Not Beyond Their Reach

Imagine if something as simple yet pleasurable as a morning deer hunt wasn’t possible without physical assistance.  One organization has been helping people with disabilities enjoy the outdoors through fellowship and many volunteered man hours.  By creating hunting opportunities, the Oklahoma Outdoor Outreach has transformed their members’ lives and made outdoor activities not beyond their reach.
     Founded in 2007, the Oklahoma Outdoor Outreach is a non-profit organization that was  formed to provide disabled, chronically, and terminally ill individuals the opportunity to enjoy the heritage of outdoor sporting activities.  For five years this faith-based organization has touched countless lives through the sharing of God’s great outdoors.  Organization President Tim Slavin has dedicated over ten years to offering those in need a chance to what he feels is a great way to build confidence and a relationship with God.
    “Our organization really builds self esteem for our members.  The adults members are a little different from the younger kids but still everybody gets a boost. The kids sometimes don’t know much about hunting or life in general.  I recall the first child I took hunting who was twelve at the time and is now 22 years old.  I’ve seen him progress and grow up and to understand what hunting as well as what the love of Christ, means.  He has seen both sides of our group and what people are willing to do to help.  This organization has built memories and confidence for our members which are life lasting and priceless,” Slavin said.   
     Volunteers such as Slavin are the driving force that make Oklahoma Outdoor Outreach possible.  The activities held by the group, such as hunting, create a time to build esteem while sharing the works of the Lord.  Members and volunteers share in fellowship and get to spend time in God’s creations.  Members are offered time away from hospitals, cities and daily routine and get a chance to sit in a hunting blind and watch a sunrise with Mom or Dad and a guide.  This opportunity creates an understanding of what things are about in nature.  Breaking up the monotony of sitting at home playing video games or looking at Facebook is what a lot of our kids need. In a country that is quickly loosing its connection with the outdoors and spending time in God’s creation, it is important to have a group like this not only for the children but for the adult members as well.  
     Oklahoma Outdoor Outreach is not about shooting a deer or turkey; it is about fellowship and family.  As a family organization they encourage every member of the family to participate in their activities.  On the occasions where a Sunday overlaps, which many of them do  they will have Sunday service. Usually a guest speaker will share testimony or a pastor will come and speak.  The group even takes communion from time to time.
     Slavin spoke about the other activities their organization holds:
“We have hunts, trap shoots, archery, fishing and camping events, but we also share a lot of fellowship.  We have done camps for Children’s Hospital for a number of years, and we always have a youth deer hunt, adult deer hunt and a spring turkey hunt.  During the turkey hunts we have a turkey calling contest for the kids in which they win prizes.  Talk about special! It’s wonderful to see the hard work that the kids put into it.  We are always raising money for prizes to give back to the volunteers, kids, and guides to show our appreciation.”
     This year’s deer hunt was held during the last weekend of rifle season in Murray county at the donated facility of the Murray County Antique Tractor and Implement Association.  The event held a combination of silent auction and BB-Q dinner as a fund-raiser.  Over 200 people came for the dinner where the Oklahoma Outdoor Outreach served 36 slabs of ribs sides for their guests and members.    
     The guides and volunteers were from the local areas and all hunting took place on private land that had been provided for the hunt.  Eleven hunters harvested four bucks and five does this year.  The hunts themselves are a major undertaking. It takes time to scout and prepare the hunt as well as organize, the actual hunting locations.  Oddly enough, not one person on this organization’s board has a child or family member that is disabled in any way which personally says something about the organization.  As a group that is dedicated to helping others the Oklahoma Outdoor Outreach is a volunteer only organization.  There aren’t salaries and what money the group has is generated by fund-raising.
     Jose Rivera, is one member who has benefited from this group and is passionate about hunting.  Hunting can always be appreciated when you shoot the deer of a lifetime.  During this year’s hunt Rivera shot a very large eight point buck nicknamed “Palmetto” by Great Plains salesman, Levi Garrett.  Garrett had been managing Palmetto for years and has watched him grow into a mature trophy.  When Garrett heard news of the deer being shot he graciously brought all “Palmetto’s” sheds to Rivera and shared some of his encounters with the monster buck to the group.  Slavin and Rivera were impressed with Garrett’s sportsmanship and how he understood how important this was to Jose and the organization. When asked, Rivera had this to say about Oklahoma Outdoor Outreach:
     “They are like family.  I’ve never met a group like this.  We just get together and have a great time and they don’t treat you like a charity case.  I always have a great time at the hunts even if I don’t harvest a deer,” said Rivera      
     Slavin spoke about the rewarding aspects he gets personally.
     “To see what the members of this organization get out of their time, whether it be the hunters themselves or even the guides is why I do this.  It has gotten to the point where the work that we do is as important to us as it is to them,” said Slavin.
     As long as the organization can continue to raise money and the passion to help others is there, the Oklahoma Outdoor Outreach will continue to provide a means of spiritual and personal growth for those in need.  Like other non-profit organizations there are needs to be met and like a page from their member’s lives, struggles to overcome, but nothing great has ever been achieved without struggle which makes the Oklahoma Outdoor Outreach appreciate what they have achieved even more.         
     If you are interested in the Oklahoma Outdoor Outreach Foundation and would like more information visit their website at http://www.oklahomaoutdooroutreach.org, like them on Facebook, or call Tim Slavin at
405-826-7286.

http://www.greatplainskubota.com

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