Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

December 17, 2012

Holiday spirit moves SORC forward

Ezra Mann
Pauls Valley Democrat

Pauls Valley, Oklahoma — While plans for transitioning clients from the Southern Oklahoma Resource Center into community based settings will certainly be the topic of focus for the next year or more, there are signs the holidays will be celebrated at least one more time.

It’s hard for many not to imagine a tradition of lights, music and entertainment continuing, but if anything it’s more of a reason for those like longtime SORC case manager Brian Abney to make sure it counts.

Part of making the season jolly is the return of their annual Christmas program this afternoon, something he salvaged from a department which was cut several years ago.

“People are helping us to make sure this is special, because this will likely be the last SORC Christmas program,” said Abney.

“We’re moving forward because it’s the right thing to do.”

Teaming up with Abney will be fellow employees like the campus chaplain Bill Crawford, who is using a lifelong love of magic to include his range of visual tricks once again in the show. Though he normally charges for performances it’s been something he’s donated each time around and is open to anyone on campus as well as those who formerly were residents.

“I became interested in magic when I was 5,” said Crawford. “I enjoy doing it for the staff, the clients, anyone that will watch it.”

All the fun gets going at 1 p.m. in the gymnasium and also includes a living nativity reenactment, a favorite of case manager Randy Smith, who usually gets to play Joseph.

He’s had a couple of separate stints with the former state school and wouldn’t miss the opportunity to at least be involved one more time.

“It’s worth it just to see the look on their face,” said Smith. “How much they enjoy it.”

It’s basically an opportunity for any client or staff member to cut loose whether for laughs or sing a familiar holiday tune. Everything on campus pretty much halts for the event, complimented by a well decorated stage.

For Abney it’s another chapter to add to a lot of good memories, one of his favorite attached to Santa’s regular client visits.

He will never forget one year after the festivities where one client would not let the man in the red suit go until he made sure he knew what his Christmas wishes were.

“He wanted to make sure he got what he wanted,” said Abney, adding how there will even be a visit by the Whitebead Chimaleers. “It’s kind of a celebration atmosphere... Most of them know what this is about.”