ILL. More than 90% of suicide thinkers or those who have survived a suicide attempt go on to live productive, safe and full lives. Their association with suicide thinking or behavior does not have to define who they are for the rest of their lives — 85% of those same people were helped by a first aid intervention from someone who was not a mental health professional. With some key knowledge of what’s going on in the mind of a suicide thinking person, any of us can make a difference in the lives of family, friends or even a stranger by intervening and helping them 36 Southern Oklahoma Living u Holiday 2019

get treatment. It’s important that we don’t try to solve their problems ourselves. It is essential that they seek mental health treatment. Mental health professionals do the bulwark of providing mental health recovery for those in need.


Anyone with appropriate training can provide suicide first aid safety for a person thinking about suicide. The goal is to Prevent the Immediate Risk Of Death. We need to detect the problem and help the person rediscover their reason for living. The next task is to quickly connect them to professionals who can help provide safety. It’s a lot like CPR — assessing the situation, providing an airway and restoring circulation. Suicide thinking is almost always the result of pain and loss. Suicide thinking often begins when heartache becomes hopelessness and when depression becomes anguish. The journey to suicide begins as an internal process. It is something we can’t easily observe and is different for each of us. The casual observer may have a tendency to minimize someone else’s pain by comparing events in their own life or someone they know. They may make the judgment that the problems being expressed should not reach the level of intensity that would result in suicide thinking. (Its not your perception of events, it is their perception.) It is easy to dismiss the idea that suicide thinking is in play and miss the opportunity to help a person through this “moment in time.” Our basic tendency as humans is to avoid the uncomfortable. Suicide thinking is often “a moment in time.” Suicide thinking usually comes and

Dr Harry Galoob MD, Master ASIST trainer, child abuse medical examiner, Board of Directors Sara’s project, Sara’s House- children’s advocacy center medical director.

Harry Galoob

Donnell Cox, MeD, Master ASIST trainer, Crisis program coordinator for Sara’s Project Foundation

Donnell Cox goes for most people. It becomes dangerous when thoughts come and stay and a person perceives there is no one who will allow them to tell what is on their mind without judging them or minimizing their pain. We often cannot identify when suicide thoughts begin or if they are active. We do know that almost all suicide thinking people try to tell someone they are in trouble. However the message is not often clear. They don’t come right out and say it. This is understandable, due to their fear of being judged, disrespected, embarrassed and feeling like a burden to their loved ones. These feelings will lead the person to not be forthcoming or clear in their telling. Dr. Tom Joiner, a psychologist at Florida State University, is a national researcher in suicide issues. He believes that the desire to die is not what drives a person toward suicide. They desperately want to get away from the pain that has led to suicide thoughts. This may be psychic pain, physical pain or both. They are stuck in an uncertain situation. On the one hand they are afraid to share their thoughts with others but on the other, they are desperate for someone to ask them about their thoughts and give them permission to talk about what has brought them to this place. They want a return to hope. For the suicide thinking person, hope is as important to the human spirit as food, water, and air is


In recent years there has been an alarming increase in youth suicide, particularly

with ages 14 through 24. This has led Sara’s Project to focus more on training people who work with youth. This includes educators, ministers, law enforcement personnel, Moms and Dads and anyone interested in interacting with youth. We have also adapted an intervention presentation appropriate for eighth through twelfth grade and have trained approximately 2,000 children to date. We know that “Kids tell Kids” and not adults about thoughts of suicide, even though the adults are the ones that could provide the kind of safety needed and connection to resources. So why would they not tell adults? In our interaction ❁ crystals ❁ incense ❁ reiki ❁ crafts ❁ crystals ❁ incense ❁ reiki ❁ crafts with these 2000 children, they have overwhelming told us that: n When they did tell adults they were not taken seriously Check our Facebook for monthly specials! n Their pain was minimized n They were often Buy 1 One, Get 1 One Free of Equal or Lesser Value met with anger, disTrade-Ins Welcome may or disbelief. 580-223-7323 • 8 E. Main St. n They were Ardmore, OK 73401 treated as damaged Tuesday - Saturday 10:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. goods no longer to be trusted or cred-

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ible. So children need a different message than adults — a different approach. If suicide first aid is to be successful with children, the message and dialogue should be: n Suicide thinking is not “crazy thinking” n Suicide is confused thinking n I am willing to help you move toward healthy thinking and living. Sara’s Project has been providing suicide intervention training since 2000. Our trainers have presented Applied Suicide Intervention Skills training to more than 10,000 persons in the Oklahoma area and in surrounding states. The foundation partners with LivingWorks Incorporated, a group led by Dr. Richard Ramsey and the University of Calgary, Canada who now have three generations of research on suicide issues and have developed a model for intervention called Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST™). This organization’s research reflects much of what Dr. Tom Joiner’s work discovered — that most people with suicide thoughts can be helped with a suicide first aid approach. The LivingWorks model for intervention is so effective that it has been adopted by 82 countries world wide along with all branches of the U.S. military. Inquiries can be made to Sarah’s Project Ardmore, Okla., (580) 226-7283

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n Don’t be afraid to ask if there are thoughts of suicide. Asking does not cause suicide to occur. n Be clear and direct — don’t beat around the bush. “You aren’t going to hurt yourself, are you?” is not clear and direct and gives the perception that you are afraid to deal with the issue) n A clear and direct question is, “Are you thinking of killing yourself, Are you thinking of suicide?” n If they say yes, your next response should be “tell me about that.” Then be quiet and listen. n Don’t be judgmental (Saying, “you can’t do that, that’s crazy, etc.” is a clear indication that you are afraid to discuss the issue. ) n Don’t share your personal story (this is about them, not you) n When they have told their story, the two of you can proceed to get help n “It sounds like while part of you wants to die, there is also a part that wants to live. Can we find some help? n Help them find treatment ASAP. (ie. Mental health, Doctor, ER, etc.) n Don’t agree to keep it a secret. All of this is very scary. But it is doable for the average person. Simply allowing the suicide thinking person to acknowledge their thoughts and to be able to verbalize them to some one in a non judgmental environment can stop the process in most suicide thinking persons. SUICIDE HOT LINE 800-273-8255

n Suicide hot line 800-273-8255 n Twitter- The Lifeline @800273TALK n TexTing- 741-741 n Lighthouse Behavioral Health Center 1-800-522-1090 n Help line-211 n Emergency- 911 n Gambling-800-522-4700 For information about Suicide intervention training: Sara’s Project, (580) 226-7283;

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to the human body. Any of us can provide suicide first aid (Prevent the Immediate Risk of Death) with appropriate training and a willingness to help a person rediscover hope. For this first aid to work, it must be provided clearly, honestly, compassionately and without judgment.

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Favorite time of the year your friends and family, grab the perfect holiday decorations, he Holiday seaand enjoy the delison in Southcious food on hand. ern Oklahoma Another must-atis one of my favorite tend event is the Festimes of the year, and tival of Lights Auction I’m sure it is for many on Nov. 12. This aucTyler Young of you as well! The tion is held annually end of Fall and start at the Ardmore Conof Winter are full of vention Center and community events that make raises money to be directly Ardmore special in addition invested into the Festival of to the traditional and fun ac- Lights Drive-Thru by aiding tivities. From fairs to parades in the maintenance of existing and auctions to theater, there displays and the addition of is always something festive for new features. visitors and Ardmoreites alike. This year’s theme is “Jingle Fall is full of fairs across the & Mingle” so come ready with country and Ardmore takes your holiday spirit! It all kicks ours seriously. As local families off at 5:30 p.m. with the silent and visitors from all around auction. This portion includes know, this is the time for Ar- all kinds of items ranging from dmore’s two famous arts and top toys and gifts for Christmas craft fairs: The Fall Festival at to certificates for restaurants, the Ardmore Convention Cen- movies, professional services ter, which kicks off Friday, Nov. and more. Then, at approxi8 and runs through Sunday, mately 7 p.m., the Live portion Nov. 11. At the same time, the gives attendees the opportunity Carter County Arts and Crafts to bid for and win unique packFestival & Food Fair will be at ages and items to treat themHardy Murphy Coliseum Nov. selves or offer as great holiday 10 and 11. Combined, these gifts. This Ardmore tradition community mainstays feature offers the perfect opportunity over 300 booths with vendors to get a head start on your from across the region offering holiday gifts and all for a great homemade arts, craft goods, cause, so don’t miss the Festival tasty food, and all kinds of of Lights Auction! other. Attending these shows Lastly, the celebrated Fesare the highlight of many area tival of Lights Drive-Thru at families so come to Ardmore, Ardmore’s Regional Park opens pick out the perfect gifts for Nov. 18 following the annual Ardmore Tourism Authority


38 Southern Oklahoma Living u Holiday 2019

The Fall Festival at the A rd m o re Co nve n t i o n Center and the Carter County Arts and Crafts Festival & Food Fair at Hardy Murphy Coliseum feature over 300 booths with vendors from across the region offering homemade arts, craft goods, tasty food, and all kinds of other. FILE PHOTOS/ THE ARDMOREITE

Chigger Chase Run through Ardmore’s Regional Park. This 1.5-mile drive through vibrant Christmas lights is the largest holiday light display in southern Oklahoma. Admission is free, donations are accepted by volunteering organizations. The Drive-Thru is truly both an Ardmore Tradition, nearly every local family makes a point to visit before the season ends! It’s the perfect time for people of all ages and features more than 100 displays. It is also an amazing attraction for visitors, with over 100,000 total visitors each year. As you make your way to Ardmore’s Regional Park, tune your car stereo to a favorite Christmas music station enjoy as the holiday season comes to life. On behalf of the Ardmore

Tourism Authority I would like to wish you all a very happy Holiday season and hope everyone can visit or attend one of the many holiday events and attractions Ardmore has to offer this year. I know you won’t regret it! — Tyler Young, Vice President Ardmore Tourism Authority

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ARDMORE 310 West Main St. 1915 N. Commerce 580.223.5000 *The $50 bonus is taxable income. For the new customer, the bonus is considered interest and will be reported on IRS Form 1099-INT. For the referring customer, the bonus is considered miscellaneous income and will be reported on IRS Form 1099-MISC.

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Get your 2020 resolutions started

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f you’re determined to “lose weight” and “eat healthier” in 2020 you’re in good company. These two goals have been Diana Fleming among the top five New Year’s resolutions for decades. No surprise since our super delicious holiday eating bonanza of candy, snacks, cookies, cakes, chocolates, appetizers, meat, mashed potatoes, casseroles and alcohol has translated into a weight gain of 1-5 pounds on the scale for most of us. And for some of us that weight never goes away. Is there any hope? Yes! Learn how to add more nutrition bombs to your meal. These foods are typically high in fiber, which is a marker for more vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients, basically what your body needs to function at peak performance. And, here’s the easy way to do it. Eat more beans, veggies, fruits and whole grains — sprinkle in some nuts and seeds for good measure. They fill you up, not out, and help kill all those annoying cravings set off during the holidays. They’re proven to help us live longer healthier lives. So, in the Southern tradition of comfort foods, here are three tasty fiber food recipes to give you a great start to a healthy and slimming New Year. Note: serve the Good Luck Black-Eyed Peas over cooked brown rice that you can make according to package instructions, or simply reheat frozen cooked brown rice. Want more healthy fiber rich recipes? Sign up for a free newsletter at FullPlateLiving. org/Ardmoreite. — Diana Fleming, PhD, LDN, DipACLM Nutritionist, Full Plate Living PHOTOS SUBMITTED

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n Women Promoting Women Annual Luncheon at Ardmore

Nov. 2

n USMTA North American Muay Thai Championships at the Ardmore Convention Center

n Walk to End Alzheimer’s at 7:30 a.m. at Regional Park n Hills of Oklahoma Tour cycling race in Davis n Native American Heritage Day at 10 a.m. at the Chickasaw Cultural Culture Center

Nov. 3

Nov. 15

Nov. 16 n Shaw’s RC Truck Nationals 2019 at Shaw’s RC Track

Nov. 21

n Daylight savings time ends

n Jason Lyle Black at 7:30 p.m. at The Goddard Center

n OklaMania IV: The Show at the Ardmore Convention Center

Nov. 23

Dec. 6

n Weimaraner Dog Show at Hardy Murphy Coliseum n Santa’s Workshop 6 p.m.-10 p.m. at Regional Park n Carriage rides, carolers, refreshments, candle light tour at Artesian Hotel & Spa n Candlelight Tour in the Flower Park at Chickasaw National Recreation Area

Dec. 13 n Texas Boys Choir at 7:30 p.m. at The Goddard Center n Carriage rides, carolers, refreshments, story time & pictures with Mrs. Claus at Artesian Hotel & Spa

Nov. 5

n 24th Annual Chigger Chase at Regional Park

n 1st Tuesday Comedy Night at the Garage in Ardmore

n Festival of Lights Drive-Thru opens at Regional Park

n Profiles and Perspectives: Fred Provenza, Ph.D. at the Ardmore Convention Center

n Prophets and Outlaws at the FROG at 9:30 p.m. at Two Frogs Grill

Nov. 6

Nov. 28

n Creating the Hero: The Graphic Art of Michael Schwab Exhibit opens at The Goddard Center

n Thanksgiving

Nov. 29

n Christmas Celebration and Holiday Art Market at Chickasaw Cultural Center

Nov. 7

n Casey Donahew & Copper Chief & Austin Meade “Fall Jam” 2019 at Heritage Hall

Dec. 15

n Ayowa: Garden to Gourmet Agritour at Chickasaw Cultural Center

Nov. 8 n 48th Annual Carter County Arts and Crafts Festival & Food Fair at Hardy Murphy Coliseum n Veterans Celebration at Chickasaw Cultural Center

Nov. 30 n Christmas in Sulphur Opening Night Festival at 5 p.m.


n Candle Light Tour at Fort Washita

Dec. 2

Nov. 9

n Celebration of Lights and Festival of Trees at Chickasaw Cultural Center

n Veterans Day Blue River Trout Derby in Tishomingo

Dec. 3

n Paradise & Mill Street Little Market at the Ardmore Depot District

n Parade of Lights at 6 p.m. at Ardmore Main Street

Nov. 11

n Christmas Tree Lighting and Christmas Market 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. at Central Park

n Veterans Day n Vets Alive! Veterans Day parade and celebration, 10 p.m. to in Sulphur

Nov. 13 n Recycling Event with Citizens Bank & Ardmore Beautification Council, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Ardmore

Nov. 14 n Opening night for Ardmore Little Theatre’s “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” 42 Southern Oklahoma Living u Holiday 2019

Dec. 4 n 42nd Annual Toys for Tots Southern Oklahoma Children’s Christmas Parade at 10:30 a.m. at Ardmore Main Street n Christmas Tree Lighting & Living Windows Walk from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in Tishomingo

Dec. 14 n Carriage rides, carolers, refreshments, breakfast with Santa, pictures with Santa & reindeer, story time with Mrs. Claus at Artesian Hotel & Spa n Johnston County Christmas Parade in Tisomingo

n The Bolshoi Ballet presents The Nutcracker by Tchaikovsky at 5 p.m. at The Goddard Center

Dec. 20 n Carriage rides, carolers, refreshments, story time & pictures with Mrs. Claus at Artesian Hotel & Spa

Dec. 21 n Carriage rides, carolers, refreshments, breakfast with Santa, pictures with Santa & reindeer, story time with Mrs. Claus at Artesian Hotel & Spa

Dec. 23 n Hanukkah

Dec. 24 n Christmas Eve

Dec. 25 n Christmas Day

Dec. 26 n Kwanzaa

Dec. 5

Dec. 27

n Festival of the Trees Dinner at 6 p.m. at The Goddard Center

n Koe Wetzel / Muscadine Bloodline / Chris Colston “Winter Bash” at Heritage Hall

Dec. 31 n New Year’s Eve

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