At Christ-centered Polk County KLIFE, teens find their way

Chuck and Jamie Martin lead Polk County KLIFE.
Chuck and Jamie Martin lead Polk County KLIFE.

To Bolivar High School senior Annie Roberts, a Christ-centered organization called Polk County KLIFE has meant, well, everything.

“I was relatively … not shy but I wouldn’t talk as much. I didn’t have a lot to say. I struggled with self-worth,” said Roberts, a KLIFE member since the sixth grade. “But things changed at KLIFE. It just grows your relationship with the Lord. Being a kid in small groups, it’s been a growing experience and has meant so much.”

Polk County KLIFE certainly can be a positive influence in the lives of young people, and is hoping to expand its reach with your help. The non-profit is new this year to the Price Cutter Charity Championship presented by Dr Pepper, a PGA Web.com Tour stop in August in Springfield.

The tournament has generated almost $12 million for Ozarks-area children’s charities, including a record $1 million-plus last year alone. Here’s how to help this year’s 45 charities, including Polk County KLIFE:

SUPPORTING THE PCCC = SUPPORTING CHARITIES

Buy a $25 TLC Properties Charity Sweepstakes ticket and all the money goes to your favorite charity -- and you also could win this 2015 Ford Mustang.
Buy a $25 TLC Properties Charity Sweepstakes ticket and all the money goes to your favorite charity — and you also could win this 2015 Ford Mustang.
  • HELP POLK COUNTY KLIFE: The Bolivar-based non-profit is a youth ministry focused on mentoring, coaching and disciplining teens. To help or donate through the PCCC, call 417-266-3500.
  • BUSINESS SPONSORSHIPS: Businesses can support the PCCC through various sponsorships, such as the daily newsletter, website or through several events such as a dozen Pro-Ams. Call the PCCC staff at 417-887-3400.
  • BUSINESS GIFT CARDS: Restaurants, clothing stores and entertainment stops and such are asked to donate a gift card with at least a $25 value in the name of your charity of choice to benefit them in the Golf Ball Charity Auction.
  • FOR GOLF FANS, WIN PRIZES: The purchase of a $25 TLC Properties Charity Sweepstakes ticket enters you to win daily prizes during the tournament. You’re also entered to win grand prizes of $10,000 and a 2015 Ford Mustang – and you can see the golfers, too. A ticket also serves as a four-day tournament pass.
  • TICKET REVENUE GOES WHERE: Contact the local charity of your choice, simply because they receive revenue directly from those TLC Property Charity Sweepstakes tickets marked with their names.
  • WHEN, WHERE: The tournament is Aug. 7-17 at Highland Springs Country Club, with the pros playing beginning Aug. 13.
  • CONTACT: Call the Price Cutter Charity Championship staff at 417-887-3400.

About Polk County KLIFE

KLIFE-bus

Roberts is emblematic of KLIFE’s success stories. She’s now a leader in the organization’s “klubs” and has found a calling. She is more out-going and is on the dance team at Bolivar High School. After graduation, she plans to attend Southwest Baptist University and pursue a degree in secondary education.

You see, she doesn’t shy away from standing in front of a classroom. Helping kids is a top priority.

“My freshman year in high school, I wouldn’t have even thought of SBU,” said Roberts, who wants to move into a leadership role at KLIFE. “Now if you ask me, I don’t want to go anywhere else. I feel like the Lord wants me to be there.”

Through KLIFE, Roberts has achieved just what the organization sets out to do: build relationships centered on the gospel.

The organization began as a follow-up ministry for Kanakuk Kamps in the 1980s, but the ministry has grown to reach both Kanakuk campers as well as students who do not attend Kanakuk.

KLIFE-camp

These days, KLIFE has 31 chapters across the country and a local board governs each chapter. And, most importantly, organizers try to keep it relevant for today’s youths. The Polk County chapter offers hangouts such as the 5th Quarter following football games, or snow sledding as well as a big trip each semester. This past spring, it was a trip to Silver Dollar City.

As Roberts put it, “This year, we started workshop clubs and it’s a good way to go from the excitement of games to the excitement of the lesson.”

Ben Salmon, chapter director of Polk County KLIFE, concurs.

“That’s one of the things we like about it,” Salmon said. “Everybody wants to feel they belong. We want to show that (all students) are great and there is a place where they belong.”

 

For families with hospitalized kids, Ronald McDonald House offers comfort

Owen Blakey of Ava was born nine weeks premature but, thanks to the Ronald McDonald House, his family had a place to stay during his weeks-long care at the hospital.
Owen Blakey of Ava was born nine weeks premature but, thanks to the Ronald McDonald House, his family had a place to rest during his weeks-long hospital stay.

For the Blakey family of Ava, you can only imagine the worry. A few years ago, baby Owen made his debut nine weeks early, weighing only 3 pounds, 6 ounces and needing round-the-clock care at Cox South Hospital in Springfield.

Fortunately, the nearby Ronald McDonald House provided the family some comfort for several weeks.

“Each day in the NICU can bring new challenges physically and emotionally,” Mom Anne Blakey said. “Having the Ronald McDonald House so close allowed me to maximize my time by Owen’s side, without worrying about gas and traveling back and forth from home. The comfort, support and amenities provided by the RMH lifted a large burden.”

It’s probably no wonder, then, that this is one of the many stories that brings a smile to the President and CEO of the Ronald McDonald House, Bonnie Keller. She’s led the non-profit since its inception in 1988.

Even better, the Price Cutter Charity Championship presented by Dr Pepper has been a strong supporter of the Ronald McDonald House since the tournament’s own inception 26 years ago.

Now here’s your chance again to assist the Ronald McDonald House and watch the PGA Web.com Tour stop in August in Springfield, if not win prizes. A year ago, the tournament distributed a record $1 million-plus to Ozarks-area children’s charities.

SUPPORTING THE PCCC = SUPPORTING CHARITIES

Buy a $25 TLC Properties Charity Sweepstakes ticket and all the money goes to your favorite charity -- and you also could win this 2015 Ford Mustang.
Buy a $25 TLC Properties Charity Sweepstakes ticket and all the money goes to your favorite charity — and you also could win this 2015 Ford Mustang.
  • HELP RONALD McDONALD HOUSE: The Springfield non-profit offers two locations that provide temporary, home away from homes for families when their seriously ill or injured child is hospitalized far from home. To help or if in need of assistance, call 417-886-0225.
  • BUSINESS SPONSORSHIPS: Businesses can support the PCCC through various sponsorships, such as the daily newsletter, website or through several events such as a dozen Pro-Ams. Call the PCCC staff at 417-887-3400.
  • BUSINESS GIFT CARDS: Restaurants, clothing stores and entertainment stops and such are asked to donate a gift card with at least a $25 value in the name of your charity of choice to benefit them in the Golf Ball Charity Auction.
  • FOR GOLF FANS, WIN PRIZES: The purchase of a $25 TLC Properties Charity Sweepstakes ticket enters you to win daily prizes during the tournament. You’re also entered to win grand prizes of $10,000 and a 2015 Ford Mustang – and you can see the golfers, too. A ticket also serves as a four-day tournament pass.
  • TICKET REVENUE GOES WHERE: Contact the local charity of your choice, simply because they receive revenue directly from those TLC Property Charity Sweepstakes tickets marked with their names.
  • WHEN, WHERE: The tournament is Aug. 7-17 at Highland Springs Country Club, with the pros playing beginning Aug. 13.
  • CONTACT: Call the Price Cutter Charity Championship staff at 417-887-3400.

About the Ronald McDonald House

Bonnie Keller is the President and CEO of Springfield's Ronald McDonald House.
Bonnie Keller is the President and CEO of Springfield’s Ronald McDonald House.

In her tucked-away office at the Ronald McDonald House near Cox South Hospital, Keller cannot help but beam.

This is an organization that, thanks in part to the PCCC, has grown tremendously over the years. In 2002, it dispatched a dental truck. In 2012, it opened a second facility near Mercy Hospital in central Springfield. Each have served important causes, given many small-town families turn to Springfield’s two major hospitals.

And to think the Ronald McDonald House has been part of the PCCC since its inception. Keller still remembers PGA great and Springfield native Payne Stewart turning out to support the event, and NBC “Today Show” meteorologist Willard Scott broadcasting live from Highland Springs Country Club.

That’s when the tournament in the early days was the Ben Hogan Greater Ozarks Open, and Ronald McDonald House was the primary charity – and handled just about everything, from sweepstakes tickets to securing sponsors.

“I’ve been really fortunate to be doing what I’m doing,” Keller said, and then offered words that you won’t forget. “It’s a great way to spend a life.”

Read the Ronald McDonald website, and you'll run into stories like the Brown family of Ozark. They now give back.
Read the Ronald McDonald website, and you’ll run into stories like the Brown family of Ozark. They now give back after the House helped them greatly.

Which is understandable when you think of the many ways Ronald McDonald House provides peace of mind for families – those with children, from pre-birth to age 21, who have been hospitalized because of a serious illness or injury.

Each House, which requires only a $7 overnight fee, is staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year by dedicated members of its management team and volunteers.

The House, which has facilities near Cox and Mercy hospitals, has aided more than 10,000 families since opening, with nine nights the average length of stay. From New Year’s Day through the end of May this year, the non-profit has cared for 359 families.

It’s truly a home. Each family has its own room, a comfortable bed and kitchen and laundry facilities. Donated food items are available in case they’re needed, and nearly every evening, volunteers and special outside groups prepare entire meals for guests.

Overall, it’s a place where families can deal more easily with the chaos and uncertainty brought on by catastrophic illness or injury.

And, if you’re curious of its real impact, just visit the Ronald McDonald House’s website. Scroll through the stories of some of the families assisted, and it’s easy to tear up – partly because of their situations but also because of the thanks they offer to the house.

For instance, take the Michael and Patti Brown family of Ozark, whose baby Jase also was born six weeks early.

This is how well the Ronald McDonald House made such a positive impact:

“We love going back and taking dinner to the families there now,” the family said, “as a small way to show our appreciation for all the Ronald McDonald House did for us.”

For a video of the House, click this link: http://www.rmhcozarks.org/rmh/