Pictured above are volunteers with the Enid 4-H group.

In the culmination of a three-month environmental effort, the numbers are in, and the hard work of Oklahomans has proven to pay off once again.
For the fifteenth consecutive year, Keep Oklahoma Beautiful (KOB) took part in the nation’s largest cleanup, sponsored by Keep America Beautiful. Volunteers from all over America participate in the Great American Cleanup (GAC), and each year, Oklahomans do their part to keep the state beautiful. Since 2010, Oklahoma has had 100 percent county participation, and this year was no exception. From March 1 to May 31, over 46,000 volunteers and participants fought dirty to keep Oklahoma clean.
Organizations that register for the GAC in Oklahoma receive free trash bags, gloves, vests, water and more. In addition, 36 organizations received cash grants and 11 received equipment grants.
Since 2002, the GAC in Oklahoma has collected over 214 million pounds of litter and debris. Just this year, Oklahoma communities cleared over 3,500 miles of roadways, shorelines and hiking trails. Nearly 192,162 pounds of hazardous waste and electronics and 13,142 tires were collected, helping to protect our environment as well as keep it clean.
The Great American Cleanup is far more than a cleanup effort, however. Communities across the state participate in beautification projects, planting gardens and restoring buildings. This year, communities planted over 7,300 flowers, seedlings, shrubs and trees and painted or renovated 35 buildings.
GAC events have the power to bring communities together, with over 700 groups teaming up this year. 4-H clubs, civic organizations, FFA programs, businesses, chambers and municipalities worked together with the unified goal of keeping Oklahoma clean. The collaboration is 100 percent statewide, and Keep America Beautiful has recognized KOB several years in a row for their complete county participation.
“The KOB GAC is our signature program for which we are recognized nationally for having at least one community in all of our 77 counties participate,” said Jeanette Nance, KOB Executive Director. “It speaks volumes when we can be the facilitators for communities to come together for a beautiful cause.”
The GAC in Oklahoma not only makes municipalities more beautiful, but also unites community members.
“Community cleanups are a really fun way to volunteer,” said Wanda Gray, coordinator for the INCA-RSVP cleanup in Tishomingo. “What’s better than spending a couple hours with family, friends, and neighbors making your home a better place? Our volunteers are uniting through community service, responsibility, and sharing of the natural environment to help drastically improve the quality of their communities.”
This annual program in Oklahoma strives to strengthen communities, all while keeping this state more eco-minded and environmentally friendly. KOB maintains the belief that unity through community improvement has the power to make positive change. “For us, the Great American Cleanup is so much more than a series of litter pickups or community improvement projects,” said Brenda Russell, with the Twin Cities Revitalization Project. “It is our opportunity as a community to come together and truly showcase that we as a whole are greater than the sum of our parts.”
Keep Oklahoma Beautiful is a statewide nonprofit with a mission to empower Oklahoma citizens to preserve and enhance the state’s natural beauty and ensure a healthy, sustainable environment. To learn more about their programs, visit keepoklahomabeautiful.com.

Pictured left are volunteers with Ardmore Beautification Council.

Iola Caldwell wins OKALA Caregiver of the Year Award for Longevity two years.

Iola Caldwell springs from hardworking small-town Oklahoma stock. Diligence, meticulousness, and self-sacrifice characterized the lives of her parents, and their values have been passed down undiluted to their daughter. Growing up in Depression-era Oklahoma required a unique kind of personal determination and pride in oneself and in work. Iola’s father made hand-crafted leather saddles that still exist. Her mother, in addition to caring for her family, washed dishes in a local restaurant. Iola remembers that her mother always admonished her to “always do your best.”
A youth of 82 years, Iola’s best includes careful, specialized attention to the laundry of all the residents at Rivermont Gardens Assisted Living. For the last sixteen years, Iola has faithfully treated the residents and families at the Gardens the way she would want to be treated herself. No matter what particular wishes or demands an individual may have, Iola meets them. Here are some actual, verifiable examples of individual laundry requirements imposed by various residents for whom Iola cares:
One man required that at all times, ten empty plastic (only) hangers were to be left in his closet. Another man insisted that his pants be dried for five minutes, only-no more and no less-and then hung by the cuffs. Two current residents require that their sheets and bedspread be washed bi-weekly only. Another woman wants all her clothes hung on velvet hangers. There are approximately 58 residents in the Gardens, and each one is an individual who receives respect, right down to the way their washcloths are folded. “I have a certain way I like to fold the towels and washcloths,” says the Queen of Laundry.
While these demands may seem petty to some, Iola respects the preferences of the people who live at the Gardens. She not only abides by their wishes, but is cheerful and even proud of the way she provides such individualized service. “I’m here for the residents” is Iola’s constant motto. Soiled or stained clothing is lovingly cleaned, scrubbed, repaired, unstained, re- sewn, re-buttoned, and returned to the resident without complaint. Other staff-members joke that Iola knows the owner of every sock and washcloth in the entire building, and it is true! “I do watch out for people’s things,” Iola says. “I try to make sure that everything is returned to the particular place that each resident keeps it. I want them to be able to find their things easily.”
A full-time employee, Iola is punctual and dependable. She is unfailingly cheerful and diligent. She says “My work is a joy.” And it is obviously so-never grouchy, never discouraged, and never failing, Iola not only enjoys work, but participates in a bowling league, the Moose Lodge, Eastern Star, VFW, and a national railroad employee organization. Iola is an avid University of Oklahoma sports fan, wears school colors on appropriate days, and attends games regularly.
For uniqueness, it would be difficult to match an 82 year old laundress who works circles around employees fifty years her junior. Regarding her example to other employees, she is never absent or late, and her work is not only done, but done with a meticulous attention to detail that defies description. She works as a team with housekeepers to ensure efficient processing of laundry. Iola’s oversight of residents’ possessions reflects her deep care for their dignity and quality of life. What is more basic to quality of life than having clean and well cared-for clothing and bedding? As an example of independence, Iola is older than a number of her clients at the Gardens Assisted Living. She works full-time, stays physically fit, and clearly enjoys a very active social life outside of work. Simply knowing and observing her on a daily basis encourages residents to be independent like Iola. Ageism? Please! The very life that Iola lives is a slap in the face to ageism. She is more active than many who are half her age. And she has such joie de vivre! To her, everything is fun. What could be more opposite to the stereotype of grumpy, sedentary, depressed old age?
In summary, we have never met a better example of willing, committed, service to a senior care employer or senior clients and employees than Iola Caldwell. As one staff-member put it, “It is an honor to work with her.” We agree.

What’s your favorite summertime memory? Village on the Park

I’ve got a lot but it would be the day I got married when I was 18. Kathy Ream

Going fishing about anywhere. I fished Texhoma and Eufaula when they were coming in. Raymond Leetrammell

I rode my horse every afternoon around our ranch. Evelyn Wilcoxson

Visiting my grandfather in Chandler. We would hitch the horse to the wagon and he would give us a quarter for a movie, popcorn, and a coke in town. Helen LaFevers

Victoria Burdine is in her niche caring for residents at Tuscany Village Nursing Center.

Victoria Burdine was not raised with her grandparents. They were deceased, she said, regarding her childhood in Louisiana. Burdine always was the family member who cleaned house and cared for elderly people in her neighborhood in a little town named Rayne.
“I enjoyed it,” said Burdine, LPN, ADON and wound care nurse at Tuscany Nursing Center in Oklahoma City.
Burdine has been a nurse since 2009 and has always served in long-term care. She was a proud CNA for 15 years. Becoming a CNA was a smooth adjustment for Burdine after cleaning neighbors’ homes and running errands at the store for them.
“That’s my passion. A grandmother I could talk to and a grandmother — I didn’t have that,” she said. “So I take these residents here as my grandparents.”
She began working at Tuscany Nursing Center on the day it opened. There was one resident and Burdine was working the night shift, she said. Burdine was the LPN on the floor, and four months later she was asked to become the wound nurse. In early July she added the credential of certified wound nurse to her resume. Certification required rigorous study and taking a test.
“I started at 7 p.m. Sunday night and finished at 3 a.m. in the morning,” Burdine said. “So I am a board certified wound nurse.”
There were a lot of things she was already doing as a wound nurse, but she also learned a lot, she said. The extra education was valuable for her and also added job security to her career, she said.
Burdine said she admires that the nursing staff works well together as a team. At 3 p.m. everyday a few of the residents join her in her office for coffee and cookies. She loves it and said there is something about them that reflects her passion for the elderly.
Residents are of all ages. Some of them are in their 30s and 40s and she loves them, too. Some have been in accidents.
“You never know. It’s sad. I have a few that’s younger than me,” she said. “It is true that back in the day our grandparents would be in a nursing home, but these days it’s really young people, too.”
Burdine said it’s important to let the residents have choices. If they don’t feel like taking a bath at a certain time they can choose a later time.
“If there are certain things they want to eat – let them do it,” she said. “Just give them that freedom of choice. That plays an important role.”
Every once in a while Burdine will work in the skilled nursing unit when needed. Skilled nurses need to pay attention to detail and understand their role as a nurse, she said.
“There’s some hard work back there,” she said.
For long-term care a nurse needs to be compassionate, Burdinecontinued. Nurses without compassion and a love for their job will burnout and not make it in the industry.
“I love my job and I’m very compassionate,” Burdine said. “There’s things I do for a couple of people out of my pocket. Ladies like wigs. They like makeup. Some of them do have family and their family does not come. So I take out of my money and I buy them what they want.”
“If you’re here for the money it’s the wrong place to be.”
One of the residents has a 90-year-old mom that called Burdine from Las Vegas. She wanted to say how appreciative she is of Burdine for taking the time for her daughter to pay attention to small things.
“That means a lot,” Burdine said. “In my mind, the one thing I keep saying is, ‘This may be me one day.’ You know I wish somebody would take the time out if that happens to be me.”
“I want that same person like I am today to be caring. Take a little minute and just listen.”
Burdine tells the CNAs that the residents could be their kids. Across the U.S. nurses and CNAs need to stop what they’re caught up in life and pay more attention to detail, she said.
“Just listen because really that’s all they want you to do,” Burdine said. “So I always say this could be me.”
Currently Burdine is also caring for her mother who came to Oklahoma from Louisiana. She visits Burdine in the summertime.
When returning to Tuscany Village her residents are glad to see her. One of the residents called her at home and Burdine was happy to bring her a hamburger.

Whether it’s for a mother with Alzheimer’s disease, an employee with inoperable cancer, or a family overwhelmed by a medical crisis, an estimated 115,000 Oklahomans are caregivers to their sick, infirm or dying loved ones. To honor Oklahoma’s spirit of caring for others, Hospitality House, a nonprofit organization providing a home away from home for families caring for loved ones in medical crisis, is inviting Oklahomans to nominate a family member, friend or community member for The Oklahoma Caring Awards. Nominations are open June 12 through July 26.
“In times of crisis, Oklahomans have always been known for their spirit of caring for their communities, neighbors, and strangers,” says Toni Moore, President & CEO of Hospitality House. “Hospitality House is excited to recognize those in our state who exemplify this genuine standard of caring. We look forward honoring individuals, organizations, churches, and companies who care for their loved ones, employees, clients, and communities through the Oklahoma Caring Award.”
Individuals, churches, and companies from any county in Oklahoma can be nominated in any of the following categories: 1. The Caring Award – Individual Caregiver (any age and any diagnosis) 2. The Caring Award – Small Business(<100 employees) 3. The Caring Award - Large Business (100+ employees) 4. The Caring Award - Church 5. The Caring Award - Healthcare (<100 employees) 6. The Caring Award - Healthcare (100+ employees) Winners from each category will be honored at the Oklahoma Caring Awards Gala on Sept. 14, and each will receive a $1,000 award; for the business and healthcare categories this cash prize goes to the non-profit of their choice. To nominate a caregiver go to: https://form.jotform.us/71294414235150

The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) needs your help as we CLICK for Babies. This campaign is to create awareness of the Period of PURPLE Crying to prevent Shaken Baby Syndrome. Frustration with crying infants is the number one trigger for the shaking and abuse of an infant. The OSDH is recruiting crochet artists and knitters to help reach this year’s cap goal of 4,300 to spread Shaken Baby Syndrome prevention efforts across the state.
The Period of PURPLE Crying is a time when babies cry more than any other time in their life. It is important for parents to know that it is a normal and healthy part of infancy, that it is not their fault, and that it is not going to last forever. Currently, Oklahoma has 41 birthing hospitals participating in providing new mothers with The Period of PURPLE Crying DVD to educate them on normal crying patterns, how to cope with unsoothable crying, and the importance of never shaking a baby. Along with the DVD, in the months of November and December, each newborn will receive a purple baby cap as a reminder of the importance of never shaking a baby.
Volunteers are encouraged to knit or crochet newborn baby boy and girl caps of any shade of purple with soft, baby friendly yarn. The caps can have a variety of fun colors and patterns, as long as they are at least 50 percent purple and free of straps, strings or other potential choking hazards. Purple baby caps are accepted year-round. Only caps received by Oct. 1 will make it in this year’s hospital distribution.
Purple caps can be mailed to:
Oklahoma State Department of Health, ATTN: Maternal and Child Health, 1000 NE 10th St, Oklahoma City, Ok 73117-1299
To obtain patterns for caps, guidelines and “CLICK for Babies” campaign details, visit clickcampaign.health.ok.gov, or call Amy Terry at (405) 271-4471, or email amyt@health.ok.gov. Media inquiries should be directed to Cody McDonell at (405) 271-5601.

The Oklahoma Arts Council is seeking nominations for the 42nd Annual Governor’s Arts Awards through September 12. The awards recognize individuals and organizations whose contributions to the arts have had an impact in communities, schools, or across the state. The awards will be presented by the Governor during a special ceremony at the state Capitol in the spring.
Awards are presented in several categories:
The Governor’s Award – recognizes individuals for longtime leadership and significant contributions to the arts across Oklahoma.
Arts in Education Award – recognizes an individual, organization, school, educator or group for their outstanding leadership and service in the arts benefitting youth and/or arts in education.
Business in the Arts Award – recognizes businesses/corporations who exhibit outstanding support of the arts in Oklahoma. This award was created in memory of Earl Sneed, prominent arts advocate.
Community Service Award – recognizes individuals for significant contributions to the arts in specific Oklahoma communities in the areas of leadership and volunteerism.
Media in the Arts Award – recognizes an individual member in the media who demonstrates commitment to the arts in Oklahoma documented through public awareness support and fairness, initiative, creativity and professionalism in reporting. This award was created in memory of Bill Crawford, veteran professional journalist.
George Nigh Public Service in the Arts Award – recognizes an Oklahoma government official for outstanding support of the arts. The category was named in honor of former Oklahoma Governor George Nigh.
Nominees must be current residents of the State of Oklahoma and living in Oklahoma full time, or organizations/businesses that work in and for the benefit of Oklahoma. Previous recipients of The Governor’s Award are not eligible. Honorees will be selected by the Governor’s Arts Awards Selection Committee, which is comprised of members of the Governor-appointed Oklahoma Arts Council board and may include past Governor’s Award recipients.
An online nomination form and a downloadable nomination form are available at arts.ok.gov. Deadline for submissions is Tuesday, September 12, 2017.

Summer is heating up, and as temperatures rise, so does the risk of heat-related illness. Each year, approximately 620 people die from heat-related illness in the United States.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) reminds residents that heat-related illness can range from heat rash, heat cramps and heat exhaustion to hyperthermia (overheating) and heat stroke. Heat stroke occurs when the body is unable to cool itself sufficiently, and it often results in severe organ damage or even death.
It is important to recognize the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke and act quickly.
Heat Exhaustion
* Heavy sweating
* Weakness
* Cold, pale, clammy skin
* Fast, weak pulse
* Nausea or vomiting
* Fainting
* Muscle cramps
* Headache
* Feeling dizzy
Heat Stroke
* Body temperature of 103 degrees or higher
* Hot, red, dry or moist skin
* Rapid and strong pulse
* Headache
* Nausea
* Feeling confused
* Feeling dizzy
* Unconsciousness
A heat stroke is a medical emergency. If any signs are recognizable, call 911 immediately and move the person to a cooler environment. Reduce the person’s body temperature with cool cloths or even a bath.
The OSDH offers the following safety tips for preventing a heat-related illness: Stay indoors. Stay in an air-conditioned place. If your home is not air-conditioned, visit the mall or public library, or contact the local health department for the location of a heat-relief shelter in the area.
Stay hydrated. Increase your fluid intake to two to four glasses (16-32 ounces) of cool fluids every hour. If you are on water pills or restricted fluid limit, consult a physician first. Avoid liquids which contain alcohol or large amounts of sugar; they contribute to the loss of more body fluid. Very cold drinks can cause stomach cramps and should be avoided as well.
Dress appropriately. Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing as well as sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher and broad spectrum or UVA/UVB protection.
Closely monitor those who are more vulnerable. Infants, children, people older than 65 years of age, those with mental illness, outdoor workers, athletes and those with physical illnesses such as heart disease or high blood pressure should be closely observed.
Never leave anyone in a vehicle. Never leave anyone, especially children and the elderly, in a parked vehicle, even if the windows are cracked.

Pet therapy helps residents feel better emotionally and physically. Animals help lift a person’s mood and give them something to focus on outside of themselves. Residents who feel sick, lonely or depressed will often respond to an animal and offer genuine affection and unconditional love. The resident may smile, open their eyes, pet or talk to the animal.
Touching and interacting with animals can help lower a resident’s blood pressure and heart rate and provide stress relief. Residents who have regular visits with pets have longer life spans and suffer from less depression.
Animals increase sensory stimulation, inspire a sense of purpose and increase social interactions with the staff. Pets serve as a valuable conversation starter, and are useful in promoting visitation of children with the elderly. Residents tend to look forward to their visits. They enjoy hearing children tell about their pets.
How does pet therapy work? The animals are non-threatening and non-judgmental. They do not expect anything and there is no pressure on the resident to do or say anything. They accept and are open to whoever the person is and whatever that person needs.
Ombudsman volunteers visit nursing home residents weekly. For more information on the ombudsman program, contact ombudsman supervisors Patricia Shidler, Tonya VanScoyoc, Debra Burris, Eric Locke, or Erin Davis at Areawide Aging Agency at 1-405-942-8500. Group presentations and flexible training schedules are available.

The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food & Forestry (ODAFF), in collaboration with Oklahoma State University, is continuing to recognize Significant Women in Oklahoma Agriculture. The initiative is designed to honor and recognize numerous women in agriculture across all 77 counties of the state, from all aspects and areas of the industry ranging from producers to educators, leaders to entrepreneurs, veterinarians to board members and many more.
“Our hope is to continue telling the stories of the countless women who give selflessly to this industry but don’t always receive an award,” said Oklahoma Secretary of Agriculture Jim Reese. “This has been such a fun project for all of us in agriculture, learning of and reading the stories of these women and their contributions. We thank all of you who have sent in nominations.”
One honoree is recognized each week on ODAFF’s social media with a detailed biography of her “ag story.” Additionally, a press release acknowledging her selection is submitted to area newspapers. The benefit of using social media for recognition is the accessibility to most everyone and allows the archives to be accessed long after they were published.
“We encourage everyone to submit a nomination,” said Secretary Reese.
All nominations must be submitted online at http://okwomeninagandsmallbusiness.com/. Please submit nominations by September 30. A selection committee will continue the process of identifying nominees to be recognized as Oklahoma’s Significant Women in Agriculture.