Volunteering has taught Tonya Smith to use power tools and given her confidence.
A Tahlequah Area Habitat for Humanity volunteer for about four years, she’s helping construct the 19th home for the organization and hopes to one day use the skills she’s honing to build her own home.
This week celebrates Habitat for Humanity’s fifth annual national “Women Build” week, which helps empower women to learn skills to be self-sufficient as they complete a home for a family.
When her two daughters were younger, Smith and her husband, Robert, spent their volunteer time aiding Girl Scouts.
“It was fun to do stuff with my kids, fun stuff getting them involved in the community,” she said.
After they grew up, she missed having something to do that made a difference. Seeing the announcement in the newspaper about the Habitat’s tool workshop, Smith knew she wanted to get involved.
“I’ve always done community service through Girl Scouts and I like being able to help others,” Smith said.
Serving on the TAHFH board as secretary, Smith takes minutes and sends financial reports to Habitat International. A future goal is to go overseas and build a Habitat house.
Smith also enjoys coordinating fundraising events like next weekend’s Zumbathon, a first-time event for Tahlequah. In addition to volunteering, Smith is a Zumba instructor.
The Zumbathon will be Saturday, May 12 from 10 a.m. to noon, at the NSU Fitness Center. Registration is onsite with a $5 minimum donation.
“All proceeds go to Habitat for Humanity,” she said. “All you need for the Latin dance exercise event are a bottle of water, a towel and lots of energy.”
Smith volunteers to get out of the house and meet new people. Habitat provides her with activities and new friends.
“It’s rewarding to see the new homeowner have a good place to live that’s not run down,” she said. “They made me feel very welcome and put me to work right away,” Smith said.
Learning skills also appealed to Smith.
“I like learning the new skills for building and using tools, and hopefully, one day I’ll be able to build my own house,” she said. “Power tools are fun, and I get to do stuff without my husband’s help.”
And she has a lot more confidence.
“They trust me to do more without supervision, and I can help new people. It makes me feel good to share knowledge and skills,” she said.
Habitat is always looking for volunteers and always need donations.
“People don’t have to have skills to help,” she said. “They just have to have a good attitude and be willing to work.”
One of her friends who came to visit a build site now serves on the board.
“We just opened up a resale store and we can take donations of household items, except clothing. We have windows, doors, cabinets, that kind of thing,” she said.
While she calls Tahlequah home, the Wagoner Teacher of the Year has taught middle school native culture for 10 years.
“The kids make me want to teach, and there’s never a dull moment,” she said.
Beadwork is her favorite part of native arts and crafts, especially making jewelry, which she likes to give as gifts.
After school, she works with the 21st Century program, which also offers a summer event.She also works with the Johnson O’Malley Indian Education program.
Next year, she’s hoping to start an archery program.
“I’m always looking for ways to incorporate activities in the native culture for our students,” Smith said. “Like bow shooting. The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife has free classes for teachers and competition for students.”
As for Habitat for Humanity, it’s now a family project.
Her daughter Marisa, 23, also volunteers with Habitat.
“We’ve always done stuff together. I taught my daughters to give back to the community,” she said. “My dad taught me if you see something that needs to be done just do it.”
Volunteering has taught Tonya Smith to use power tools and given her confidence.
Padilla enjoys reconnecting with childhood
As a child spending time at her grandparents’ house, with all her aunts, uncles, and cousins around her, Kerrie (Bosley) Padilla spent endless hours outside playing chase, catching fireflies, or writing and acting out plays.
In 1987, after her dad got out of the Navy, the family moved here from Georgia to be closer to that family: matriarch Dorothy Monzingo, and maternal grandparents Dorothy and Dwight Allen. Her parents, DeAnna and Steve Edwards – as well as a couple of siblings and some aunts, uncles and cousins – still live here.
Eventually, Padilla graduated from Northeastern State University, and then its College of Optometry.
Dream Theatre spotlights songwriters
Dreams can come true for local aspiring songwriters who seek to gain performance experience.
For one young musician, Thursday night was an unexpected dream of discovery, as well.
Two opportunities are available to musicians at the Dream Theatre each month, the new Songwriters’ Showcase which opened Thursday night and Premier Night for musicians who have a few songs or a set, but not a whole show.
In search of the groove that works for The Dream, Manager Larry Clark is partnering with Blake Turner, Lakes Country operation manager.
The Songwriters’ Showcase, which will continue the third Thursday of the month in conjunction with Tahlequah Main Street Association’s Third Thursday Art Walk downtown, features seasoned performers who can share some of their personal insights into the how, when and why of their songwriting experiences.
Dream, Brewdog’s to host music festivals
One sign of spring’s arrival is the scheduling of music festivals, and 10 bands will visit a Tahlequah venue May 24, the Saturday before Memorial Day.
Conference attendees get words of encouragement
Words of encouragement and door prizes were bountiful Saturday morning at the annual Zoë Institute’s Women’s Conference.
Ten women shared words of wisdom in areas from happiness to health, and 100 gifts were given out, including the grand prize of gasoline for a year.
Panelists discuss impact of Southeastern art
Until recently, most people had a certain expectation of American Indian art – and it didn’t include images familiar to people in and around Cherokee County.
“A lot of times, when people think about Native art, they immediately think of Plains art or Southwestern art,” said Roy Boney (Cherokee), Tahlequah artist and moderator of the panel discussion “Southeastern Indian Art: Building Community and Raising Awareness,” held Friday, April 11, at the NSU Symposium on the American Indian.
Boney and the other panelists are frustrated by the divide between mainstream expectations of Native American art and their need for genuine self-expression.
Dickerson believes in putting the student first
As a child growing up in Elk City, Cherokee Elementary teacher Debra Dickerson lined up the neighborhood children and animals to play school.
“I’ve been a teacher ever since I could talk. My mother always said she knew where I was because she could hear me bossing everyone,” she said.
The classroom then was a blanket tossed over limbs of her big cherry tree on Eisenhower Street. Recess was spent tree-climbing, running, riding in the bus (her red wagon) and being creative.
“Those were the days before video games and TV,” she said.
Dickerson, 2013-’14 Cherokee Elementary Teacher of the Year, believes a classroom should be a safe haven for children, because school is often the best part of their day.
Cleaning things up
Lowrey was part of the Cherokee Nation’s Career Service Center contingency of 11 volunteers. Other volunteers cleaned up trash along the roadway from the Cherokee Casino to the NSU campus.
Right to privacy leans partly on Article 9
While the other articles of the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights are straightforward – at least, enough for Americans to bicker over in court – the Ninth Amendment might cause a bit of confusion.
It reads: “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”
There are no rights enumerated, and it might be difficult to argue one’s Ninth Amendment rights in court, though it has been done successfully.
The American Indian Science and Engineering Society and Native American Student Associationat Northeastern State University hosted a traditional stickball game as part of closing cultural activities during the 42nd annual Symposium on the American Indian Friday. Participants included, from left: Nathan Wolf, Disosdi Elk and Chris Smith.
City council to discuss ‘green building’
Tahlequah City Council will hold a special meeting Friday, April 11, at 5:30 p.m. to discuss, among other items, applying grant money to renovate the city’s “green building” at the corner of Water and Morgan, near Norris Park.
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