Margaret Swimmer: Our glass is half full — and more

By MARGARET SWIMMER | 5 comments

As I sat down to write this column, I reflected on where we have been in Tulsa and Oklahoma and where we are going in a world that is quickly evolving in many areas. Do we have a glass half empty or a glass half full? I concluded that Tulsa indeed has a glass more than half full.

Oklahoma’s legislative year ended after much controversy over budget priorities in a year with fewer dollars and increasing needs for our core responsibilities in health care, education, mental health and incarceration.

With the exception of general agreement that these areas should be funded, no practical improvements or funded solutions were enacted. So we have much work left to do!
Fortunately, we are blessed to have many accomplished and selfless individuals to lead us in the right direction. Among many other voices for education, Oklahoma elected a new state schools superintendent who is willing to stand up for excellence in common education, and David Boren continues his fight for excellence in higher education regardless of the hit it received in state appropriations. In addition, voices are rising to demand we address the health needs in Oklahoma.
But we need courageous elected officials to take smart and innovative government action to provide resources. We must accept Medicaid dollars for the health of our most vulnerable citizens, or else, find the resources to fund the medical necessities for our most vulnerable citizens.
Oklahomans, we know what needs to be done. Let’s make real progress during the next year!
On to more positive thoughts: As spring arrived, then summer, I was reminded why we love living in Tulsa — such a beautiful, kind city. We sell Tulsa to others as we travel across the country.
Tulsa is in a renaissance, and it is exciting to see the changes. Our downtown has again become a focus for activities for adults, and for families and children. It is impossible to list them all. Just go to the Tulsa World for weekly lists of events in Tulsa.
Tulsa is best defined by the giving nature of its citizens. We are blessed to have the Kaisers, Zarrows, Helmerichs, Warrens, QuikTrip, and Williams Companies, among many, many others who have given a lasting legacy and continue to give generously.
And, we also have many individuals and businesses that donate not only dollars but also volunteer hours to make life better for the less fortunate. One of our favorite caring agencies is the Assistance League of Tulsa that exemplifies Tulsa’s heart. An all-volunteer agency, with a Bargains Resale Store at 3408 East 11th St., this group is dedicated to serving students in need. At the site, volunteer personal shoppers greet some 2,000 excited elementary school students who are identified and brought to the store by their counselors. The students are overjoyed to select their own school uniforms, new clothing and shoes that fit. Another 46,000 uniform shirts are delivered to area schools during the year. Funds raised by generous community donors and the Bargains Store make all this possible. This past year, the devoted members volunteered more than 30,000 hours and raised over $750,000. This represents volunteerism and philanthropy at its Tulsa finest!
There is not space or time to identify all the many good people and organizations in Tulsa or to list all the wonderful activities available to the public to enjoy.
One way to experience Tulsa is to take a walk through our neighborhoods and parks. This past weekend was beautiful, and with all the rain, we had a unique opportunity finally to see the Arkansas River full of water from bank to bank for several weeks. What a gorgeous sight.
This year Tulsa was named by the New York Times as one of the 50 best cities in the world to visit along with Paris and Rome. Again, I urge you to get behind the dam project and keep water flowing in our beautiful city. This one opportunity to provide entertainment and recreation opportunities from kayaking to concerts and much more, must finally be achieved to make Tulsa truly the most beautiful city in America.

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