Friday
Feb172017

Urban Farmhouse: Reclaiming Lives Through Reclaimed Wood

What’s hiding in this old building? That’s probably one of the first questions you’ll ask upon arriving at Urban Farmhouse. Just beyond the beautifully crafted barn doors is one of Oklahoma’s leading furniture stores. Like the individuals that work at the location, the pieces at Urban Farmhouse have a story to tell.

The furniture retailer recently hired program participant Dominick Campos. Dominick started TEEM’s reentry program in December 2016. He quickly excelled in his coursework and found employment with Urban Farmhouse after graduating TEEM. It was the perfect fit for Dominick. Prior to his incarceration, Dominick worked alongside his brother in the reclaimed lumber industry. His imprisonment has been especially hard on his sibling. They ran a successful business together and utilized the revenue generated from the operation to care for their mother.

Urban Farmhouse is dedicated to offering second chances to individuals like Dominick. The furniture store makes their signature pieces from reclaimed wood. Their mission is to offer a second chance to not only reclaimed wood, but also reclaimed community members.

“Employment is a crucial component in helping our participants find success upon their release,” Dominick’s Case Manager Courtnie Chaney said. “It’s truly a rewarding experience when you can help an individual not only find a job, but an occupation that meets their interests and serves as a stepping stone towards their future.”

Visit Urban Farmhouse and see TEEM’s vision in action. Say hi to Dominick while you’re there—he’ll be the big guy with the huge smile. 

Friday
Feb172017

Community Advocate: West Lions Club

It’s not hard to see why the Lions Club is named after the beloved creature. Lions enjoy great fellowship and move as a unit. Their impact is felt among the entire community. For close to 100 years, the international Lions Club has been helping the community through the work of its citizens.

On January 25, 2017, TEEM was invited to speak at the West Side Lions Club chapter regarding TEEM’s mission and the societal issues program participants face. The West Side Lions Club is a long-standing supporter of TEEM’s efforts. Many of the organization’s members also attend Cornerstone Methodist Church. Cornerstone participated in TEEM’s hygiene drive and the organization became familiar with TEEM’s work through the annual drive.

“There are three-and-a-half million members worldwide,” Lions Club member Marvin Haynesworth said. “We support efforts in the city and in Langston, Oklahoma. We are excited to learn more about helping TEEM.” 

West Side Lions Club has a number of efforts that members support during the year. Their eyeglass program provides new eyewear to poverty-stricken community members. They support a horse back riding program specifically for young boys currently living in the foster care system. The mobile meals program supplies hot meals to underserved individuals and families on the Northwest side of Oklahoma City.  In addition to supporting TEEM’s toy drive, The Lions Club also ring bells for the Salvation Army during the holidays.

For information on how your organization can also partner with TEEM, please visit teem.org/volunteer.

 

Friday
Feb172017

Participant Testimonial: Mark Schuchardt

Mark Schuchardt is a changed man. After being incarcerated for over 20 years, Mark is ready to live the life of his dreams.

The Los Angeles, California, transplant firmly calls Southeast Oklahoma home. Early in his life, Mark left home to move to the city with friends. He said it was the moment when all his troubles began. Although his family is not from the area, Mark believes that relocating to Oklahoma City is the best option for his reintegration into society. With the help of his case manager at TEEM, Mark is actively searching for housing.

“Of my five incarcerations, this is the first time I have had such a clear and active reentry opportunity,” Mark said. “I have established a safety network of individuals who are thoroughly familiar with my baggage and challenges.”

Incarceration places heavy burdens on individuals and families. Mark said the hardest part of his time away was being separated from his loved ones. “I have been unavailable for family vacations, reunions, weddings, birthdays and anniversaries—I have become distanced from most of my family.” Mark is excited to meet his first grandchild—a bouncing baby boy. “I can’t wait to hold him,” Mark said. “He’s still a baby. Not even a year old yet!” 

Friday
Feb172017

Love Thy Neighbor

OKLAHOMA CITY – In celebration of a partnership with Life.Church, The Education and Employment Ministry (TEEM) accepted a $12,000 grant that will help the nonprofit continue their mission of breaking cycles of incarceration and poverty through education, personal development, and work readiness training . During t he celebration, program participants sh ared their testimonies and TEEM’s Executive Director Kris Steele spoke on how the intentional elements of the program are imperative to helping these individuals turn their lives around.

“Establishing positive, healthy relationships is especially important for individuals impacted by the criminal justice system,” said Steele. “TEEM is honored to partner with Life.Church to identify and connect men and women willing to serve as mentors to individuals transitioning from incarceration into the community.”

Mark Schuchardt graduated from the TEEM program earlier this month after being incarcerated off and on for the past 20 years. Since his incarceration, he’s been separated from his loved ones and lost contact with everyone except his mother. Building a strong community of people to support him has been the key to his success this time around.

“Of my five incarcerations, this is the first time I have had such a clear and active reintegration opportunity,” said Schuchardt. “I have established a safety network of individuals who are thoroughly familiar with my baggage and the opportunities offered through a second chance, and I’m confident this time will be different."

Life.Church and TEEM began their partnership in 2014 and have since seen more than 30 volunteers from Life.Church begin to actively build trusted relationships with TEEM participants through weekly meetings, trainings, and activities.

“TEEM is transforming lives by building relationships and connecting people recently released from correctional facilities with resources to help break the cycle of incarceration,” said Ryan Westrup, Life.Church Edmond LifeGroups/LifeMissions Pastor. “We’re proud to

play a small part in helping these men and women transition back into the community and make changes that have a lasting impact in their lives.”

For community members who want to join TEEM in mak ing a difference in the lives of men and women in our community, the organization is always in need of more mentors who want to invest in the lives of participants and financial support.

“TEEM will launch two new initiatives in 2017 to empower over 150 people to successfully break the cycle of incarceration. These endeavors are possible because of the numerous volunteers who give their time and because of the support and generosity of partners like Life.Church," said Steele.

About The Education and Employment Ministry (TEEM)

TEEM is an interfaith, 501(c) 3, nonprofit dedicated to breaking cycles of incarceration and poverty in Oklahoma through education, personal development, and work readiness training. Approximately 8,400 inmates are released from Oklahoma’s prisons each year. For many this time of transition is a season of new beginnings and starting over in life. TEEM’s holistic approach works to change this trend by providing comprehensive diversion and reentry services to individuals impacted by the criminal justice system. For media inquiries, please contact Lance Evans at (405) 602-0391 or via email at levans@teem.org For more information on TEEM, please visit www.teem.org.

About Life.Church

Based in Edmond, Okla., Life.Church is a multi-site church with 26 physical locations in eight states (Okla., Texas, Kan., Tenn., Fla., N.Y., N.M. and Ark.). Each location is equipped with a full staff including a Campus Pastor, Children’s Pastor, and Worship Team. Messages are led by Senior Pastor Craig Groeschel and are broadcast to more than 229 worship experiences each weekend at physical locations and throughout the week at Life.Church Online ( www.live.life.church ). Life.Church’s mission is to lead people to become fully devoted followers of Christ. To learn more about Life.Church or to find service times and locations, please visit www.life.church .

 

Friday
Feb172017

Oklahoma's Mentor Day

 

 

In October 2013, TEEM set out to offer a one-on-one mentoring program to participants. The program seeks to connect individuals impacted by incarceration with friends and accountability partners in the community. The program is TEEM’s leading volunteer opportunity with over 200 community members lending their support.

Will Schwab was one of the first volunteers to participate in the mentoring program. He has consistently offered his time, expertise, and friendship to his mentees. On January 17, 2017, Will was honored by the state for his hard work and dedication to strengthening Oklahoma communities through mentoring.

The Oklahoma Foundation of Excellence and the David and Molly Boren Mentoring Initiative sponsor Oklahoma’s Mentor Day. The goal of Mentor Day is to recognize exceptional mentors from various organizations around the state. The day is used to also raise awareness of the positive impact that mentoring has on individuals and the community.

“Will is the perfect candidate for Oklahoma’s Mentor Day,” Mentor Coordinator Jenna McCullock said. “Will has been part of our mentor program since its inception. Through casual conversations, Will has offered his knowledge, insight, and wisdom to a number of TEEM participants. He helps them find the courage to live their best lives. Thank you, Will!”

For more information on TEEM’s mentor program, please visit teem.org/mentor.