Tonight is the official NFL opening kickoff of the 2010 season. The New Orleans Saints will be going head to head with the Minnesota Vikings! Will you be watching?
There’s one man in particular who I wonder if he will be tuning in – Harold Williams of Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Name doesn’t ring a bell? I’d be surprised if you did recognize it. But ask Saints wide receiver Robert Meachem, and he’ll know who you’re talking about.
Before Meachem was a Super Bowl champion, a rising star at the University of Tennessee or even raising eyebrows at Booker T. Washington High School, he started his football career as a “Mabee Babie.” That is, during his elementary school years Meachem played football at The Salvation Army’s North Mabee Boys & Girls Club in Tulsa. Harold Williams was his coach.
A lot of time and events have passed since Meachem ran the Mabee field as a 4th grade football hopeful, but he still calls his old coach every now and then wanting to know how the Mabee Mustangs are doing. A pro football player keeping tabs on his elementary-years team? I know, it sounds strange, but then again, you wouldn’t be so surprised if you knew Coach Williams.
Williams left a paid position at a private high school to volunteer at The Salvation Army’s North Mabee Center where he’s been coaching for 22 years now. It was a significant change going from a privileged, private high school to a community center in what was known as one of Tulsa’s “tougher” neighborhoods, but Williams’ relationship to his team has always more resembled that of a loving parent than merely a coach.
Many times when talking to me about his team, Williams equated the boys to family. “It was like I had 40 sons. When dads were missing, I had no problem stepping in,” he said. “[My team] always said, ‘Coach loves us.’ I’d say, ‘I hope you know me and like my face because I’m going to know you the rest of your life. I love you because you are.’ ”
Over the decades he’s poured much of himself into the boys who have passed in and out of the football program. Even when the predominantly black team was pelted with racial slurs from their competitors, Williams has taught his Mabee Mustangs the importance of good sportsmanship and following the rules. He’s scrounged up pads and bought out of his own pocket mouth guards for his entire team when they couldn’t afford the most basic football equipment. He’s thrown them pizza parties and planned field trips to local museums, again on his own dime. He’s taught them skills that have made them one of the most noticed and successful football programs in the area today and helped many go on to be notable college and professional players. (Including the Dallas Cowboys’ Felix Jones, Philadelphia Eagles’ Tony Brooks and his brother Reggie Brooks of the Washington Redskins, Denver Broncos’ Marcus Nash, NY Giants’ R.W. McQuarters and the list goes on…)
The lessons and example taught by Coach Williams are lifelong and life changing. His sacrifice has inspired many kids to reject the destructive temptations of the streets and spurred them on to reach their true potential, witnessed by many unknowing NFL and college football spectators.
So it’s not hard to see why Robert Meacham gives Williams a ring once in awhile or why other “Mabee Babies” drop by the Center to watch and assist with practices.
If you do catch the NFL kickoff tonight, enjoy the game and celebrate the official start of the season! But regardless of which team you’re rooting for, take a moment to appreciate the sacrifice of Salvation Army volunteer Harold Williams. Tonight’s game and many others would be a different story if it weren’t for his investment in young athletes.
Searching for a new job is stressful and difficult, to say the least.
Measuring yourself against a daunting list of job qualifications seems to always leave you feeling a little short. Then there’s a scramble to get your references in order, and do you even dare think about all the other applicants who are competing for your same position?
And if you’ve been out of a job for an extended period of time, the whole process is even more discouraging. Unfortunately, there are many people who are all too familiar with this – just look at the country’s consistently high unemployment rate.
But on top of all of these factors, there’s another surprisingly simple element of the job hunt that most people don’t realize can play a significant role in their pursuit. What is it?
It’s true. Arriving at a job in professional attire can seal the deal on your self-confidence, or being dressed inappropriately can completely undermine it. Dressing the part can also give prospective employers a positive first impression of you even before one word is exchanged.
For many people, choosing something to wear is the least of their worries, but for others who don’t own a suit or nice shirt, it can be one of the biggest hurdles standing in between them and employment. Financial constraints could mean that buying new clothes is just not an option.
In response to this need, The Men’s Wearhouse is teaming up with 200 charities and non-profits (including some local Salvation Army’s) across the country to host the third annual National Suit Drive. Donors who drop off gently used business attire to Men’s Wearhouse stores during the month of September will receive 25% off their next purchase and the clothes will be donated to the local partnering charities.
To learn more about The National Suit Drive, visit www.nationalsuitdrive.com.
Salvation Army units in Florida and Virginia are participating in this event. If you don’t live in these areas or there’s not a Men’s Wearhouse store near you, don’t worry. You can donate your business attire directly to our Salvation Army Family Thrift Stores located around the country! Visit www.satruck.org for more information.
Tropical storm Hermine blew through south and central Texas yesterday leaving thousands of homes without power and dropping record rainfall on several cities. Hermine was downgraded to a tropical depression Tuesday night and continues to move north.
Five Salvation Army mobile feeding units (canteens) across Texas were placed on standby in San Antonio, Corpus Christi, Harlingen, McAllen, and Kerrville and are prepped to provide emergency assistance.
The Salvation Army of Texas reports their canteen in Corpus Christi has been called in to action to provide clean up kits for areas affected by excessive flooding and food for first responders and storm victims.
The Salvation Army’s canteens can be deployed within minutes and can usually serve first responders and storm victims steadily for a 24-hour period before restocking.
The mobile feeding units, staff, and volunteers will remain on call for at least three days, as Salvation Army disaster response personnel monitor Hermine’s path and the effects on each community it moves through. A satellite communications van and other emergency disaster response staff and volunteers are also on call.
To stay updated on The Salvation Army’s Hermine response, follow our Emergency Disaster Services team on Twitter @SalArmyEDS.
What did you do on Labor Day?
Maybe you spent the waning days of summer by the pool or over a sizzling grill. Or maybe you skipped town for a brief getaway. Or maybe you had a lot of big ideas but never seemed to get beyond changing out of your pajamas.
If you’re like me, your aspirations for the Labor Day holiday probably didn’t include much laboring.
But 60 volunteers in Charlotte, North Carolina had a different idea. They spent their day off cleaning, painting, and transforming a Sunday school building into an emergency overflow shelter for homeless women. The site is being opened by The Salvation Army’s Center of Hope, whose main facility is experiencing overcrowding and must sometimes turn women away.
The Salvation Army expects the overflow shelter will be ready to open next week after one more volunteer-work day.
We appreciate these volunteers and the Caldwell Memorial Presbyterian Church (who donated use of the facility) for making it possible for The Salvation Army to better to serve the city’s homeless. Thanks to their efforts, at least 50 more women will have a safe place to rest their heads at night.
You can check out a video news story on these Labor Day laborers HERE.
To learn more about The Salvation Army of Greater Charlotte, visit their website HERE