Creating Impact Through Giving Episode 3: Keep Your Distance But Keep Moving, OKC!

Dan Martel: You're listening to Creating Impact Through Giving, a podcast brought to you by the Oklahoma City Community Foundation providing you with the stories, techniques and tools around impactful giving. On this show, we'll talk to donors, professional advisors, nonprofit leaders and our team of experts to identify charitable strategies that have resulted in some of our most impactful gifts.

Hello, I'm your host Dan Martel and in today's episode, we want to explore a different impact area at the Oklahoma City Community Foundation - our programs. In addition to our funds, we run a variety of programs here at the Community Foundation. They were established to address certain needs in the community, like beautification through our Parks & Public Space Initiative, as well as our wellness initiative, which is something we're going to be talking about today. In 2014, our Trustees came to the conclusion that staying active and educating people about the benefits of physical activity, especially outdoors, is something that could very positively benefit Oklahomans. They also realized that by tapping into our network of partners and nonprofits, this is an area in which we could actually move the needle here in the community.

In the last decade, our wellness initiative has transformed into a multi-faceted program and today we have the chance to talk to Talita DeNegri and Kristi Birk-Steinberg about an exciting new initiative and the community partners that will help us make it a reality.

I'm excited to first welcome Talita DeNegri to our studio - hi, Talita!

Talita DeNegri: Hello, Dan!

Dan: Can't wait to learn a little bit more about the OCCF wellness initiative today, but before we go any further, it's time to reveal what we're really going to talk about: Last month, OCCF kicked off its new wellness initiative called Keep Moving OKC with the goal to become the number one resource for free or low-cost wellness activities in the OKC metro. The website located at www.KeepMovingOKC.org is a free-to-use resource for community members and organizations to search for and promote wellness events right here in central Oklahoma. But before we get to it, tell us your involvement with OCCF.

Talita: Well, there's a little bit of back history. OCCF has been extremely supportive and generous to our educational community and with me being a high school principal at Mount Saint Mary, they have been supportive of our counselors of our students, so I've had a connection with them through our school community. Then, three years ago, I was invited to become a board member and now I can't believe it's already been 3 years and I have so very much enjoyed meeting the people who sit on that board and who are dedicated to the community of Oklahoma City and surrounding areas and I have learned so very much, so very much.

Dan: You know, originally the wellness initiative started out as a grant program and then it's evolved into a communications strategy to encourage healthy activities. So here's the question today: what is the Community Foundation role in presenting a community message about being healthy?

Talita: Oklahoma City, or for that matter Oklahoma, has not been a very healthy state.

Dan: That's right, you're right.

Talita: And so, several years ago, with our wellness committee, we formed and we began sitting down and talking as a task force, so to speak. It started out as Nancy Anthony likes to teasingly lovingly say, it was like we were looking for programs for church and it just was, it was a start but it wasn't enough and we weren't broadening the educational efforts. We weren't expanding the audience and so we were looking first at just older generations and the older community. Well, as everybody knows, in order to start making changes you have to get to the root of the problem and you have to begin looking at the younger generation, the younger community members. And so, we put together a committee, we all had different opinions but that was the beauty of the discussion. We recognized from all different areas of our backgrounds, and let's see how we can survey various age groups and various disciplines within the city and we gathered all of that data and it took about a year-and-a-half to do that. And we would hit a roadblock, we would struggle with an obstacle in front of us, and we were able to all come together and formulate a plan and idea and take off with it.

Dan: I agree with you. I want to go back to one thing you'd said it's really because you struck on something that's really important. Why are young people an important target to this initiative?

Talita: Not only do they offer a wide variety of ideas, suggestions, but also, it becomes ingrained within them, therefore when they start forming their families, having their families, raising their children in that type of an active environment, it's ongoing, is systemic and it keeps going and going. And then, of course, the ideas become broader and more fun and more exciting and it involves a larger community.

Dan: Absolutely. That is spot-on. You know, why should Colorado be ranked the number one healthiest state?

Talita: Doggone it, we're right behind them!

Dan: Yeah, only 46 more spots to catch Colorado! (laughs) But I think you're right though. As we continue to educate young people about this exciting initiative and staying healthy and living healthier lives, it's only going to be better as future generations of Oklahomans continue to emerge and stay here, which is exciting. So I'm going to keep going here. How would you describe the value of the OCCF wellness initiative in the context of role in the community?

Talita: It's invaluable because there's nothing too small, there's nothing that they aren't willing to listen to when it comes to ideas, and to believe in the ideas, and be willing to support them in numerous capacities, whether it be funding or whether it be offering other suggestions or providing another outlet for us to consider. Their commitment, their loyalty to the wellness initiative is just invaluable and we appreciate their trust and their support.

Dan: You know, one of the things, as I have been working on Keep Moving [OKC], this whole idea of your user groups came about. Can you talk a little bit about this user group and how you work with them?

Talita: If we want a product to work then you need to get together those who are going to use that product. So, the idea came, alright, let's invite groups of user groups who would want to put their products on the site and let's come up with... how can we help you. Help us, help you.

Dan: That's brilliant. You know, we all live in a very unpleasant time right now with Covid. How has that affected some of the outdoor activities that...and has it perhaps prevented organizations or individuals or groups from wanting to be part of Keep Moving OKC?

Talita: It has. Every aspect of society has been affected. But I'll tell you this: that user group? It's more of a community, of a family coming together to help one another all for the sake of, let's get everybody up and out there and let's not focus on a problem and let's see what we can do to help one another.

Dan: You know, it sounds like you guys are truly making lemonade out of lemons in this Covid pandemic, so, good for you guys. Again, I'm talking to Talita DeNegri here, Trustee with the Oklahoma City Community Foundation who works on our wellness initiative, Keep Moving OKC, an exciting website that allows people all over the Oklahoma City metro to go on KeepMovingOKC.org and find activities, healthy things to do during the summer and into the fall. Whether you like to bike or hike or do yoga in the park or any of those things, so we're really excited about this initiative. So, I want to ask you one final question, Talita. What are your hopes and goals for the future of Keep Moving OKC?

Talita: First of all, we want to keep it sustainable, on-going, but I want to grow so that anyone, no matter what age, can find something on the site to help them to keep moving. And we want to make it accessible, affordable and doable. But we can't become stagnant. We're going to catch up to Colorado, but we have to continue to keep growing. There's got to be another challenge ahead of us and we have to keep striving to do better, to be better for our community.

Dan: I want to thank you again, Talita, for being on the show today, Talita DeNegri, one of the trustees with Oklahoma City Community Foundation talking about Keep Moving OKC, and for all you listeners, it's KeepMovingOKC.org. Go there now and start living a healthier and more exciting lifestyle. Thanks, Talita.

Talita: Thank you for this opportunity.

Dan: Later, stay tuned for my conversation with Caitlynne Miller from the OKC Mom blog, who will share her secrets on how to keep kids entertained during a pandemic and how to find the best free or low-cost activities and events for your family. Now I want to bring in the woman that runs the day-to-day business and outreach behind the initiative: Kristi Birk-Steinberg. Hi, Kristi, thanks for being here today.

Kristi Birk-Steinberg: Hi, thank you for having me.

Dan: So, I want to jump right in. Tell me what about Keep Moving OKC, how does the website work?

Kristi: Yeah, absolutely, Keep Moving OKC is a wellness initiative of the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. The trustees are the ones who are funding it, so it can be free for use through our foundation. And we launched about a month ago on June 6th, no sorry, June 19th and we've been open for business, if you will, for a little over a month. From that, we have over 40 organizations that are posting their events on the website, including city and town municipalities. And when people go to KeepMovingOKC.org, on the homepage, they're able to access any events that are that have been put on there by the organizations, whether it's a free event, whether it's a kids and families event, whether they're wanting to find something in a park on a trail. We have over 100 venues, whether, again that's parks, trails or venues that are attractions, like the Myriad Gardens, like Scissortail Park. And it's really great that we have the opportunity here at the Community Foundation into one centralized location that anybody can access if they have internet.

Dan: Cool. You know, I did a little scrolling on the website and I think, just for our viewers, too, it's amazing how many free and low-cost activities there really are across the metro right now, for people that can take advantage of it and, like you mentioned earlier, Kristi, whether they're into biking or hiking or running or any of those, they can find these places right now in the metro to take advantage of them. Who are you trying to reach with this initiative?

Kristi: We're looking to reach all Oklahoma City metro area community members but in particular, we're trying to reach those marginalized community members that may not have access to any events at a higher cost. So, we wanted to create this platform, this website for people of every community in our metro area targeting everyone from as north as Edmond to as south as Norman, to as east as Harrah and as west as El Reno. So, we have a pretty large area to gather events from. That's kids as young as two or three or our senior adults, we have a little bit of everything.

Dan: Why should organizations join and what's in it for them in terms of benefits and advertising and things like that?

Kristi: Yeah, this website gives them a broader audience for their events. So, it's a trade-off. We post their events on our website, we publicize them through social media and through newsletters, through emails. And, as we move forward, our marketing and advertisement will become larger. And in turn, what we ask of them is to bring people to the website. So, giving people the opportunity to add their events on our website, again, gives them a broader audience, gives them more opportunity to reach the people that they may not have the opportunity to engage with and then it builds their audiences as well.

Dan: Well, you know, like so many things across our city and across the country, Covid-19 has impacted all kinds of original plans and I know this was supposed to be a particular launch that you were involved in. How did you end up pivoting to get the word out to people?

Kristi: We've really utilized social media and word of mouth. We asked our organizations to talk to other organizations that are similar to theirs or we ask our friends to mention it to someone else and just those connections, especially with social media, can sometimes go further than any other type of advertisement. You know, we are utilizing different blogs, we are reaching out to for-profit businesses, as well as non-profit organizations. Not only are we doing that, but we're also offering virtual activities on the website. So, it's been good for people to not only have that opportunity but for us to have added that category into our website.

Dan: Sounds like you guys are really making it work, again it's KeepMovingOKC.org for anybody that's out there listening right now. I want to ask you a final question here, Kristi. How would you like to see Keep Moving OKC grow?

Kristi: I would love to see everyone and anyone using it throughout the metro area to find physical activity events. Events can sometimes be intimidating if you're starting your physical activity journey, which is why we offer the park in the trails if you want to start out solo before you jump into an event. But I would love to see this publicized in schools. I would love to see this publicized in different social media groups in those marginalized communities. I would love to see this absolutely everywhere because if people are accessing it, then they hopefully are attending those events and ultimately finding what physical activity means to them and finding their passion.

Dan: I think you just nailed it, finding their passion. That's exactly right. So, we want everybody to follow, obviously, you guys and you can follow them @keepmovingokc on Instagram and Facebook. And keep your distance but always remember to keep moving! Thanks, Kristi, for being on the podcast!

Finally, we want to hear from someone who has already used the site and can tell our listeners first-hand about why they should pull up their browser right now and search for KeepMovingOKC.org. I'm happy to welcome Caitlynne Miller to the studio. Caitlin is a mom of three and co-owner of the popular OKC mom blog, an online community with over 27,000 followers on Instagram and Facebook alone. Hi, Caitlynne!

Caitynne Miller: Hi! Thanks for having me.

Dan: We know times are easy, so the most important question first: how's it going working from home with three boys running around?

Caitlynne: Well it's a little bit crazy! They are very busy and they require a lot of attention. They're used to being at school and so having them home with access to all of their own stuff, it's been an adjustment but it's it has been fun.

Dan: Good! Tell us a little bit about yourself and your role at OKC mom blog.

Caitlynne: So, when I first became a mom, I was looking for resources and that sense of community and I stumbled upon Oklahoma City mom's blog. And after a few years, I realized that I was reading everything that they put out and I wanted to get more involved. So, I signed on as a contributor and I loved it. I loved that sense of community and after a few years of that, the former owner was wanting to step down and so, another contributor and I decided to take over because we felt like that sense of community was so important for the city and we wanted to keep that going.

Dan: And I would imagine, especially during this time right now, you know, there's a lot of moms out there that are probably looking for and seeking advice and you're probably helping a lot of these women right now.

Caitlynne: We like to hope so. (laughs)

Dan: How are you keeping your kids entertained during this pandemic and are there maybe any tips for grandparents, like me, out there that you might have.

Caitlynne: Well, when this first started, we struggled, because we're the kind of people that go. Like, on weekends, we're going to go to the Science Museum or we're going to drive to Norman and find something to do. We're not the kind of people that just stay at home, so it was definitely an adjustment at first. My boys have always loved nature walks, as they call them, so hiking was easy. They found out that they like biking on trails and they also found out they liked camping. And what we found out from all of that is that on the days where they spend the day outside and we're more active they slept better, they were more agreeable, just it was easier to be a parent on those days. So, that's something that we've tried to do on weekends when usually, we would have gone to the zoo. Instead, we'll take all our bikes out and go on the trail.

Dan: Well, that's going to lead me right into Keep Moving OKC, so what's been your experience finding fun and safe and affordable events to do with your family, particularly your kids and like-minded moms like yourself?

Caitlynne: It hasn't been easy in the past. I feel like the default is to go, kind of sit somewhere like Chick-Fil-A, and let the kids play on the playground while the moms all talk. So, I would say that it hasn't been very easy to find outdoor active activities to do with the kids in the past.

Dan: What was your first impression using Keep Moving OKC so far? Tell me about that experience.

Caitlynne: Well the first [thing] I clicked on was ‘Parks and Trails' because we love trying new parks and I told you, we are kind of obsessed with finding new trails right now to walk or ride bikes on, and I was very excited about that tab. It has all the parts broken down, it tells you which trails are paved and has a little picture of the trails. You kind of know what to expect. That was the first [thing] I clicked on and that was very exciting for me.

Dan: That is something that, you know, I think that people in your situation, you know, looking for fun things to do, outside activities, low-cost activities is important and that's really what Keep Moving OKC is all about. Why should other parents and community members utilize the site?

Caitlynne: I think all of us are kind of looking for a sense of community right now. We've all been lonely, we've all been in our houses. So, I think that getting outside, going somewhere different, maybe to a different city that you have been to before or just a different area of town that you haven't been to before and just getting outside burning the energy, maybe have a nap when you get home - I think that that's what most of us need right now.

Dan: I think you're absolutely right, Caitlynne. I guarantee that you know, people listening to this all across the metro are probably feeling the same way. So, obviously, we're going to encourage everybody to go to KeepMovingOKC.org and tell me again, where do people find you?

Caitlynne: We actually just rebranded from Oklahoma City mom's blog, now it's called Oklahoma City Mom. We're on Facebook, Instagram, if you just google ‘Oklahoma City Mom' - you'll find our blog there.

Dan: Well, excellent. I want to thank you for being on our podcast today, Caitlynne. We do appreciate you being here. Everybody, go to KeepMovingOKC.org, I'll say it again, KeepMovingOKC.org, follow us on socials @KeepMovingOKC on Instagram and Facebook and remember: keep your distance but keep moving, OKC!

Creating Impact Through Giving is brought to you by the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, a nonprofit that works with donors to create charitable funds that benefit our community both now and in the future.

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