Daily Point of Light # 2160 May 15, 2002

Dewayne Howard is retiree who took the bold step of committing himself to the community. After giving several thousand hours to the communities of Bartlesville and Dewey, Oklahoma, he moved to the Claremore, Oklahoma area. Instead of relaxing, Howard sent a letter to Verdigris Middle Schools, letting them know he wanted to be of service. He does not wait for things to happen or to be asked to help on tasks. Howard offers his services.

Howard is an adult volunteer mentor with the PAL Program of Rogers County Volunteers for Youth. In this role, he spends one-on-one time weekly with four students at Verdigris Middle School in Claremore, Oklahoma. In addition, Howard freely volunteers his skills as a tutor to 16 students at the Verdigris school system. Normally, Howard spends more than 20 hours each week volunteering in various capacities at Verdigris Public Schools.

He began his work with the PAL Program after the principal received his letter offering his services. Howard began working with the children during the 200–2001 school year. The principal at Verdigris, Steve Perdue, believes the encouragement he gives to the children is priceless. He says that Howard teaches the children they are special and he believes in them and that he also wants them to believe in themselves. The children and staff look forward to seeing Howard and he is normally at one school each day in the school week.

Along with working as a volunteer, Howard understands there is a great need for more volunteers. He also spends time promoting various programs, especially the PAL Program and recruiting other adults to become volunteers. Howard has written articles for the quarterly newsletter and drafted a portion of the training materials. Moreover, Howard is involved with all the fundraising efforts of the organization.

The community of Claremore, as others, faces problems with juvenile delinquency, teen pregnancy, truancy, school dropout rates and substance abuse. The District Judge for the 12th Judicial District, Dynda Post, said she has seen the number of juvenile court filings steadily increase in their county since 1995. She believes early intervention is the key to deterring juvenile crime. Howard is early intervention. He takes the time to care for children and prove to them that they are deserving of the time he is willing to invest in them and their development. He is consistent and does not “stand them up.” Howard is providing a positive male role model for the students with whom he mentors and everyone with whom he comes into contact.