>> by Jason Davis
BVC Development and Public Relations Specialist
Baptist Village Communities (BVC) honors God by creating communities and services that enhance lives. This enables BVC to serve God and one another. Two individuals who embody this philosophy were honored for their work by LeadingAge Oklahoma, the Oklahoma state association of not-for-profit senior living organizations. Once again, BVC brought home two awards, tied for most by any state organization.
Baptist Village of Owasso’s Norma Whitaker was named resident volunteer of the year, while Ken and Sara Flaming were honored as non-resident volunteers of the year for their service with Baptist Village of Oklahoma City.
Whitaker found her place of ministry in 1987. Baptist Village of Owasso was opening a Village store and needed someone to run it. Norma and husband Gale stepped in.
“I really went into it blind,” recalls Norma. “I’d never (operated a store) before. My dad did have a store after he left the farm, and that was my only experience.”
Nearly 27 years later, she’s still going strong. She refers to it as her “mission,” and it has become her place to serve. Largely through her efforts, residents can shop for a wide variety of items without leaving campus.
It truly is remarkable the work that goes into daily operation. Norma purchases the products and spends hours stocking and pricing items. She uses coupons and sales to keep prices low while still being profitable. She coordinates a volunteer network to keep the store running Monday through Friday.
One-hundred percent of store profit goes right back into Village ministry. The store has donated more than $31,000 over the years toward various projects and campus improvements. The amount of labor put in during 26-plus years is astounding, but she doesn’t want attention brought to herself. She just enjoys seeing residents maintain their independence.
The Flamings have had a life authored by service. Their volunteer work includes traveling to more than 25 countries on mission trips, serving their local church, doing construction and helping individuals in need. However, they have given their last eight years in service to Baptist Village of Oklahoma City.
Ken began volunteering on the maintenance team to fill a need for more manpower. He could be seen going into apartments with tools and completing work orders, ending each visit with the words, “Is there anything else I can do for you while I’m here?” His philosophy was to ensure residents’ needs are met.
Chris Finley, director of chaplain services, soon enlisted Ken and his wife Sara to call on residents in need of prayer or a pastoral visit. This blossomed into Sara conducting weekly ladies prayer time in residents’ homes.
Sara also orchestrated life enrichment events for residential living residents. She planned day trips to museums, concerts, sightseeing around Oklahoma, and dining destinations. She also conducted monthly birthday parties, special dinners and seasonal events.
Ken and Sara have repeatedly gone above and beyond in giving of their times, finances, talents and knowledge in service to Baptist Village. They have truly made a heartfelt difference in the lives of residents and Friends Team members.
Whitaker and the Flamings were honored for service, but this passion is carried our by more than 750 friends Team Members every day, as they serve more than 2,200 people across Oklahoma. For more information, call toll-free 866/887-2872 or visit baptistvillage.org.