Last year's EF-5 tornado devastated hundreds of families in Moore, Oklahoma. Cherokee Nation Businesses (CNB) employees lended immediate assistance, and they have not forgotten about those affected by the disaster. They are volunteering with Art Feeds, a nonprofit arts program based out of Joplin, Missouri, to help elementary school students heal through therapeutic art.
“We stand committed to our fellow Oklahomans, especially these young children who endured such a harrowing experience. We will remain committed to them as they continue to heal their emotional wounds,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker. “Our support will not waver as we help them move forward to brighter days.”
Volunteers are promoting the healing process by creating an environment in which students feel safe to dance, sing, draw, paint, build, sculpt and express themselves. “I had no idea how much of an impact the children in Moore would have on me,” said LaDonna Gritts, CNB employee volunteer. “It’s amazing to see their strength and versatility after they’ve been through so much at such a young age. It was truly an eye-opening experience.”
The 12-week curriculum is offered free of cost to Plaza Towers and Briarwood elementary schools by Art Feeds and volunteers, such as CNB employees.
“The curriculum is nothing without dedicated and caring individuals who invest their time in the students each week. I have been blown away by the commitment of more than 115 volunteer educators working together to reach 1,200 students in Briarwood and Plaza Towers,” said Meg Bourne, Art Feeds founder and chief executive officer. “The educators come in all forms, from OU students, OKC Arts Council members and Cherokee Nation volunteers who drive hours to be a part of the programming.”
In the wake of the tornado, people across Oklahoma offered supplies, resources, time and anything possible to help victims recover from their catastrophic loss. Cherokee Nation and its businesses offered immediate and ongoing support to victims in the Moore area.
“The strength of the families and children who were affected by last year’s devastation are an inspiration to our employees,” said Shawn Slaton, chief executive officer of Cherokee Nation Businesses. “We are very proud of our employees’ dedication to their neighbors in a time of need.”