You don’t touch the lives of over 13,000 Oklahomans without a little help. The Education and Employment Ministry utilizes volunteers to help fulfill its mission and uplift the lives of Oklahoma’s at-risk population.
Community support continues to be a crucial component to TEEM’s success. With over 10 different volunteer roles to choose from, TEEM provides a way for community members to play a proactive role in the long-term recovery process of its’ participants. Along with TEEM’s Board of Directors and staff, volunteers are committed to breaking the cycle of incarceration and poverty by providing comprehensive services to some of Oklahoma’s most stigmatized and forgotten citizens.
“I call them ‘my volunteers,’” Volunteer Coordinator Lance Evans said. “I am blessed to be able to work with such an incredible group of people that believe in second chances and restoring lives.”
Last year, TEEM utilized over 130 individuals to help fill roles in the volunteer program. Volunteers completed a total 818 hours in TEEM’s program. Interested volunteers fill out an application, tour TEEM’s facilities, and are then invited to an hour-long training. It’s there where they are introduced to the program and the dreams that they are helping fulfill.
Volunteer Coordinator Lance Evans makes the experience fun and interactive for volunteers. His training usually starts with one simple question: what’s your favorite meal? It’s a simple inquiry, but one that always throws potential volunteers for a loop. It not only serves as an ice-breaker question, but it also reveals one of the daily struggles that incarcerated individuals endure.
“I actually use that question when I’m initially interviewing TEEM’s participants,” Lance said. “Many people don’t realize that the Department of Corrections approved daily lunch includes a bologna sandwich and a bag of chips. This questions offers a bridge of hope—a connection between their reality and their dreams.”
After completing the training session, volunteers schedule their first volunteer day. Although there are a numerous roles to fill, such as mock interviewer, guest speaker, personal shopper, and mentor, Lance is always interested in creating new opportunities that highlight the interests and strengths of volunteers.
“This program belongs to the community,” he said. “I am always looking for ways to grow and strengthen the relationship between Oklahoma communities and TEEM participants, but I need your help to do that.”
To apply for TEEM’s volunteer and program, head to teem.org/volunteer. For more information, contact Lance Evans at 405-235-5671 ext. 237.