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Jun 15, 2012
Volunteer Spotlight on Harleta Stokes
Today we present a brief interview with one of our outstanding HELP volunteers, Harleta Stokes. Harleta is one of HeartLine’s most dedicated HELP volunteers and has been volunteering with the program since 2003. During her time spent as a volunteer, Harleta has presented HELP to thousands of students in middle schools and high schools in the OKC metro area.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Married, two sons – also married- and one grandson. Retired from Arvest Bank/Security BankCard Center, office management. Enjoy golfing, cross-stitching and knitting preemie-caps, gardening, hunting gophers and attending OU Women’s Basketball games.
What brought you to HeartLine?
I wanted to get involved and volunteer but I didn’t know at the time what that would be. One weekend I was listening to the radio and I heard a public service program talking about the Choice program (HELP) and how volunteers were needed. That was it! I knew immediately I found what I wanted to do.
Why did you decide to become a HELP volunteer?
At first it was hard for me to understand how so many of our young people could be struggling with the decision of suicide, but it was easy to understand the importance in getting information to our youth to make a better decision. I had spent many years being a corporate trainer and I knew talking with the students would come easy for me and would be a good fit. I didn’t realize at the time the positive impact the HELP presentations would have for our youth. This was the program for me to help make a difference.
What is your favorite thing about being a HELP presenter?
The students never fail to surprise me and you never know what they might say or ask which keeps me on my toes. We have some really sharp kids, great teachers and counselors and it’s a good feeling going into the schools to help everyone with this difficult subject. Knowing that our presentation is giving them ‘tools’ to help themselves, their friends or a family member makes it worthwhile.
What would you say to someone that is thinking about volunteering?
Knowing that in a short period of time we are ‘touching’ so many wonderful kids, giving them good, solid and important information makes volunteering an easy decision. This program is not hard to learn or to deliver and it doesn’t have to take a lot of personal time. You just have to look into their eyes to realize how important this information is. It’s also necessary for this program to have a strong volunteer base to handle all of the presentations. If you knew you could help a child make a life saving decision or for them to be able to help someone else, wouldn’t you want to participate?
Are there any obstacles you have had to overcome in order to volunteer?
For me, there really hasn’t been any obstacles. Making sure everyone around me understood why I was volunteering for HELP and its importance assisted others for their buy-in. Management at work was very supportive. Now that I’m retired it’s simply sorting through my priorities and HELP is at the top of that list.