For The Children Weekly Column

New Year Brings New Ways to Make a Difference


Contact: Joe Dorman, CEO – Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy

Telephone: (405) 833-1117


OKLAHOMA CITY – With a new year ahead of us, it is customary to make resolutions. I hope each of you resolves to help improve your community, your state, and your nation by getting involved.

I encourage you to join a local organization which helps make a difference through their work, such as a civic organization like Rotary, Lions, Kiwanis, Elks, or others. These weekly gatherings are often good for the soul and help build friendships. Also consider serving on a board for a nonprofit organization.

I would also ask that you volunteer for a program which you feel is worthy in improving lives. Many of my friends are active volunteers for programs doing good work. We have nearly one million children in Oklahoma, and there are four million people living here overall.

If just one adult took time to be active in the life of a child, that would make a world of difference to that individual youth. The study of Adverse Childhood Experiences, known as ACEs, shows Oklahoma ranks as one of the worst states for toxic trauma throughout childhood. The counter, Protective and Compensatory Experiences, known as PACEs, show that when adults play a positive role for a child, those acts help counter the negative.

Voting is also of key importance. Oklahoma has one of the worst rates of voting in the United States, and the U.S. is often very low in the percentage of qualified voters who go to the polls to cast a ballot. We often trumpet the “Oklahoma Standard” when it comes to being supportive of our neighbors, but I will tell you that it is important to follow suit and use your voice when it comes to selecting those who represent us in decisions made by the government.

Young people are often categorically the worst percent of those who vote, often feeling their vote will not matter or does not count. When people do not vote, they make this a self-fulfilling prophecy showing that their vote truly did not count.

Reaching out to officials and sharing ideas is also critical. Very rarely do lawmakers hear from constituents, the people who live in their boundaries for the office in which they serve. They will tell you that if they hear from just a few people about a bill going through the State Capitol, then it must mean this issue is important to people. Those few people who reach out are the ones who help direct the decisions made by policymakers.

On that note, if you are not satisfied with who represents you, then think about running for an office. I would encourage you to start with those levels closest to the people, such as school boards and city council positions. I am certainly not saying that every elected official needs an opponent, but it is good to have a choice when it comes to who should hold a job that does so much in deciding policies which impact each of us.

I loved my time as an elective official, both as a state representative and as a member of my hometown city council. I knew I was helping contribute back to my state by serving. Sometime even running and not winning helps accomplish good.

There are other ways to get involved and save lives. On that list is also for you to consider being a blood donor if you are able and allowed. There is a great shortage each year for blood donations, and this directly helps save lives.

Please go forth in 2024 and live up to the Oklahoma Standard by engaging in your community and doing good.