Heart of the Choctaw Nation exemplifies servant leadership
From the Desk of Assistant Chief Gary Batton
Visiting with staff, Council and friends I am humbled and joyful that so many people have “after-work” hours filled with multiple activities that give back to the communities where we all live. Rewarding ways these people spend time with their families and friends include great projects such as community cleanups, delivering Meals on Wheels, joining volunteers for Families Feeding Families and participating in walks and runs that combine healthy lifestyles with “giving back to a good cause.”
One fun volunteer program some of us have been participating in at the Choctaw Nation Head Start Centers is the “Read to Lead” Program. Chief Pyle, Council members, Choctaw directors and staff have been volunteering to read stories to the Head Start children at the 14 centers. It is so enjoyable to sit in the middle of a group of young students and read a favorite story, and experience their enthusiasm and hear their laughter. I am not sure who enjoys the storybook time more, the kids or the adult who is reading!
For a couple of years, we worked closely with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation who designated specific portions of two-mile stretches of highway that our Choctaw Nation volunteer team kept clean. The “green team” also led park beautification projects so families could have more pride in the appearance of outside recreational areas across Choctaw Nation. Our clean-up group has now put a focus on cleaning up towns. Recycling contests have been very successful and city clean-ups have garnered a variety of helpers. I appreciate all the volunteer workers who are dedicated to making Choctaw Nation a cleaner, greener place!
Over the last three years, Choctaw Nation has been a huge supporter of “Walk a Mile in her Shoes,” a national campaign that promotes awareness about the serious causes and effects of sexual violence. A large number of employees “kick up their heels” and participate in the walk each year, with the proceeds benefiting the local crisis shelter. Also, our family violence program provides awareness materials, T-shirts, and goodie bags for everyone who attends or participates in the event.
The employee involvement of the Meals on Wheels program at the Durant location has been a great way to show good stewardship to the senior citizens of this area. Meals on Wheels, Families Feeding Families, food drives and local food banks are all ways that we can assist with individuals and families who may need some extra help in this difficult economic time.
Whether the effort to help others is at church, work, or in the community, these acts of kindness and generosity show the true heart of Choctaw people and the heart of Choctaw Nation. Just as we helped the starving Irish in 1847, and more recently have been able to help many others in times of crisis, Choctaws have a loving heart and are willing to show it through their time and resources. Yakoke to all of you who have the heart of a servant – it exemplifies the mindset of our Choctaw ancestors and leaders!