By: Tom Fink | Category: Rogers County | Issue: September 2020
Home of Hope CEO Ralph Richardson.
For decades, the people of Claremore have rallied around Home of Hope and its subsidiary, the Rogers County Training Center, every year at an annual fundraising golf tournament.
Even in a year as unusual and unprecedented as 2020, like any good golfer, Home of Hope has found a means by which to play past its many hazards and bring back the annual Rogers County Training Center Golf Classic & 19th Hole Silent Auction.
“Like everyone else, we’ve had to spend much of 2020 living through a pandemic,” said Home of Hope CEO Ralph Richardson, Ph.D. “You know, the world changes all the time, but this – the pandemic – has been something in which the entire world has changed, and in a way, that’s kind of a summary of what the people in our programs have gone through.”
For those unfamiliar, Rogers County Training Center – a subsidiary of Home of Hope – provides vocational opportunities for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities while providing local businesses with labor.
Rogers County Training Center client Jason working diligently at the Claremore site. RCTC is a subsidiary of Vinita-based Home of Hope.
But few could have foreseen the prolonged disruption of everyday routines incurred by the pandemic.
“We have programs that are designed around empowering people with disabilities, and that means giving them opportunities to go out into the community, giving them opportunities to work, and to experience employment and to earn a paycheck of their own,” he said. “For many people living with intellectual disabilities, these are things that they grew up believing they would never have. What this means is we create opportunities for social engagement, for involvement in activities, and also for involvement in Special Olympics, which is on a level beyond anyone else’s participation in Oklahoma.
“All of that stopped – all of it,” he said. Richardson said that, as the rest of the world learned about the extent of the pandemic, Home of Hope’s vocational programs for those with intellectual disabilities had to be shut down for a period of time, but even during this, Home of Hope, like many, worked to make the most of the situation on behalf of its clients.
“Our direct care staff have been phenomenal, in trying to take days during which people had lost their entire routine and sense of accomplishment, their entire sense of connection, and try to make – not just something okay – but something exceptional, which went on for months,” he said. “We worked very hard as an organization to create activity opportunities, ideas for interaction, contests that people in different houses could compete in – our house staff truly rose to the occasion to make sure our clients got up, got around, found purpose in the day, and stayed involved until such time that we were able to slowly get back to more consistent routine operations.”
Limited face to face visits and reopening the training center in Claremore, albeit at a reduced capacity and with an increased focus on pandemic-related safety protocols, has, for many Home of Hope clients, helped them regain a sense of normalcy.
“We’ve done a lot, but we still have a long way to go – we serve people in 61 different homes, in six different communities, so making sure the abilities to connect with our clients are robust is something we’re still working diligently on,” he said. “We believe the investments we’re making now in terms of technology to enhance our ability for our clients to connect with family and with medical professionals…we don’t feel that this is something we’re doing just until we get back to ‘normal,’ we feel like these are long-term investments. In some ways, this is going to be the new ‘normal,’ especially with regards to telehealth and telemedicine.”
Even with the short- and long-term modifications, Home of Hope still felt it important to host its benefit golf tournament.
“The golf classic will be done largely as it has been done in the past – it is an outdoor event, and we will be practicing some new (safety) modifications in terms of how we handle registration and how we provide lunch,” he said. “We’re fortunate in that this, being an outdoor event, is much more ‘doable’ than an inside event, many of which have had to be done differently or canceled this year.”
The differences between this year’s event and previous years will be minor, Richardson said, but should still allow for all the same enjoyment had in years past.
The tournament itself is a four-man scramble format with designated tee times and flights. Although there is no limit to the number of golfers or teams allowed, tee times can fill up early, so early sign-up is strongly encouraged.
“This is always a great day for everyone involved,” Richardson said, “and with everything that’s been different about this year, I’m glad we’re still going to be able to host this event – it truly does impact people’s lives.”
The 35th Annual Rogers County Training Center Golf Classic & 19th Hole Silent Auction is scheduled for Friday, September 19, at Heritage Hills Golf Course in Claremore.
For more information about the 35th Annual Rogers County Training Center Golf Classic & 19th Hole Silent Auction, contact Amy Littleton at 918-283-8953 or email eat1@eau1eav1eaw1.
For more information about the Rogers County Training Center, call 918-341-5936.
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