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. 

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.

 

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!” 

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 .

 

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.

 

On The Move: TEEM's New Building

 

 

TEEM is on the move! For the past 29 years, TEEM’s headquarters have been located at 14 NE 13 Street. Since tailoring its services to meet the needs of individuals impacted by the criminal justice system in Oklahoma, TEEM has experienced rapid growth. To continue meeting the needs of participants, TEEM is proud to announce relocation to 1501 North Classen Blvd.

200 individuals are served annually through TEEM’s reentry programming. In October 2015, TEEM acquired Oklahoma County’s Community Sentencing Program. TEEM serves an extended clientele through this diversion program.  The growing clientele presented a need for larger space to adequately provide services to fellow Oklahomans.

“The move to TEEM’s new location is a monumental moment for our organization and the greater OKC area,” Executive Director Kris Steele said. “With community partners Sunbeam Family Services and Catholic Charities located on the same street, we are excited to belong to a corridor of hope for Oklahoma City.”

TEEM will begin serving participants at its new location on July 11. TEEM is in the process moving this month. Volunteers interested in helping are encouraged to contact Volunteer Coordinator Haylie Webb at hwebb@teem.org.  

 

TEEM’s Annual Community Luncheon Offers Hope, Redemption to Program Participants

On Tuesday, May 17, 400 community members gathered at TEEM’s Annual Community Luncheon, this year themed “REDEEM.” The event helped raise awareness of the unsustainable incarceration trends occurring in the state and allowed TEEM supporters to assist individuals in the process of rebuilding their lives. This year’s luncheon was emceed by New 9 Anchor Lacie Lowry and featured a keynote message from Supreme Court Justice Douglas A. Combs.

TEEM’s luncheon was elevated by the continued support of event sponsors. With the support of key community sponsors, TEEM was able to articulate the obstacles and identify challenges facing many individuals impacted by incarceration while also providing participants an opportunity to shine in their best light.

“This year’s luncheon was a dream come true,” Lance Evans, public information officer said. “TEEM’s staff see the daily progress that our participants are making. This event was an effort to showcase the strength, talents, and perseverance of one of Oklahoma’s most ignored and stigmatized groups.”

One of the highlights of TEEM’s luncheon was the premiere of short docu-film REDEEM, produced by 1577 Productions. This is the third year that the Oklahoma-based production company produced a documentary for TEEM. This year’s documentary features TEEM participants Jillian Robertson and Shawn Wilson and showcases their work with employment partners Buy-For-Less and Kitchen 324. The production is sponsored by First National Bank.

For more information on TEEM’s luncheon and to view this year’s documentary, please visit teem.org. 

Second Chance Success Story

Chris Jackson thought his chance at a brighter future was coming in three months on his release day. After advising case managers at TEEM of his job skills and talents, they worked diligently to identify an employer that would put his skills to work. That day came today.

After successfully completing his interview, Chris was offered a job on the spot. Instead of staying at his community center dreaming of a second chance, he's able to start living his dream today.

 

 

Second Chance Success Story: Amber Anthony

 

Participant Amber Anthony (left) poses with case manager Francie Ekwerekwu and Hudiburg Auto Group car salesman Dave Wallace

Amber Anthony has a new reason to smile. This month, she will begin classes at MetroTech where she’ll be studying to become a drafting and design architectural technician. Amber knew that in order to be a productive student, she would need reliable transportation to make it to class.

“I have been hoping for a car,” she said. “Currently I’ve been taking the bus and catching rides with whoever I can. I’ve been just trying to get where I need to go, but now I don’t have to.”

A lack of resources to obtain housing and transportation continue to be major impediments to successful reentry. Through the generosity of 7-Eleven, Inc., TEEM offers a scholarship program to help alleviate these barriers.

“The scholarship fund rewards responsible behavior,” Executive Director Kris Steele said. “Resources are used to match participant funds up to $500.”

Alexis utilized TEEM’s housing and transportation scholarship program to purchase her first car, a 2005 Lincoln Town Car. Since her time at TEEM, Amber’s numerous successes have inspired and encouraged her peers and TEEM staff. She also left a lasting impression on Hudiburg Auto Group car salesman Dave Wallace, a retired United States Navy Officer.

“I’ve been with Hudiburg for 10 years,” he said. “Mr. Hudiburg has integrity. If he didn’t I wouldn’t work for him.”

Amber had funds available to cover the scholarship match, but fell short in paying the start up costs for her insurance. Just when she thought the deal was closed, Mr. Wallace surprised Amber with a hand-up and offered to pay for her insurance.  

“It’s time for me to give back to society,” he said. “I’ve had great fortune in my life and I think other people deserve it too.”

Amber said today was only the beginning. She is expecting great things from herself in the future.

“My story isn’t over yet,” she said. “I’m going to graduate!” 

Governor Mary Fallin, Workforce and State Leaders Congratulate Culinary Arts Graduates

OKLAHOMA CITY — Governor Mary Fallin joined Executive Director of The Employment and Education Ministry (TEEM) Kris Steele and other members of the newly formed Work Ready Oklahoma (WRO) at TEEM’s facility today to honor graduates of a new culinary arts program offered through WRO.

The WRO initiative is funded through a grant awarded to It’s My Community Initiative through the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration. These funds provide training materials from CareerTech, kitchen tools, uniforms, supplies, and more. 

“I appreciate the collaboration of all of the partners who have come together to form Work Ready Oklahoma and make programs like this a success,” said Fallin. “Providing educational and career opportunities for offenders who are about to leave state custody helps them quickly get back on their feet when they are released. Having a job and the ability to provide for themselves and their families also gives them a sense of pride and purpose.” 

The graduates of the culinary arts program are offenders serving time at the Kate Barnard Community Corrections Center in Oklahoma City. The offenders are the first graduates of the six-week program, allowing them to earn a certificate through Oklahoma’s ServSafe program, qualifying them to work at numerous restaurants statewide.

The program began on August 24, 2015, with classroom instruction at TEEM. After weeks of classroom work, students participated in hands-on instruction from WRO’s Culinary Arts Instructor Sharon Grier in TEEM’s kitchen. Students produce two meals daily and learn the essentials of prepping, preparing, and cooking various types of food.

“This culinary arts program is an investment in our community,” said Sandino L. Thompson, Executive Director of It’s My Community Initiative. “Through this strong collaborative, Work Ready Oklahoma is able to deliver trainings that are responsive to the unique needs of the incarcerated while preparing them for successful, stable employment outcomes.”

 In addition to the culinary arts program, in September, seven offenders at the Oklahoma City Community Corrections Center completed a six-week welding course from the Skills Center Mobile Welding Program through WRO. 

“We are continuing to identify tangible job training that will align WRO participants with successful careers upon their release from Oklahoma prisons,” TEEM Executive Director Kris Steele said. “Employment continues to be a major factor in successful reentry for participants. By addressing root issues that lead to incarceration and incorporating career credentialing and assistance, participants gain necessary tools for successful reentry.”

Corrections Director Robert Patton praised the WRO program and said it is a great way for offenders to equip themselves with the tools necessary to pursue a life on the outside and chart a new path forward.

“These programs are helping offenders gain access to options that at one point in time may not have been available to them,” said Patton. “This is giving them hope and showing them there is a different life out there for them than what they previously knew.”

To address the rising obstacles incarcerated individuals face upon release, Oklahoma CareerTech, a comprehensive statewide system focused on developing a world-class workforce, implemented more industry-standard credentials in WRO’s service model.

Greg Dewald, superintendent of the CareerTech Skills Centers division, said the program is the first of its kind for the state of Oklahoma.

“This comprehensive program is revolutionary for our state and a true collaboration between all departments and organizations involved,” Dewald said. “This initiative was created with one goal in mind: to put men and women of our community to work. We achieved results with the welding component and we are on pace to achieve the same goals through our culinary arts program.” 

In addition to training in culinary arts, participants are also receiving employment assistance from TEEM and WRO’s Job Placement Coordinators. Students receive interview training and resume building assistance to reinforce culinary training.

After completing the job search component of the program, students qualify for an additional twelve months of case management services that address common reentry challenges. Through weekly follow-ups with their case managers, issues surrounding employment, housing, and transportation needs are addressed.

Criteria for offenders to get involved in the program are based on personal conduct, time remaining, and desire to remain in Oklahoma County upon release. For more information on TEEM, please contact Lance Evans at levans@teem.org or by calling (405) 235-5671.

 

 

Langston University Freshmen Volunteer at TEEM

 

On Saturday, July 14, an enthusiastic and friendly group of Langston Cubs reveled in the spirit of giving back through volunteer work at TEEM. Their hard work left a lasting impression on TEEM staff and participants.

TEEM is dedicated to breaking cycles of incarceration through education, personal development, and work readiness training. Equipping participants work-related interview attire is a primary component of this service model. Thanks to amble amounts of community support, TEEM houses two clothing closets to provide participants with appropriate interview apparel. As donations and the number of participants consistently increase, so does the need for additional help in the clothing closets.

“It was literally a dream come true to receive an email from Langston University regarding volunteer opportunities,” said Volunteer Coordinator Haylie Webb. “There was definitely a need for additional support in the clothing closet. LU students met and exceeded that need.”

Langston University joins an extensive list of Oklahoma colleges and universities committed to helping accomplish TEEM’s mission. University of Oklahoma students previously worked in TEEM’s clothing closet for OU’s Big Volunteer Day. University of Central Oklahoma students are gearing up to volunteer for a second year in TEEM’s Job Placement Department. With the help of UCO professor Dr. Vincent, students will create curriculum containing life skill and pro-social instruction.

“We create more than just volunteer opportunities at TEEM,” Haylie said. “We are interested in connecting community groups to our mission. Once they understand the need for reentry services in our state they’re more inclined to fully offer their support.”

For more information on TEEM’s volunteer program, please contact Haylie Webb at hwebb@teem.org or by calling 405-235-5671.

New Case Manger Francie Ekwerekwu Talks TEEM, Incarceration and the Importance of Community Involvement

 

 

Francie is dedicated to a life of service. Her commitment to her faith extends to her commitment to TEEM’s participants. The Arlington, Texas, transplant is a recent graduate of DePaul University College of Law in Chicago, Illinois, but her true pride is painted in red and white. “Please let TEEM supporters know that I am a Sooner,” she said. Francie was a star volleyball athlete at the University of Oklahoma, winning four awards at OU’s 2010 Max Weitzenhoffer Scholar Athlete Breakfast for demonstrating dignity, integrity, and strength of character on and off the court. Francie recently talked to TEEM’s Development Department about her accomplishments and her desire to help rebuild lives at TEEM.

What brought you to TEEM?

My passion for serving persons affected by incarceration and their children brought me to TEEM.

What do you hope to gain from your experience here?

Above all, I hope to grow in my faith as I serve God by serving our participants at TEEM.  I also hope to gain new and long-lasting professional relationships with my co-workers at TEEM as well as healthy and on-going mentoring relationships with our participants.  Professionally, my goals for working with TEEM is to develop the necessary knowledge, skills, and passion I need to start my own non-profit organization one day-- in which I hope to serve incarcerated parents and their children.   

What have you learned from working with our participants?

 In the short few days that I have been working with TEEM, I have already learned so much from our participants.  They are all very respectful and appreciative of TEEM for the services we provide them.  One participant recently shared a list of quotes and Bible verses that he reads frequently to encourage himself.  He loves the story of Daniel and the lions’ den and told me he knows God has never forgotten about him or left him, just as God protected Daniel in the lions’ den.  His words and demeanor as he shared with me were very inspiring.  I realized why he likes the story of Daniel so much when I read one of the quotes on his cherished list, “Every miracle in the Bible first started as a problem.” 

Of all the quotes on this cherished list, one of them especially jumped out at me.  “Life becomes easier when you learn to accept the apology you never got.”  Many of us have experienced hurts in life that we do not successfully recover from because we have not accepted non-existent apologies.  Immediately after reading the quote, I imagined there were likely many people there in our TEEM cafeteria as well as in this world that could benefit from this quote.  Thus, I challenged myself to ponder this thought as it relates to my own life.  Since then, the thought has stuck with me.  I appreciate little moments like that in life that make me more aware of “the bigger picture” and my purpose in life.  I am so grateful to the TEEM participants and Staff for welcoming me so graciously and sharing their stories with me.   

Has your view of incarceration changed since your time here at TEEM? If so, how?

So far, my view of incarceration has not changed but I am grateful for the chance to be here and learn more each day.  

Why do you think TEEM is important to the community?

TEEM is important to the community because we are helping to prepare and equip our participants to go out into the community and be healthy, successful, educated, employable, and contributing citizens.  Many of our participants appreciatively express how much they love being involved with TEEM and how great of a job TEEM does to help them in their individual situations.  TEEM participants are happy to be here because they feel welcome, respected, and valued.  One participant even told me, “ it feels like family here.”  Because TEEM builds this confidence within our participants, they are motivated to go out into the community and make new, prosperous lives for themselves.  Thus, as participants work to complete our programs, our community benefits from having TEEM participants as developing contributors.

Understanding TEEM’s Service Model: Culinary Arts Program

 

Education continues to be a long-standing hallmark of TEEM’s service. TEEM is building upon this fundamental mission component by offering new certifications in culinary arts. This highly marketable and sought after skillset will continue to set TEEM participants apart as they seek gainful employment after a period of incarceration.

Through a new partnership with CareerTech, TEEM now offers culinary arts classes at TEEM offices. Currently, participants from female correctional facility Kate Bernard participate in the program. Upon completion of classes, graduates will be aligned with employers in the community.

“Employment is a primary barrier of incarceration that impedes successful reentry for incarcerated individuals,” Culinary Arts Instructor Sharon Grier said. “This new program helps participants secure employment and effectively rebuild their lives.”

The program started on August 24, 2015, with eight students enrolled. After two weeks of classroom instruction, students will put their skills to the test in TEEM’s service kitchen. The area will be used to train students in preparing, cooking, and presenting various foods. The first class detailed their excitement about being enrolled in the new program.

“This program will allow me to be something,” said Meagan Westfield. “When I told my daughter about the program, she called me ‘Chef Mommy,’” she said. “This will allow me to have a career and do something great for my daughter and me.”

Myra Brooks is back for her second week of training. Graduation will only be the beginning of Myra’s journey. “This means a lot,” she said. “This opportunity will allow me to secure employment and financial support.”

Cooking has been a bonding event for Sheila Jackson’s family. She can remember cooking with her grandmother at the age of five. She said having her certification in culinary arts would create a generational cycle of ownership that will benefit her family for years to come.

“I love cooking, I grew up in the kitchen,” Sheila said. “I’m not looking to just work or be a manger in the kitchen. I want to continue my education and possibly own a restaurant. I want something for my family to have when I’m gone.”

For more information on TEEM’s culinary arts program, please contact Lance Evans at levans@teem.org. For more information on TEEM, please visit teem.org.

 

TEEM’s Staff Tips The Scales with 30-Day Diet Challenge

 

TEEM’s staff is promoting clean and healthy lifestyles through a new 30-day challenge. Annually, TEEM encourages the community to participate in a summer hygiene drive to promote the fundamentals of healthy and hygienic living. To coincide with this year’s drive, staff members chose to take on an additional challenge of eating clean for an entire month.

“We truly believe in leading by example at TEEM,” said Mentor Coordinator Jenna McCullock. “This 30 day challenge not only helps connect staff members to a positive office project, but it also helps us appropriately engage with our participants and teach the benefits of clean and healthy living.”

For 30 days, participating staff members have agreed to only eat from an approved list of foods including: meats, vegetables, nuts, fruits, and other natural foods. Diary, grains, wheat, carbohydrates, and sugar are not allowed. The strict programming comes with its challenges.

“This is more than just a diet regiment, it’s a complete lifestyle change,” Case Manager Dominique Williams said. “Our participants inspire us daily and remind us to consciously give to our mission. Our summer drive is all about clean living. We wanted to take it a step further!”

Healthy cooking doesn’t have to be boring! Just ask Program Director Missy Brumley. This week, she’s sharing one of her favorite recipes from Once a Month Meals. Head below for Missy's crave of the month! 

Men’s Wearhouse Launches 8th Annual National Suit Drive

 

TEEM and Men’s Wearhouse Challenges Oklahoma City Residents to Help Donate
250K Clothing Items This Year for a Collective ONE MILLION Donations

TEEM is partnering with Men’s Wearhouse to launch its eighth annual National Suit Drive, a six-week initiative that collects donations of gently-used professional attire for unemployed Americans. Clothing collected at Men’s Wearhouse stores between June 22nd and July 31st as a result of the drive will be distributed to TEEM and over 180 local nonprofit organizations that provide work ready skills, training, and seminars to disadvantaged men and women entering or reentering the workforce in Oklahoma City.

“We strive to battle unemployment by helping men and women get back on their feet and into the workplace,” said Program Director Missy Brumley. “The knowledge that they are dressed appropriately can give participants the confidence they need to focus on the task at hand. The National Suit Drive is a wonderful cause that provides needed assistance to position our participants to achieve success.”

As part of this year’s National Suit Drive, Men’s Wearhouse is issuing a challenge to consumers across the country to meet or exceed the goal of 250,000 donated items. Over the past seven years, the National Suit Drive has collected approximately 850,000 professional clothing donations. This year marks the opportunity to break the one million donation mark.

Starting on June 22nd, residents of Oklahoma City can donate their gently-used professional clothing, including men’s and women’s suits, ties, jackets, shirts, pants, belts and shoes, at Penn Square Mall, 1901 N.W. Expressway #1066-1074, 2530 W. Memorial Rd., and 2550 S. I-35 Service Rd. As a thank you, donors will receive 50 percent off the regular free retail price of their next purchase from Men’s Wearhouse (excluding shoes, clearance and exceptional value items).

This year, the National Suit Drive is partnering with DeMarco Murray, the AP NFL Offensive Player of the Year, to help spread the word. “Whether ‘suiting up’ on the field or off, I’ve felt first-hand the confidence a suit provides and how it helps you perform at your personal best,” said Murray. “I’m thrilled to be partnering with the National Suit Drive to give other men throughout the nation the ability to recognize their dreams – and achieve them.”

#GIVEASUIT AND GET SOCIAL

To help spread the word about this year’s National Suit Drive, Men’s Wearhouse is encouraging people to share the #giveasuit post found on their Facebook page. For every share, the company will donate $1 (up to $25,000) to the local nonprofits they have partnered with. For more information, visit TEEM.org or the National Suit Drive website at www.nationalsuitdrive.com.

RESTORE

 

Read Restore Now!

 

"TEEM is charting a new path by focusing on a participant’s future, not their past. I invite you to rediscover the talent and value of a group of marginalized individuals and ask that you join TEEM in building safer neighborhoods, a stronger economy, and improved quality of life for every­one."

-Executive Director Kris Steele

 

"Restore is a journey into not just TEEM’s service model, but the lives of our participants – the hardships that led them to incarceration, their efforts to rebuild their lives after, and their hope and unflagging determination to have a brighter future. Restore goes a long way towards changing the face of incarceration in Oklahoma."

-Director of Development Dr. Krista Bryson

 

"Restore reveals TEEM participants as we see them daily: bright, capable, and fully empowered to take on their dreams of a brighter tomorrow.”

-Communications Coordinator Lance Evans

 

Interested in placing free copies of Restore in your place of business? Contact Lance Evans at levans@teem.org or via phone at (405) 602-0391 for more information. 

 

Understanding TEEM's Service Model: Forklift Certification


TEEM is dedicated to providing job skills that will help participants garner success in the work force. After changing our service model in January 2014, TEEM added over 16 new courses to add to the curriculum, including forklift certification. By taking this course, participants significantly increase their marketability.

“We added the forklift course because we also do the general industry course Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA),” instructor Aaron Cosar said. “A component of OSHA is materials handling. Part of that model requires individuals to have a forklift license.”

After completing orientation and regular work readiness training and behavioral courses, participants have the option of coming back to TEEM to complete the forklift certification class. Students not only study coursework on how to safely operate a forklift, they get hands-on experience driving a forklift through TEEM’s own garage-turned-obstacle-course.

“We wanted to give participants an opportunity to be able to physically get on a forklift,” Cosar said. “They are able to get a general feel for the machine. This helps ease their nerves and soothe their discomfort.”

 

 Aaron Cosar is not only a certified Thinking for a Change, PREP, and OSHA instructor, but an integral part of TEEM’s service model. Aaron was once an inmate himself and was recommended to TEEM by a community partner who noticed his determination, work ethic, and character while incarcerated. After having his sentence commuted, Aaron joined TEEM, bringing valuable experience and insight into the organization’s target population.

“I came to work here about two weeks after I was released from prison.” This background helps Aaron interact and relate to TEEM’s participants. “I spent 25 years in the system so I understand what they’re going through,” he said.

Aaron believes it’s his responsibility to challenge himself to offer a relatable role model to his students. “As an instructor, I need to have credibility in what I can do—I don’t want to just talk about it.”

Since starting the forklift program in June 2014, over 90 students have obtained their forklift certifications and many of them are using this training in the workforce.

“It pushes them forward,” Cosar explained. “When they get to a job, I want their supervisors to have faith that our participants are knowledgeable and skilled on the equipment.”