A Word from the Interim Executive Director
I have had the pleasure of knowing Rev. Don my whole like and working with him daily for the past five years. I worked as the Childcare Director, Human Resources Director, and Education Director here at the Oaks Indian Mission. It has been a blessing to have worked so closely with Rev. Don, and to have witnessed his passion for the Mission. Don led by action more than words, if you ever listened to one of his sermons, he breathed fire and passion with his words. Don never wavered in his desire to serve the Lord. I will always be grateful for his presence in my life.
I have lived around Oaks nearly all my life. I have been married to my high school sweetheart Ashley for 25 years. We own a small farm/ranch that has been in our family for 3 generations. We have two wonderful children, our daughter, Julia who is our oldest is completing her master's degree in Forensic Psychology at Arizona State University and will graduate this May. Cameron our son, has started his second semester at Oklahoma State University and is majoring in Pre-Veterinarian Medicine. My undergraduate degree is from Northeastern State University in Education, and my master's degree is from Southern Nazarene University in School Administration. Before coming to the Mission, I was a high school Vocational Tech/Ag teacher, high school coach, a reserve sheriff's deputy for Cherokee County and a volunteer EMT/firefighter. I also served for many years in the United States Army. My military career ended in Ft/ Benning, Georgia when my parachute failed to open during training in Airborne school. God sure has a unique way of getting you on the right path in life.
Serving has been my life's passion but, none of my experiences have been more rewarding than serving God and this wonderful ministry. It was indeed a blessing when I was welcomed into the Lutheran family. There have been many members of the Lutheran family that have taught me how to be a better Christian; Re. Don Marshall, Sol Bird Mockicin, Rev. Dick Jebsen, Bishop Mike Girlinghouse, Bishop Floyd Schoenhals, Phil Larsen, the Hickory Grove lutheran Church from Auburn, Nebraska, and its members such as Bob Butler and Don Gerdes. I am sure they did not realize that their actions have shown me how to truly enjoy life through God.
Oaks has been blessed to have staff members that have dedicated many years of service to this ministry. Our goal is to continue with Rev. Don's vision: a beautiful place to call home that provides ministry and care for our Native American children. As a coach I created a quote that helped me understand that a sport is an opportunity to teach children about life, "Prepare students for life and they will prepare your program for success." With dedicated staff, a strong Board of Directors and the amazing donors and friends, we can prepare our students for life outside the Oaks Indian Mission. What a beautiful thing to give a child, a chance to be successful in life.
Thank you for all the support that each one of you has shown over these many years. This ministry and the Native American children we serve have a special place in my heart.
Interim Executive Director