Tulsa Chapter Connects With Community


Some very exciting things are happening at the Founding Chapter and SWD President Russell Shaner asked me to provide a brief outline of the outreach programs we’ve established. First a little background.

Last spring the Tulsa chapter hosted a “Supercharging Your Chapter” seminar with Paul Ellinger.  It was a wonderful Saturday, filled with outstanding singing instruction and ways to promote membership, well attended by several Oklahoma chapters.

            While the singing and marketing/promotion information was excellent and well-presented advice, I was most moved by the concept of developing what Paul calls an “Altruistic Purpose”.  For several years now, I’ve felt that we in Tulsa needed to find a way to connect with our community in a positive way; in a way that would bring our chapter in closer contact with Tulsa’s vibrant and richly historical music and philanthropic community.

Two ideas formed almost simultaneously:

  1. Establish a method and the means of encouraging young men throughout the district, whether established barbershoppers or not, to learn more about our wonderful hobby.

  2. Establish a relationship with a local charitable organization whose mission meshed with our own – making a difference in other people’s lives.

  Thanks to our new Musical Director, Doug Crowl, the first item was fulfilled with his request that we establish the “Don Crowl Memorial Barbershop Youth Education Fund”. This fund, honoring the late Don Crowl, accepts tax-deferred donations from barbershoppers, the general public, or corporate sponsors, and funds a scholarship to cover the tuition cost for selected young men to attend Harmony University. The Tulsa chapter fully funded the tuition for the 2014 (first) recipient, Don Crowl’s grandson, Marshall.

  A committee, chaired by long-time Barbershopper Dr. Robert McCullough, was set up to manage donations and to seek applicants for available scholarships. For 2015, with donations from several local benefactors and some SW District officers, we were able to grant scholarships to THREE young men who will be attending this summer’s HU.

This program is not limited to just young men who are already barbershoppers.  It is open to all young men in the SWD who have exhibited an interest in vocal music in their schools, or communities.  I encourage all chapter leaders to make this information available to their community’s public, private and home-school administrators.  For more information contact Dr. Robert McCullough at rmccull207@aol.com or Doug Crowl at dcrowl1@cox.net or the Tulsa Chapter at tulsafounders@hotmail.com.

The second item is one that is near and dear to my heart and to the heart of the entire Founding Chapter. Tulsa has a rich musical heritage.  Every week artists of all kinds are performing live in the vibrant Blue Dome and Brady Districts downtown and elsewhere throughout the city.  Paul Ellinger’s “Altruistic Purpose” program helped me to see that we should become a part of that rich heritage, after all …  we are the place where the world’s largest all-male singing society was founded seventy-seven years ago.  We and the BHS have A LOT to share with the citizens of Greater Tulsa.  So, we began looking for an organization whose mission was in keeping with ours – making a difference in people’s lives.

To be sure, there are many, many organizations that fit that description in just the Greater Tulsa area.  But our research kept coming back to just one; one that was, in fact, near to the heart of one of our local heroes, Morris “Mo” Rector.  Mo was a champion of the Tulsa Boy’s Home, an organization begun in 1918 to provide area at risk boys, boys who had no real family to rely upon, the guidance, stability and familiarity of a home with friends and mentors.  It provides formal education giving them opportunities to rise above the challenges they face to become civic leaders and professionals dedicated to the betterment of their community.  What other organization, we thought, could be closer to our own mission – Making a Difference in Others Lives!  They do it with love and discipline – we do it with music.

It’s begun small and slowly.  The TBH has many benefactors and initially seemed to see us as an organization that might be a sponsor, able to make sizable donations to their fund-raising efforts.  Unfortunately our pockets are not that deep and our offer is not quite that grandiose.

Our primary goal is to establish a vocal music program at TBH, likely as an extra-curricular activity, instructing interested boys in the fine art of barbershop, gospel and classical vocal music. As they improve their vocal presentation and with the cooperation of the TBH staff, we hope to include them on our shows and in other performance opportunities.

To jump-start our relationship, and as a token of good faith, we were able to make a small donation to TBH from the proceeds of our April show, “The Bright Side of Life” and invited a group of student/residents and staff to be our guests. We look forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship with the Tulsa Boys Home.

Yes, there are some exciting things happening here in the BirthPlace of the BHS and I’d like to thank SWD President Russell Shaner for giving me the opportunity to share some of our excitement with the SouthWestern District.