Tim Newton (center) at Tulsa Dream Center
Published 06/06/2020 | Reading Time 5 min 42 sec
By Katherine P. Mitchell, Senior Writer
On Thursday, June 3th, Tulsa Dream Center (TDC) reached an incredible milestone. That was the day that a total of 2,897,532 free meals were served, nearly 3 million, cumulatively, to North Tulsans. What a blessing to the community!
Interviewing Mr. Tim Newton, Program Director, was a delightful experience. It was one of those encounters that revealed commonalities between strangers – once we reach out and speak.
We discovered that we are both transplants from Southern California and relocated to Tulsa within a year of one another.
Fourteen years ago, Tim came to Tulsa for a job assignment that eventually led to his lending perspective on what Tulsa Dream Center could become. Little did North Tulsa know that a precious gem had arrived. While working on his project, he volunteered mentoring boys and girls and fell in love with the North Tulsa Community. After realizing he could be a change agent here, he quit his job and decided to stay, and has been Program Director, overseeing all the activities and operations of the for the past 11 years. Tim and I arrived to a very different city than the one we now occupy, and since that time he has expanded and introduced many new programs to support children and the elderly.
He was raised by grandparents in inner-city Los Angeles, and though he did not always make good decisions that would move him forward in life, he did move ahead. This includes completing a GED and earning a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Georgia Institution of Technology. An ambitious man can do a heap of good and that is the energy he has poured into thousands of children and adults who find refuge, education, fun, food, and exercise, along with life coaching and academic guidance. There is a lot of love being shared at Tulsa Dream Center.
For example, the Center houses the only free clinic in Tulsa for residents without medical insurance. They partner with St. John Medical Center which provides medical personnel three times per week along with free medicine to their patients 18 years and older. They proudly offer services to 19 area codes north of 244 and a portion of Sand Springs.
Other programs include after-school tutoring, food and clothing distribution, summer camp activities, all geared toward education and health. Hot meals are served twice weekly and since the country has been dealing with a global pandemic the need increased by 15%. Tulsans come from all over to get food. On Tuesday, March 24th, as the City began social distancing, 800 cars drove through and received groceries; by Friday, the 27th, that number had doubled to 1,600 and has continued to increase by the hundreds each day. Their onsite warehouse is plenished mainly by donations from local grocery stores, Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma, Walmart Distribution Center and Tyson Foods.
Tulsa Dream Center provides breakfast, lunch and a hot dinner that equates to 2,700 meals delivered to homes each week, Monday through Friday. TDC also acts as a hub to other churches and organizations with food sharing. Their collaborations extend from Sapulpa to Arkansas and Kansas.
When I asked Mr. Newton what differences he notices in his work today compared to ten years ago, he remarked that young people are more inclusive in decision-making. Young professionals, like himself, occupy seats on boards and influence the future. He has noticed more white allies and more positive opinions voiced throughout the community. He mentioned that when he first arrived, a white realtor advised him not to purchase property in North Tulsa, reflecting the views of many Tulsans. Thanks to Tim’s vision, persistence and foresight, Tulsa Dream Center will maintain their place as a beacon in leading the State, if not the country, in enrichment programs that truly make a difference in thousands of lives.
Along with his numerous duties at TDC, Tim is currently the acting school President at Drexel Academy Elementary School where he desires to see every boy and girl excel in every aspect of life; from school, sports, involvement in the community, and at home. He is proud that the Center’s academic work produces results such as 100% of 3rd graders meeting all levels of reading proficiency. Tim’s slogan is, “Do your best and do not settle for less.” He and beautiful wife, Nichole, have two children – 6-year-old daughter, Avery, and 1-year-old, Tim Jr.
Tulsa Dream Center is located at 200 N. 46th St. North in Tulsa and can be reached at 918-430-9984.
Katherine Penny Mitchell relocated to Tulsa from Southern California. Accustomed to civic and community engagement, she began to create gathering spaces in North Tulsa that involved music, education, and the performing arts. After completing a leadership program facilitated by LEAD North, a Leadership Tulsa Partner, she was approached by District 1 State Senator, Kevin Matthews, to host a monthly District Forum where our elected representatives (Senate, House of Representatives, and City Council) met with the community and reported on their respective work. This began a new method of informing constituents about pending legislation and other City and State activities.
Katherine retired from Tulsa Community College (TCC) after 10 years of service through Student Services; the classroom as a Developmental Writing instructor; and through student engagement as an Adviser to the African American Student Association (AASA). She is also an adjunct faculty member at Southern Nazarene University where she completed a Master’s program in Business Management. Upon retirement, Ms. Mitchell created “Beads Please, LLC”, a handcrafted, custom jewelry online business. She is also a singer/songwriter, curator, and recent Greenwood Art Project selectee.