Po-Hi Friends of Rachel volunteer more than 3,500 hours in community

Ponca City Now - June 18, 2019 4:23 pm

First row, from left, Kate Burleson, Jazmin Daine, Dakota Palmer Second row, Destiny Sims, Salena Mirales, Jacob Dodge, Raina DeNoya, Michael Ramey. Third row, Matt Nester, Kirsten Bruce, Alexis Lattimer, and Jeff Ramey. Many club members are not pictured.

The F.O.R. Club (Friends of Rachel) at Ponca City High School serve the Ponca City community and friends of Po-Hi.

From its inception in the spring of 2016 until now, the members of the F.O.R. Club have volunteered more than  3,500 hours in the community and the surrounding area.

As president in 2016-2017, Katie Nichols had a vision of a Chain of Kindness. This chain was to represent the number of random acts of kindness observed at Po-Hi. Students and faculty were to help watch for these random acts of kindness.

Katie set into action the words of Rachel Joy Scott, for whom the organization is named: “Remember that in order to make a world of difference it has to start…with you and your heart.”

Under Katie’s leadership, club members participated in parades, served food to veterans in the park for Veterans Day, and made presentations to the community and at schools.

One of Katie’s concerns was taking care of the incoming freshmen. She initiated a “Welcome to Po-Hi” lunch area, freshmen tours of the school, radio announcements, and pay-it-forward days. She also created informational packages for students and “welcome” cards for teachers and staff.

In addition, the F.O.R. Club participated in the Okie Celebration at the Phillips 66 Refinery. Katie Nichols demonstrated over 100 hours of volunteer service before she graduated.

In 2017-2018, senior Madison Androes took the reins as president. She established group leadership roles, utilizing Elaine Duff, Becca Stinson, Gabe Golay, Kelly Sullivan, and Tinika Bright. Madison elaborated on Katie’s idea for the Chain of Kindness and started the second semester with 254 links.

She continued most of the events initiated by Katie Nichols and added more activities, including leadership days; QPR (Gatekeepers); a self-defense class conducted by Chris Hand; working with other clubs and organizations to complete projects such as “Queen for a Day” with the “Givers” and assisting Santa’s Cause; appreciation meals for teachers; advocating for teachers at the State Capitol; free movies open to the community and school; birthday line-jumper cards; teacher-of-the-year gifts; Rachel’s Challenge week; Cookies and Kool-Aid for 8th graders; a book drive for Children’s Hospital in Oklahoma City; Food for Friends; monthly meeting updates when possible with the Contractor Safety Alliance (the club’s main supporters); and helping to start a F. O.R. Club in Wichita.

When Madison graduated, she had accumulated 189 volunteer hours. She said, “I would tell others that volunteering is really worthwhile, for you and any other lives that you touched. You get to help everyone around you grow and even help yourself grow into a better person.”

Jacob Dodge, the 2018-2019 president, said of his 270 hours of volunteer service, “I enjoy doing all of the community service. More than anything else, I love to see the impact it leaves on the community.”   Jacob and his presidential cabinet, Kirsten Bruce, Alexis Lattimer, Michael Ramey, and Destiny Sims, have continued the work started by their predecessors. They added to the list of club activities: Appreciation Day, Beach Day, Positive Puppies, Remind Announcements, assisting with establishing a F.O.R. Club in Pawhuska, and recognition of National School Counseling Week.

With the assistance of his cabinet and current member group, Jacob focused on the Chain of Kindness and looking for the good in others by establishing an Appreciation Week. During this week, students and staff were asked to find something positive or good and write a note to the person in appreciation of his or her deed. The Chain of Kindness grew by 540 links this year. The chain hangs on the first floor of the Howell Building and extends to the commons.

The CSA treated the students of the F.O.R. Club to a Christmas party the past two years and the active juniors and seniors to a surprise at Prom. The CSA’s support for the schools, the community, the club, and the refinery is remarkable.

“The CSA members continue to amaze me with their kindness, generosity, and ideas. The lives they have touched are innumerable,” says Terri Calhoun, F.O.R. Club advisor.

The Po-Hi F.O.R. Club has accumulated over 3,500 hours of service to the community and surrounding area, and many graduates continue their service work at the colleges they now attend. The Contractor’s Safety Alliance (CSA) first brought Rachel’s Challenge or Friends of Rachel to the community through Ponca City High School in November 2016. Rachel’s Challenge was created to inspire people to replace acts of violence, bullying, and negativity with acts of kindness, compassion, and respect.

In the spring of 2017, Terri Calhoun agreed to assist Chuck Bayha, assistant principal, with expanding the group. Halli Godbehere of the CSA stepped in as a community leader and liaison and donated over 100 hours with the students. Bobby Calhoun with Phillips 66 also served as a community leader, volunteering and working with students. Barbara Scherich and DaLana Hawkins came on board in 2017 as adviser and Principal Adviser for the F.O.R. Club.

Principal Thad Dilbeck has supported the club and its mission since the organization was formed. The adults who have worked with the F.O.R. Club look forward to seeing what this group of young people will accomplish in the coming years as they continue to serve their community and its citizens.

The F.O.R. Club relies on adults for leadership and guidance, as well as donations from the community to help sustain the efforts of the students. With the support of the CSA, Phillips 66, the Free Will Baptist Church and the First Presbyterian Church, area businesses, and groups such as the “Givers” and the National Guard, the club has grown in size and been able to expand its activities each year.



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