Part of life is growing older, and I have the distinct pleasure of hitting the half-century mark this week. If you would have asked me in my younger days if I would have lived the life that I have, I doubt that I could have imagined where I would be.
With the challenges I faced and experiences that helped shape me, I am grateful to have had an opportunity to help make Oklahoma be a better place to live. “Making things better” should be a goal for all of us – it is the rent we pay to be alive.
My latest endeavor is to lead the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA). Over the past four years, I have had a fantastic opportunity to work on behalf of the most precious resource we have – Oklahoma’s children. I had never worked at a nonprofit before, and among the first things I had to learn is how it is different from holding political office. Still, fundraising takes up about the same amount of time to ensure the bills are paid and the mission presses forward.
During these COVID-19 times, every nonprofit is struggling with both increased services and reduced revenues. We all are working to serve our missions with fewer dollars available due to the pandemic and economic struggles. For my birthday this year, I have asked friends, family, and you for only two things.
First, please respond to the U.S. Census. How much Oklahoma will get in resources from the federal government over the next decade is determined by our Census numbers, especially for Oklahoma’s children. If we undercount, we will not get all of the tax dollars back from Washington to which we are entitled.
If you have yet to respond, we have an event Friday, September 18, at the State Capitol to do just that. From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, the Census “Sprint to the Finish” event will give you a chance to drive through and respond to the Census. Assistance with filling out their forms online is available. Completing your Census form at the event will allow you to be entered in a raffle for restaurant gift cards. Social distancing will be observed, and Census responses will be made on sanitized computer pads. Responding to the Census now is crucial because the counting ends on September 30.
The second thing I asked for those of us who have the means to do so to please make a donation to your favorite nonprofit organization. Having been the beneficiary of fantastic youth organizations helped shape who I am, leading me to dedicate my life to public service. All those nonprofit organizations helping this generation of children who need support.
OICA is helping raise awareness and shape policy for Oklahoma’s children, so please consider a donation to us. The link is https://tinyurl.com/JoeFBFundraiser to make a donation to assist our mission, or you can mail it to OICA at 2915 N. Classen Boulevard, Suite 320 in Oklahoma City, OK 73106. If you make a donation to another charitable organization due to this message, please post on the Facebook link that you supported a worthy charity or organization.
Please help this generation of young Oklahomans have the same or better opportunities that my generation had. This week, my “birthday week,” is a great time to do your part to make a difference. And that will make this 50th birthday the best one for me yet!