Headlines can be difficult.
The Coronavirus, protesting.
Our show is filled with uplifting stories.
Stories of people making a difference.
They’re stories meant to encourage you to “Be Our Change” in this world.
We begin with two nonprofits trying to help struggling oilfield families stay afloat.
“We have a lot of folks that are in need right now, that are not working,” says Jose Urteaga with the Rig Riders Motorcycle Club – Midland Chapter.
“We all look out for each other, we all try to take care of each other,” says Kevin Kelley. He’s another member of the Rig Riders Motorcycle Club.
“This is probably the worst our generation has seen for sure,” says Wesley Kelldorf, Rig Riders Motorcycle Club President.
“My entire family is in this industry, my entire family so this is really hard to see,” says Jenny Kelldorf, Wesley’s wife.
The oil industry seeing a dark time.
“It’s devastating,” says Jenny Kelldorf.
Devastating as workers continue to ride into an uncertain future.
“We shut my department down,” says Kelley.
Several in this group laid off.
“You go through that because you have to, knowing full well that it may be your turn tomorrow,” says Urteaga.
The latest report from the Perryman Group says, the Basin could lose more than 14 billion dollars and more than 35 thousand jobs.
Our area also started with more than 400 rigs this year and has dropped to fewer than 200.
Despite their own struggles, the Rig Riders Motorcycle Club of the Permian Basin is focused on making a difference.
“Somehow, someway we always bounce back,” says Kelldorf.
Patriotism runs deep in our community. Our host Eddie Flores is a veteran and says it’s an honor to see tributes, such as the Chris Kyle Memorial, in person.
The Chris Kyle Memorial Plaza in Odessa honors the slain Navy Seal and American Sniper.
He was born in Odessa in 1974.
Kyle was killed in 2013 at a Texas shooting range in Erath County.
His autobiography was the basis for the 2014 film ‘American Sniper’ starring Bradley Cooper.
All eyes on the skies as numerous special flights have taken place right here in the Basin.
High Sky Wing took flight to honor our front-line heroes.
Organizers say this is a way to bring people together.
A popular longhorn in downtown Odessa is wearing a mask meant to encourage people to play it safe.
It is 10 feet tall.
The City of Odessa posted a photo on Facebook with the caption — “Don’t be a stubborn old bull — wear a mask.”
Lisa Anderson, a resident, made the mask.
She and her husband Scott also placed them on some of the Jamboree Rabbits.
Be an Overcomer
Executive orders have forced businesses to close their doors and organizations to postpone its events. Amid the closures, our courts are no exception. However, thanks to technology and the will of many people, the Story family in Odessa finalized their child adoption on Monday.
“Today it’s official, and nobody can take him away,” said father Jeremy Story. “We’re just ecstatic about it… He’s just a great little child.”
Just like that, a new chapter of the Story family’s saga began. The couple says they had been hoping for a child, even praying to Jeremy’s late mother for a blessing, when baby Christopher came into their lives.
“My mom passed away after surgery. In June, we did a balloon release for her,” explained Jeremy. “On the balloon, we put ‘P.S. if he’s red headed that’ll be great.’ And sure enough, Christopher is red-headed,” added wife Kara Story.
Within three weeks of their plea to heaven, they began their journey to adoption.
“My grandmother had to take custody of him at birth at the hospital. She raised him until September when he was 17 months old. That is when we started fostering him,” said Jeremy.
The road to adoption was not always easy, and along the way, life threw curveballs.
“When COVID hit, that’s when it became real stressful,” explained Kara. “And then we got a call one day that we’re going to be able to do it over Zoom.”
After seven months of waiting, the couple says they are relieved.
“It just makes you very emotional. You know, just all the love you feel for the little guy,” said Kara.
The couple also encourages anyone interested in fostering a child to look into the process.
A lot of creativity behind the Tall City Mural.
It displays a lot of things the Permian Basin is known for including the oil and gas industry, being Texas proud as well as George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush.
The unique mural is located at Volunteer Park on Big Spring Street in Midland.
Keep Midland Beautiful unveiled the mural last year.
It’s located on Big Spring Street in Midland.
A local woman saw the devastation of Alzheimer’s firsthand.
But she took that emotional pain and is using it to transform lives.
Many of us hold close memories of the amazing places we’ve seen. Memories of loved one and memories of happy times, but imagine all of that wiped out.
“On a good day, there might be some memories still there, and on a bad day, she had no idea who we were,” said Julie Gray.
She grew up incredibly close to her grandmother, Angie.
Gray said, “When I was growing up, it was just her and my mom and myself.”
Gray helped take care of her grandmother for 15 years before she passed away from Alzheimer’s two years ago.
“I just felt completely lost, and I wanted to channel those feelings back into our community,” said Gray.
She certainly has done just that. Gray manages the West Texas Walk to end Alzheimer’s, a group that raises money for research to find a cure for the disease and still provides resources amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Just because we have this extra layer with COVID-19 doesn’t mean we’re going to stop. We’re going to fight even harder right now,” said Gray.
There is a 24-7 hotline for help. That number is 1-800-272-3900.
Be a Difference Maker
Oilfield Helping Hands also teamed up with a local photographer to make a difference.
Because of Covid-19, James Durbin started the Permian Porch Campaign.
The project is simple.
Schedule a front porch photoshoot, practice social distancing, and donate to Oilfield Helping Hands.
The best part, it’s all going to help oilfield families in our community.
Be an Explorer
If you haven’t seen the Stonehenge Replica in Odessa, it’s a must-see sight.
Students and visitors flock to the UTPB Campus to get their pictures taken here.
From the view above, it’s incredible to see.
This replica matches the original Stonehenge horizontally.
However, it’s a little shorter in height than the English monument.
This one only took six weeks to build.
As you can imagine, the Coronavirus battle is even more intense at nursing homes. So, a man who works at Manor Park in Midland wrote a special song to encourage the community. A song, honoring our front line heroes.
“You cannot listen to that song without shedding a tear,” said Robyn Boyd, Life Enhancement Director at Manor Park.
“It touched my heart that he wrote that for all of us here,” said Melissa Mattson, Transportation Driver at Manor Park.
Monty Elliott is the man behind the music. He’s also the music minister and activity director of Manor Park.
Elliott said, “When I wrote songs, and I make my music, I like to make people feel what I’m feeling.”
He wants healthcare workers to feel appreciated.
“I’m not just talking about nurses and doctors,” said Elliott. I’m talking about maintenance men, housekeepers, the cooks. Everybody that’s working in that facility is our heroes.”
A simple sign and their own wall of heroes inspired the lyrics.
“I feel like if I can lift somebody’s spirits or make them smile, I’ve done my job,” said Elliott.
“We’ve been struggling with the Covid-19. Ge came into the office one day and said I have a couple of lines for you to listen to, a couple of lines of the song,” said Boyd. “It just so happens that very day, he had to be quarantined because of possible contact with somebody who had Covid-19, so he had to go home for 14 days.”
Fortunately, his possible exposure was just a false alarm. But it gave him time to finish his special song.
“Breaks your heart because it’s so true. We have to be thankful to our first responders and our health care workers,” said Boyd.
“Music is good therapy, and all of us have little talents that can bring smiles to everybody’s face,” said Mattson.
You can watch Elliott’s song in its entirety on YouTube.
Be Educated on History
You can explore the history of American Presidents at Odessa’s Presidential Archive and Leadership Library.
The library is located at UTPB.
It offers a thorough collection of Presidential documents and other collectibles.
A local high school teacher honors seniors in a unique way, with a display of congratulations.
It was set up at the 7000 block of Shiloh Road in Odessa.
The man behind this is a teacher at Permian High, he teaches World Geography.
“It gives them hope and inspiration that is so badly needed at this time. We love these seniors and we’re very proud of their achievement and we wanted them to know that,” said Dr. Robert Brescia.
“He does not go halfway with anything, it is big, it is fireworks. he lights up the house. you know when he’s celebrating someone or something,” Marissa Rossell, neighbor.
We’re told Dr. Brescia also puts up incredible displays for Christmas and Halloween.
It’s good to be unique. The city of Odessa has been working to beautify the area with art.
Some compare and call the “Odessa Spire,” the West Texas Eiffel Tower.
It finally came to life at the end of last year.
But talks of doing something with the old cloth world sign first started back in 2014.
That sign dates back to the 1970’s and is an icon in our community.
Be a Leader
A local leader created some special bracelets with a message of hope. The best part: all of the proceeds go to the West Texas Food Bank.
September 11th, 2001, a day many of us will never forget.
“It’s hard to believe 19 years ago when the United States was brutally attacked,” said Collin Sewell, Sewell Family of Companies.
He says, “I remember when one of my mentors looked at me, and he said one of the greatest attributes of a leader in the toughest of times is that they choose to never, ever waiver.”
The message inspired some unique bracelets.
“They don’t waiver from their convictions; they don’t waiver from their beliefs,” said Sewell.
E.F. Outfitters in Odessa has them up for sale once again.
“It was time to remind people in our company and our community as well that we have to stand firm and stand strong,” said Sewell.
A prominent leader in our community is known for giving back and hopes his life can serve as an example.
“Leaders take people to places they never thought they could go by themselves, leaders give people hope that they would seldom have by themselves,” said Sewell.
Those bracelets run between two dollars and 18 dollars.
Be an Example
Jack Ben Rabbit is an eight-foot-tall statue that’s also wearing a mask these days.
He’s the world’s largest jackrabbit, or at least was at one time.
The statue was built in 1962 and has since become a bit of a local celebrity in Odessa.
The largest jackrabbit is now in Ralls, Texas standing at 14 and a half feet tall.
Jack Ben Rabbit isn’t the only larger-than-life rabbit in Odessa; 37 other brightly decorated bunnies are known as the Jamboree Rabbits.
Giving back is a family affair for one Midland family.
Meet the Carpenter’s.
Twice a week for the past year and a half, they’ve been delivering meals to senior citizens.
They’re volunteers for “Meals on Wheels.”
Mom, Jennifer Carpenter, got teary-eyed talking with us about what volunteering means to her family.
“It’s just really touching when we see them. We didn’t even realize the impact it had when my little one’s run-up, the seniors light up,” said Jennifer Carpenter.
Her young son, Thomas Blake Carpenter, also gave us a reaction. We asked him how he felt to help people. He said, “happy.”
The father of the household, Craig Carpenter, said, “Seeing them every week brightens our day as much as it brightens theirs.”
Quarantine and social distancing is making it harder for families to stay in touch, but the limited contact is not stopping one grandson from making it to his regular playdates with his “Granny.”
7-year-old, James Wilson, says while it is “not the same,” he continues to visit his grandmother at Madison Medical Resort nursing home to keep her company.
“I just want her to know I love her, and be safe.”
Wilson is waiting for life before to quarantine to resume, so he can hug his best friend again. The two bonded over the last seven years over games of tic-tac-toe and country music. And while physical distance seems further than ever, the two are continuing to bring their hearts together for the milestones.
7-year-old, James Wilson, loves playing tic-tac-toe with his granny & singing for her friends at the nursing home.
While their playdates in quarantine is “not the same,” it won’t stop him from letting her know he loves her (through sign language).
“I usually draw and she watches. She likes it,” explained Wilson. “She usually likes to play with me even if she can’t do it. But now, it’s not the same.”
While the lockdown has resorted the two to communicate from either sides of the glass window, Wilson says their special greeting is all they need.
“I love you in sign language… Because all the time we leave, we always do it so we’ll love each other.”
Wilson says he looks forward to hugging and kissing his “Granny,” but until then, the two are making the best of a bittersweet situation.
More than ever, people are giving back to our community.
A group of women in Odessa has been helping those in need. They’re part of United Hands Ministry of Iglesia Del Camino.
They’ve donated more than 200 baskets of groceries to apartments with seniors, single moms, and lower-income families.
They say their passion for making a difference comes from their faith.
“I have a job, my husband too, so that I can provide not too much money but share,” said Marlene Martinez, United Hands Ministry volunteer.
“Most of the people here are in wheelchairs, and they can’t walk, so she felt grateful that they were able to come out and give to the people of this community,” said Francis Rodriguez, a receiver of a gift basket.
You can help as well by donating to the church.
Meet an Odessan, who against all the odds, will celebrate his 13th birthday on Saturday. His family is sharing their story in hopes of inspiring others.
The youngest of four children, Joseph Ojeda, brought into the world surrounded by fear and uncertainty.
“The doctor had gone into the waiting room and explained to the family, Joseph’s not going to make it throughout the night,” said Annette Ojeda, Joseph’s mom. “We’re not sure about the mom because I had lost so much blood. So, we weren’t supposed to make it through that day.”
He was born at 22 weeks with many complications, including only a third of his brain.
“He had a stage four brain bleed. He wasn’t supposed to walk; he wasn’t supposed to talk; he wasn’t supposed to dress himself, take care of himself. He was just going to be a vegetable,” said Annette Ojeda.
But soon, Joseph will celebrate his 13th birthday with his entire family.
“We didn’t think he’d get this far, so we’re very proud,” said Jasmine Vasquez, Joseph’s sister.
While Joseph is a little camera shy, he still loves to do the things other kids his age do.
“My son loves cars. He can sit there and name cars and trucks. If it’s a Chevy, it’s a Ford,” said Ojeda.
“We got out somewhere, and he’s like, oh, that’s a Challenger. Oh, that’s a Mustang,” said Vasquez.
Every year a gift, for a boy who wasn’t supposed to live through the night.
“We are living proof that it can happen,” said Ojeda. “These stories, they bring up hope.”
Hope after a difficult beginning. The Ojeda family says faith and family kept them going through the hard times.
A social distancing birthday parade will start tomorrow at 4:30 pm. It begins at Lee Buice Elementary in Odessa. Then, they will make their way to the 600 block of Purdue Street. Everyone is invited.
They asked the community to get involved on Facebook by bringing unique cars since Joseph loves cars. They say the response has been overwhelming.