RETREET redefines disaster relief by engaging communities to replant lost trees.
OKC RETREET II November 12th+13th, 2016
We began our work in Moore, OK, last year in the response to the devastating EF5 tornado that struck on May 20, 2013. Winds reached up to 210 mph, killing 24 people and injuring 377 others. The aftermath was major international news and our involvement in the recovery was a sure thing, especially given the proximity to our home base in Dallas. Initial contact in Oklahoma was made through Texas A&M Forest Service, with whom we have partnered in Bastrop, Wimberley, and Possum Kingdom Lake, TX. After a year of planning, OKC RETREET took place at the end of Oklahoma Arbor Week in late March 2015, during which 168 trees were planted at 77 home sites with the support of Oklahoma Forestry Services, City of Moore, Arbor Day Foundation, Serve Moore, and The Home Depot Foundation. It was the first step in the transformation of an unfamiliar and barren landscape.
DESTRUCTION FROM THE MAY 2013 TORNADO
At the beginning of this year, the Neighborhood Alliance of Oklahoma contacted us with exciting news: Lions Clubs International had funding available to continue our important work in central Oklahoma and our local partners recommended RETREET for the job. In mid-June, we inked plans for OKC RETREET II - NeighborRoots and began forming our coalition, building upon the previous year's cadre. With this newfound support, we knew OKC RETREET II would be our best event yet.
LIONS CLUB INTERNATIONAL FUNDED OKC RETREET II
Following months of careful planning, RETREET staff arrived in OKC on Monday, November 7th, and set about making final preparations for the planting the following weekend. By that time, OKIE 811 had marked all utility lines at every home and a member of TEAM LOCATE, a coalition of local partners including representatives from Oklahoma Forestry Services and Oklahoma County OSU Cooperative Extension Service, already had visited with each resident and determined the best planting location for every tree.
RETREET STAFF FINALIZING PLANS IN THE NACOK OFFICE
RETREETers began planting on Friday, the 11th, in Shawnee, a small community about 40 miles east of OKC. The following day, 78 volunteers representing 7 states gathered in Veterans Memorial Park. There, they were instructed in proper tree planting techniques, after which they practiced planting in the park. Small groups were formed and issued a complement of tools, water, snacks, and lunch. They were then sent to 10 homes sites each. By the end of the day, 215 trees, all 15-gallons in size, had been planted at 175 homes. The planting party celebrated a job well done at Serve Moore Community Renewal Center, where guests were treated to a Persian feast from Chef Daniel Avazpour and the musical stylings of Dirty Little Betty's. A number of locals for whom trees had been planted that day joined the fun.
TEAM DEPOT POSES WITH LOCAL MEMBERS OF LIONS CLUB INTERNATIONAL, OKLAHOMA FORESTRY SERVICES, AND RETREET STAFF
The following day, RETREETers enjoyed a special tour of the grounds of Oklahoma City National Memorial Museum courtesy of Mark Bays from Oklahoma Forestry Services, who had a major hand in both the design of the park and the care of the Survivor Tree. After that, the group geared up for a bicycle ride around Lake Hefner. The perfect finale to an amazing weekend! Check out the PHOTO ALBUM.