Stepping into Positive Tomorrows
In a sea of balloon hats and pilgrim headpieces, Bryan, a 4-year-old student, wore a turkey hat he made himself at the arts and crafts station. The body of the turkey read ‘I am thankful for…” with three large feathers intricately colored to his liking. Inscribed on each feather was something that he was grateful for this holiday. Bryan was thankful for toys, clothes, food and the City Rescue Mission.
For the first time since breaking ground in spring of last year, the students at Positive Tomorrows stepped into their brand new 42,000 square foot facility on Thursday. They were welcomed with a Thanksgiving Party complete with balloon animals, cookie decorating and face painting. Joining them in christening their new school were members of the Thunder staff, Thunder Girls and the entire Thunder roster.
“It’s really very fortunate because we’re also having our Family Thanksgiving Dinner and it just all wraps into one big ball about being thankful and we’re so very thankful for this building,” said Susan Agel, president and CEO at Positive Tomorrows. “We’ve been waiting for something like this for a very long time so we’re all very excited right now.”
As the only elementary school to specifically serve homeless children, Positive Tomorrows was beginning to outgrow its old home. Now with 74 children enrolled, their 8,000 square foot facility with only one bathroom, began to feel a little tight. With no library or gym on site, a single visit to the local library was a four-hour endeavor between transporting the kids to the library and bringing them back to the school. Now, with the help of partnerships and generous donations, the students at Positive Tomorrows will only need to walk down the hall if they want to check out a book or shoot some hoops.
Positive Tomorrows built a new 42,000 square foot facility now touting a full basketball court, two outdoor play areas and multiple state of the art classrooms where each and every detail was carefully and intentionally designed to serve the specific needs of children facing trauma and homelessness.
“We’ve paid a lot of attention to what children of homelessness need and our building was specifically designed to provide them with some of the things that they need,” said Agel.
Thunder center, Nerlens Noel sat in one of the newest additions to the Positive Tomorrows facility – the kitchen lab. The cove sitting next to the cafeteria kitchen will be used to teach children and parents how to cook, set a table and even do laundry. In Thursday’s case, it was used as a cookie decorating station. With intense delicacy, Noel masterfully scattered multicolored sprinkles on a sugar cookie covered in orange frosting while a student peered over his shoulder in approval.
The Thunder’s long-time partnership with Positive Tomorrows dates back to 2008 when the team first arrived in Oklahoma City. Over the years, it has seen Rolling Thunder Book Bus visits, birthday parties and even helped build a classroom at the school. It was only fitting that the team participate in the festivities in the brand-new building that the non-profit will soon call home.
“The job for players and what we’re doing here, because it’s just a one-day thing, is just to have a fun day to try to forget about some of the negative stuff and that we can just have a fun day,” said Thunder center Steven Adams. “The real work in terms of actual impact is this thing here, this building, this organization. That’s the real impact.”
“One of the really special things that Positive Tomorrows does so well is to make their kids feel special,” said Christine Berney VP of community relations at the Thunder. “That’s what we get to have a part of, not only our players but also our staff just to spend some time here and hang out with the families and kids and show them a special afternoon.”