Ringing the Bell
One of the Rotary Club 29 annual events is the day members ring the bell for the Salvation Army all across Oklahoma City. It must be a mammoth job to organize all the volunteers, fill the slots, and keep everything moving smoothly. Club 29 has been participating in the event since 1943 so it’s a long standing tradition for the club. I remember hearing Bob Anthony talk about how his father and B.C. Clark would work a shift together until advanced age prohibited it. Even though it’s a busy time, I try to sign up every year. Most years I make it. The major motivation for me has been to support a worthy organization and also to support the legacy of Club 29.
This year I have a different motivation. One of the programs at a recent Club 29 Thursday morning breakfast meeting was on the work of the Salvation Army in Oklahoma City. We heard about the work with some of the most vulnerable people in Oklahoma City and about the outreach to those struggling with homelessness and addiction. In recent years the canteen truck goes out at night to provide warm drinks, food, warm clothing and to encourage the people living on the street to come for more services to turn their lives around. One of those people stepped up to tell us his story that morning. His name was Mark. I decided then that when I rang the bell this year, I would ring it for Mark to celebrate his recovery and in the hopes that more would be reached with the donations we receive that day.
I learned this morning that I have another reason to ring the bell. A colleague of mine died yesterday. He and his wife, Connie, were faculty at the University of Oklahoma library school. Connie died three years ago suddenly from a cancer no one suspected until it was too late for treatment. Connie had a developmentally disabled daughter. All of us were worried about the impact on Lizzie. But it turned out to be Connie’s husband, Danny, who couldn’t recover. Danny crawled into a bottle after he lost Connie and he died of his addiction. Now Lizzie has lost her mother and her step-father in three years.
Somehow having an individual to focus on rather than a page of statistics makes a message so much more powerful for me. When I ring the bell for the Salvation Army this year, it will be for Mark and for Danny: the one who reached out and asked for help and the one who didn’t. I’ll ring the bell for Lizzie and all the other family members who won’t have the presence of the people they love and need. By the time you read this column, the Club 29 day for Salvation Army will have passed but there will still be baskets out and the chance to contribute to someone reaching out for help and getting the help they need.